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Dragon From Russia
Year: 1990

Sam Hui behind the mask
Director: Clarence Fok Yiu-Leung
Action: Yuen Tak
Cast: Sam Hui Koon-Kit, Maggie Cheung Man-Yuk, Carrie Ng Ka-Lai, Nina Li Chi, Yuen Tak, Loletta Lee Lai-Chun, Lau Shun, Sara Lee Lai-Yui
The Skinny: Uneven adaptation of the popular Crying Freeman Japanese manga. The action is pretty cool, but the shtick and poor casting doom matters.
by Kozo:

     Action ace Clarence Fok (Naked Killer) directed this Hong Kong retelling of the Crying Freeman Japanese manga. As you'd expect, the overdone erotica is gone from this version, but the violence is all intact. However, there's an even bigger problem: Sam Hui plays Freeman. What the-?
      Yao (Hui) and May (Maggie Cheung) are childhood friends who hang around Russia. However, all is not well as the 108 Dragons Cult kidnaps Yao and turns him into Freeman, an amnesiac assassin who sheds tears whenever he offs somebody. He's trained in his art by a wacky old guy and the lovable Pearl (Loletta Lee). Eventually, Yao is unleashed upon the world, but he soon comes into contact with May again.
     The action in this film is over-the-top and entertaining. This isn't surprising, as Naked Killer benefited from Fok's handling of action, too. Lots of wirework and extensive choreography lift the film, and they manage to save the movie from a complete loss. However, after that not much is left.
     One big problem is the casting. Whoever decided Sam Hui should be Freeman needs to be given a serious beat-down. He's a likable enough guy, but the character of Freeman is not supposed to be an "aw shucks" grinner. Add to that Hui's usual comic tendencies and he's a total non-fit. They should have gotten any number of other actors, like Simon Yam or Tony Leung Ka-Fai. Maggie Cheung is beautiful as always, but there's one moment in the film where she searches for the missing Yao by running all over Russia with a picture of him attached to her sweatshirt. That inanity is matched by Yao's unbelievably snarky attitude, which leads to all sorts of unfunny and boring comedy between he and Pearl.
     On the positive end, Carrie Ng, Nina Li and Yuen Tak all fit their roles extremely well. Ultimately, Dragon from Russia's problem lies with its uneven mix of shtick and action. It never really settles into either tone well, and as a result never becomes more than mildly interesting. And Sam Hui as Freeman? What were they thinking? (Kozo 1995/1997)


DVD (Hong Kong)
Region 0 NTSC
Mei Ah Entertainment
16x9 Anamorphic Widescreen
Cantonese and Mandarin Language Tracks
Dolby Digital 5.1
Removable English and Chinese subtitles

image courtesy of Mei Ah Laserdisc Co., Ltd.
   Copyright 2002-2017 Ross Chen