Dragon from Russia
This 1990 film version of Crying Freeman is often
credited for ringing the final death knell for Cinema City. It looks as
if the production company threw a lot of money and resources into this
film, but it fared very poorly at the box office (HK$ 11 mm). To a large
degree that is understandable. Though this film directed by Clarence Fok
is full of his trademark splashy style, breathtaking camera movement and
has some truly amazingly clever wire work/action choreography, the plot
is nearly incomprehensible at times and the film holds little emotional
After a while it is almost not worth the effort
of trying to make sense of it all - because there is little sense here
- instead it is best to sit back and watch the spectacular wire choreography
and four of Hong Kong's most beautiful actresses on the screen. Think visual
- and this film is full of visual treats. One has to wonder whether miles
of this film had to be left on the editing floor because otherwise there
is little explanation for the leaps of logic, time and place.
Sam Hui (perhaps a bit old for this role) and
Maggie Cheung are two orphans in love brought up together in Russia by
Snooker (Dean Shek) who was once a member of an assassin organization -
the 800 Dragons. He escaped that life with his daughter (Sara Lee) and
went to live in Russia, but his past is finally catching up with him. Years
later the organization - now riddled with betrayers - are concerned that
Snooker knows the identities of other assassins and might reveal them to
the enemy. The leader - called The Master of the Dead (and played by Yuen
Tak - though in the train scene he clearly looks to be played by Yuen Wah!)
has two missions in mind - silence Dean Shek and kidnap Sam Hui.
Hui is kidnapped and brought back to the assassin
training facility where his memory is erased and he is trained to be a
master professional killer. At the camp also is a junior trainee, Pearl
(Loletta Lee), - who clearly doesn't have the heart to be a killer and
finds herself having feelings for Sam. Once the training is completed and
Sam has learned to kill in every conceivable way (and after being sensually
tattooed by Nina Li), he is ready for his first assignment - to kill a
HK businessman. This is carried out in thrilling style in front of the
Peninsula Hotel - but as he escapes Maggie catches a glimpse of him.
Nina Li is another member of the 800 Dragons and
is Sam's controller. She is simply stunning in this film whether dressed
in a seductive kimono, a nun's habit or a stylish aviation outfit. She
gives Sam orders for another kill - a top Yakuza (Lau Shun) - and
at this point the film begins to spin completely off the tracks in confusion.
Protecting the Yakuza is Carrie Ng (also looking lipsticked spectacular)
and her husband (Pai Ying) who were both members of the 800 Dragons. It
begins to get completely mixed up as the film loses the viewer as to who
is on who's side and where all the action is taking place as it jumps all
over the place from HK to Russia in the flash of an eye.
Sam also gets orders to kill a witness -
Maggie of course - but somewhere in the deep recesses of his mind he has
faint memories of her and can't bring himself to kill her (and who really
could kill the Magster!) - and soon they are on the run with everyone
trying to kill them. The last twenty minutes of the film in particular
are a muddled mess as we lose complete sense of where we are and what is
Even with the cluttered and mystifying storyline
at times (for example why doesn't Carrie recognize Nina in the nun's garb),
I would recommend this film for the style, the action and the sense of
fun it is aiming for. This film has an action scene it seems about every
five minutes and without a doubt some of the more imaginative fast wire
action I have seen in a HK film. That along with these four actresses rarely
looking more beautiful than here make this film a sensory feast for the
eyes if not the mind.
My rating for this film: 7.5
Distributed by Mei- Ah
The transfer is pretty good over all
- perhaps it could have been letterboxed a bit more - and there is a faint
line coming down the screen for large parts of the film.
Cantonese and Mandarin language tracks
Subtitles: Chinese , English, Korean,
Malaysian, Japanese, Vietnamese, Indonesian, Thai and None
There are no extras - no trailer or other previews.
The sub-titles are easy to read.