As the 1860’s ended, the steadily growing numbers of Chinese immigrants led to fears that eventually their numbers would outstrip those of California’s white population. And the Chinese themselves became more “Americanized” in their response to insults, assaults and robbery attempts. As attacks by Anglos and Latinos escalated and as factional fighting grew in their own ranks, Chinese in California increasingly armed themselves with Colt 45s. Increasingly, they began to shoot back.
Somewhere in the middle of this overwrought and overwritten gangland shoot-’em-up, there is a decent story. But we’re never quite able to get to it. Michael Cimino’s direction of a screenplay that he cowrote with Oliver Stone is full of action. But it’s built around a narrative that makes little sense.