The 29th of June sees the home video release of 2014’s Revenge of the Green Dragons.
Wai-Keung Lau and Andrew Loo’s film sees two immigrant brothers in 80’s New York who join a Chinatown gang called the Green Dragons. Sonny and Steven (Justin Chon, Kevin Wu) rise to the top of the criminal underworld, but start to see their relationship torn apart. They quickly come to the attention of the FBI, who assign Ray Liotta’s Michael Bloom to the trail of the Green Dragons.
Liotta has a long cinematic history, and one which revolves mostly around cops and gangsters. The reason he has been typecast in these types of roles, though, is because he has shown many times that he has a great talent for them. Here follows six of his best.
Field of Dreams (1989)
Liotta may not have had the biggest role in Writer/Director Phil Alden Robinson’s Field of Dreams. That fell to Kevin Costner, as protagonist farmer Ray Kinsella. But Liotta still had a lot of work to do as Shoeless Joe Jackson.
Playing the ghost/spirit/who really knows of a famous baseball player, Liotta managed to bring a very spiritual, otherworldly presence to the screen. Ray isn’t sure exactly how Jackson has appeared in his cornfield, and Liotta helps perpetuate a feeling almost removed from reality, yet has very warm, intense exchanges with Ray.
A haunting, and very different role for Liotta.
Killing Them Softly (2012)
Writer/Director Andrew Dominik’s gritty, stylistic Killing Them Softly was packed with fine performances from a cast of great actors, so it would be easy to dismiss Ray Liotta’s relatively smaller role as little more than bit part typecasting.
What Liotta manages to fit into his precious little screen time, however, is worth watching the film for in itself. He plays Markie Trattman in this adaptation of Geroge V. Higgins’ Cogan’s Trade. Trattman is a mobster, who runs illegal card games. Having robbed the game himself a few years back, what goes around comes around when he is targeted by crooks who know that Trattman himself will get the blame if the game is robbed again.
Liotta is at his best when he steps into the game room, and the realisation dawns on him that he is being robbed. As he begins to understand the ramifications, his body language tells the story. His shoulders slump as he slowly resigns himself to the inevitable, and Trattman tries to put on a show for the other players, knowing full well that they all believe he himself is responsible.
A great, subtle performance.
Observe and Report (2009)
Writer/Director Jody Hill’s darkly comic movie follows Seth Rogen’s Ronnie, a mentally troubled security guard with dreams of becoming a real cop. Ronnie’s attempts to prove himself bring him into contact with Detective Harrison, played to wonderfully comic effect by Liotta.
Harrison is grumpy, and spiteful at times. He is also, however, patient, and despite his actions and cruelty towards Ronnie, and the outcomes, you can’t help but feel he has a twisted kind of fatherly affection for the security guard.
Liotta shows some great comedic sensibilities, whilst playing the role almost completely straight. You can see he regards Ronnie with humour to begin with, but as Ronnie’s antics begin to wear on him, he starts to slowly lose his mind, his inner rage coming to the fore. A great performance in a very underappreciated gem of a film.
Revenge of the Green Dragons in out on DVD and Blu-ray on the 29th of June. Win your copy here.