Written by: Beth Kelly on February 18th, 2015
Scorsese Strikes Again with Revenge of the Green Dragons
The new Martin Scorsese-produced Revenge of the Green Dragons is a thriller following two brothers in New York City, who face the impoverished circumstances in Chinatown in the 1980s leading them to join “The Green Dragons” gang. The brothers, two immigrants from China, become the gang’s rising stars. Tensions mount when the brothers turn on each other and one becomes a victim of a star-crossed love affair.
The themes in Revenge of the Green Dragons mimic Scorsese’s style throughout his career; he chooses high-action films that place a spotlight on historical cultural issues, but the crux of his films isn’t the action—it’s the human connection. Let’s take a look at some of Scorsese’s other underrated films to get a better idea of his goals as a director.
Underrated Scorsese Pictures:
This 1988 classic mainstreams a topic few can adequately portray (unless you’re Charlton Heston or Mel Gibson). Scorsese’s take on Jesus’s humanistic struggles, ultimate sacrifice and temptation was based on the novel of the same name by Nikos Kazantzakis. The film starred Willem Dafoe as Jesus himself and a devious Harvey Keitel as the sinister Judas.
The crux of Temptation doesn’t place a magnifying glass up to Jesus’s magical traits (turning water into wine or walking on water) but instead focuses on the humanistic aspects of Christ, and how his struggles as a man are ultimately more difficult than those he experiences as the son of god.
In one of Scorsese’s more psychedelic trips, After Hours follows a shy paper pusher, Paul Hackett (Griffin Dunn). Hackett finds himself drawn to an attractive woman, Marcy (Rosanna Arquette). He follows Marcy to Manhattan’s Soho neighborhood where he then finds himself in a trippy situation.
After Hours was released on Friday the 13th, 1985, and received generally positive reviews including a rare 90 out of 100 points on Metacritic.
Scorsese revisits the theme of Jesus Christ once again in Bringing Out the Dead. Starring Nicholas Cage and John Goodman, the plot follows Frank, an ambulance medic who works the graveyard shift in Manhattan. Frank is plagued by visions of ghosts of the people he couldn’t save.
Though Frank self-destructs throughout the entire movie, he always ends up back in the ambulance. Frank becomes enamored with Mary (played by Cage’s ex-wife, Patricia Arquette), who offers Frank salvation, redemption and ultimately rebirth. Again, it’s the humanistic qualities that Scorsese focuses on – the past failures and the vices we use to block out our own fears of mortality.
Using Scorsese-favorite actor, Leonardo DiCaprio as the movie’s protagonist, Shutter Island delivers a high-octane ride of Hitchcockesque jumps and thrills. Based on the book of the same name by Dennis Lehane, Shutter Island follows US Marshall, Teddy Daniels. In the year 1954, Daniels is sent to Shutter Island, an insane asylum, in order to investigate the disappearance of a patient.
Through flashbacks, we start to learn that Daniels is not the most reliable narrator. He believes he might have been brought to the island in a devious plot concocted by the asylum’s doctors.
While Shutter Island shows off Scorsese’s talent to unravel a carefully crafted thriller, it’s really the unfolding of Daniels’ past that creates the biggest emotional connection. Luckily for audiences, this more recent film is one of many Scorsese works available via DirecTV.
With over 54 films under his belt as a producer and 59 as a director, it’s no wonder Scorsese is often dubbed the greatest living director. Scorsese’s attention to detail, historic accuracy and the human condition keep moviegoers flocking to the theater to see his films.