Green Dragon | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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Green Dragon


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Timothy Linh Bui's debut feature is bathed in nostalgia for Camp Pendleton, a halfway facility that hosted the first wave of Vietnamese refugees in 1975, and for the delicate social fabric of Vietnam that was torn apart by the war. The script, by Bui and his brother Tony (Three Seasons), turns the camp into a microcosm of Saigon; among its denizens are a boy and girl whose parents are missing, an uncle of theirs who serves as the refugees' leader and conscience (Don Duong), a businessman burdened with two wives, and a couple of hotheads determined to build a new Vietnam. The two American characters, included probably for commercial more than dramatic reasons, are the camp's stern commander (Patrick Swayze) and a terminally ill cook who befriends the boy through his drawings (Forest Whitaker). The tone is muted and the structure is episodic, shifting restlessly among the various groups, yet this 2001 feature gradually exerts a strong emotional pull. 112 min. Gene Siskel Film Center, Saturday, April 13, 8:00.

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