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4 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

Fun comic book style wire work action thriller

7/10
Author: t-birkhead from United Kingdom
8 December 2008

First up I should say that I have never seen Christophe Gans' Crying Freeman, nor do I have any knowledge of the original manga so I can't say anything about whether this is a good adaptation. I have however seen plenty of martial arts and Asian action fare and as far as such films go, I'd say Dragon From Russia is pretty decent stuff. The complex (perhaps over complex) plot basically sees a talented young man recruited to become an assassin, who then does various jobs and and searches for his past. As the hero, Samuel Hui does OK. He has an engaging enough presence and handles himself reasonably well in the combat. The fighting uses lots of under cranking (speeding up) so does not give that much impression of the actual skill involved, but he is certainly good enough that the fighting does not use breakneck editing or confusing film-making to make him look better. The wire work and under cranking heavy choreography is by Yuen Tak I believe, and there are quite a few striking scenes. Though it isn't quite as elegant as the best work of someone like Ching Siu Tung, it nonetheless all looks pretty cool, and there's a pretty decent amount of it throughout. The villainry is led by the great Yuen Tak, who excels in multiple roles, and Yuen Wah also does good work in one fight scene. As far as the rest of the cast goes, Maggie Chung is relegated to a fairly uninteresting love interest role, while Nina Li Chi gets a good look in, and the rest of the cast are good on the whole. The film is mainly flawed by being a bit of a mish mash. Samuel Hui does not really convince as a hit-man, he just doesn't have the skills or gravitas for it. He is OK to watch but does not leave much of an impression. The baddies are quite good, but the plot is too jumbled to really give them much presence. I've seen this a couple of times now and the fact that you have to tussle with the plot throughout when it should be a lot simpler, or better acted so it becomes more gripping rather takes the edge off the experience. It also makes the ending less exciting than it should be. The final fight scene is alright, but not as good as earlier ones, which is a shame. Also, some of the humour in it is misjudged and silly and the more reflective, romantic moments are also a tad jarring. Altogether, this is good fun, and worth a look if you enjoy frenetic, sped up wire work action, especially if you can handle the issues that I have mentioned. It probably helps to have seen more of this era and style of Hong Kong action so you have some feel for it. Give it a try if this sort of thing appeals.

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4 out of 6 people found the following review useful:

Better then Cristophe Gans' Version

7/10
Author: himboy32 (himboy32@yahoo.co.uk) from Newcastle, England
22 October 2004

'Dragon From Russia' Tells the Story of Yo an artist who is kidnapped while fleeing Russia with his Girlfriend and her family, He soon finds himself chained to a mysterious Martial Arts master and begins to teach him the ways of being an assassin.

This action classic directed by the brilliant Clarence Fok is taken from the Manga comic book 'Crying Freeman' and is one of the best comic adaptations out there with scenes lifted directly from the pages of the comic itself.

The cast is well put together Sam Hui handles himself well in the leas role of the Free Man while Maggie Cheung puts gives a touching performance as the woman he loves. Another interesting performance comes from Jet Li's wife Nina Li Chi who plays an assassin fighting along side Yo, which makes a refreshing change from her role in 'Tiger On The Beat' in which she receives a rather brutal ass kicking from Chow Yun Fat, but thats a different movie all together.

But one thing which made this movie spectacular was Yuen Clan member Yuen Tak, who co-stars in the movie as both Yo's master with the rubber face and Yo's assistant.

Each fight is expertly choreographed and exciting to watch, showing that each Yuen clan member has their own unique and energetic style.

All in all a fun action film to watch especially if fans of the Crying Freeman comic would like to find something different to that of the western version starring Mark Decascos, which has to be said is a good flick as well.

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0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

Wirework-heavy version of the Crying Freeman story

4/10
Author: Leofwine_draca from United Kingdom
17 November 2012

Mark Dacascos was the actor who played the role of the masked assassin who sheds tears each time he kills a victim in the American version of this story, entitled CRYING FREEMAN and released in 1995. I mildly liked that film when I saw it; sure, it was no classic, it was a little cheesy, but it passed the time in a fairly entertaining fashion. Sad, then, that this earlier, Hong Kong-made outing, based on the same manga, turns out to be a bit of a dud and a lot worse than the Hollywood attempt.

The main problem I have with this movie is that which blights much of the Hong Kong action industry during the 1990s: the overuse of wirework. Why have two characters battling mano-a-mano when you can have them flying and flipping through the air and performing all manner of physically impossible stunts? Er, well realism is a good reason actually, but realism goes out of the window in DRAGON FROM Russia.

For an action-packed movie like this, it's a real shame that most of the fights are so over the top as to be laughable. Don't get me wrong, there are some occasionally solid moments, usually when things calm down a bit or are based on a smaller scale, like a kinetic bout at a train station that progresses into a moving train. In addition, the storyline is extremely muddled, taking about half the running time before things really get moving. These factors combine to make this a difficult watch.

Along the way, there's a lot of laboured comedy relief which sits at odds with the supposedly emotive central plot, a strange, rubber-faced bad guy (played by Yuen Tak, one of the seven Yuens along with Jackie, Yuen Biao, Sammo and Yuen Wah, who also has a non-masked supporting role), an extremely slow spot during the middle section where absolutely nothing happens, some lame romance, an entirely extraneous Maggie Cheung (as per usual) and a few nicely-staged assassinations. Sadly, the ending fizzles rather than goes out with a bang, and the whole thing is so convoluted that it's impossible to take seriously. In this instance, I'll take the American version over the Chinese, I think…

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2 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

Some of you are Confused

8/10
Author: Masta_Ruthless from Memphis Tn
19 January 2006

Dragon From Russia is an excellent movie to watch. The Story of Crying Freeman is on par with the manga it's self. I mean did you guys watch the same movie as I did? Mark Dacascos did a good job, but the likeness was really not there. Dean Shek did a good job in putting this film together. The action was good, the comedy was a little bit over the top, but then again so was the comedy in the anime.

The only thing that was missing in this movie was Bai Ya Shan, the overly huge child minded woman, but then again who in the hell could play that part.

For action and good story check this movie out. The average reviewers on here are just waiting to hate something anyway. See it for yourself and you'll know if you like it or not.

Me................. I give it 8.9 out of 10, that is only because like I said, the comedy was alittle over the top. Other than that GREAT MOVIE.

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2 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

Awesome movie!!

10/10
Author: Alexandre Bender (alex_bender83@hotmail.com) from Canada
9 November 2001

Dragon from Russia is sort of a live action of Crying Freeman but very different than the french version!What struck me here was the action: there is a good amount of fights which were awesome, especially the climactic one!! They use wires in the fight scenes but they didn't distract me at all.(The Church scene is an instant classic!) As long as you don't expect action from Maggie Cheung, this movie will satisfy the average action lover!!........................................9/10

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1 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

Great fun...

7/10
Author: Snoog from United Kingdom
19 June 2006

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

From 'Naked Killer' director Clarence Fok, comes this adaptation of the famous/infamous 'Crying Freeman' Manga. Although, this isn't a 100% accurate adaptation, unlike Christopher Gans 'Crying Freeman' movie, which I thought was pretty spot on.

The basic premise is here…man gets kidnapped by assassins, gets brainwashed and turned into a precise and deadly assassin…who sheds a tear for his victims (well, here he only does it once but whatever) But Fok has added his own touches to his take on the story, like the "Master Of The Dead" character (who I don't think was in the Anime/Manga…all I remember was some crusty old woman), the change of the girlfriend instead of a stranger being the catalyst for Freeman's rebellion, and bouts of comedy.

Ah, the comedy aspects, do they work or not? In moderation, yes, but for me, there was too much comedy here. This kind of story really commands a serious tone, but when you've got Sam Hui being dragged around by his feet every ten minutes and the Master Of The Dead looking like the Wicked Witch Of The West...and sounding like her too, it kind of ruins it a bit…for me anyway.

But, this is really a small complaint because what is the main attraction here is the action, which is top notch indeed. Choreographed by Yuen Tak (who plays the Master Of The Dead and Hui's assistant) the fights are fast, furious and damn fun to watch. It's not all kung fu, there are some car chases and the odd shoot out to behold too.

The cast all perform very well, from Hui as Yao Lung, the eponymous "Dragon From Russia", to the ever great Maggie Chueng as his long suffering girlfriend. Fan favourite Dean "have some more water now ya bastid" Shek turns up at the start of the film to set up the kidnapping of Lung. It's always nice to see Sir Shek.

Also Yuen Wah makes a brief but satisfying appearance as the masked variant of the 'Master Of The Dead' during the scenes in Russia…why the character is played by two people I don't know, I'll have to check the audio commentary, but it's always nice to see Yuen Wah kick some arse.

Fans of 'Crying Freeman' (if they haven't already seen this) will be happy to see a number of scenes wonderfully recreated, for example...Freeman's first job outside of the hotel, the assassination of the Japanese boss after the conference, and said Boss's wife getting it on with the cop…although, it's not as rampant as it was in the anime, and there's no 'erection/comedic gulp' moment…which was a shame.

I did enjoy this quite a bit, although I did find the plot a bit messy and hard to follow at times, as things happen quite fast it's hard to keep track. It's not a masterpiece, but it's damn fun. Worth getting ahold of just for the fight scenes alone...

(Taken from my forum - http://sjcultmovies1.proboards23.com)

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2 out of 6 people found the following review useful:

Awesome movie!!

10/10
Author: Alexandre Bender (alex_bender83@hotmail.com) from Canada
9 November 2001

Dragon from Russia is sort of a live action of Crying Freeman but very different than the french version!What struck me here was the action: there is a good amount of fights which were awesome, especially the climactic one!! They use wires in the fight scenes but they didn't distract me at all.(The Church scene is an instant classic!) As long as you don't expect action from Maggie Cheung, this movie will satisfy the average action lover!!........................................9/10

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2 out of 9 people found the following review useful:

A very bad adaptation of Crying Freeman

4/10
Author: chrichtonsworld from Netherlands
18 March 2007

To call "Dragon from Russia" a better movie than the Christopher Ganz version of "Crying Freeman" is simply wrong! Christopher Ganz's version is a real masterpiece and certainly compared to this crap! They changed quite a bit in the story from the manga: 1. the main character isn't a Japanese potter as it should be 2. the woman he has to kill isn't an artist but a dancer 3. the woman he has to kill is a lover from the main character's past before he became the crying freeman 4. they don't show that the main character is hypnotized. In this movie he just doesn't remember his past,how convenient! 5. dragon from Russia, the main character suppose to be Japanese,duhhh! 6. the "108 dragons" are a serious cult of assassins who put the fear in god of their enemies! In here the members and the leader are a bunch of fools who betray each other every chance they get! All of this could have been ignored if the action was top notch! There certainly is a lot of action! The problem is that with exception of a few action scenes the action isn't that special! The martial arts is average and too much wirefu which in this case is annoying! I really wanted to like this movie,but I can't it is just too bad!

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2 out of 13 people found the following review useful:

Crap of the 90's

1/10
Author: samuelding85 from Singapore
24 March 2006

It is forgivable for Maggie Cheung for acting in such a crappy action drama, with her excellence performance in the later stage of her acting career life, where Centrestage, Irma Vep, In the Mood for Love and Clean makes up for the crap she acted in her early days.

The plot sounds like any other action thriller, with Yao (veteran HK actor Sam Hui, unfortunately, takes the leading role of Yao), an orphan who grows up with Yip (Cheung) in USSR (before it was named Russia) and falls in love together. However, Yao was captured by a mysterious man who leads a Japanese underground assassination squad named Eight Hundred Dragon. Yao was trained by a weirdo on skills of assassination and eventually, Yao became one of the top assassin. He was stuck in the war between Eight Hundred Dragon and their rival squad, and he must get himself out of the war.

The plot is acceptable, and the first 20 min of the film is good. But after Yao was captured by the mysterious man, the whole film began to fail. It continues like crap and ends like crap. The editing was poorly done, leaving the audience with tonnes of question mark what has happened. Explosion scenes were poorly done, dialogs were laughable and tonnes of bullets were wasted just for the sake of using it.

Crying Freeman is also the film where you see female stars such as Nina Li Chi and Lolita Lee, who are well known in HK for their big boobs in X-rated films, in their pre X-rated film days. Their role given were above average, but the direction leaves them unable to expand their roles further.

In all, this is one of the worst production made in the 90's i've ever seen.

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3 out of 16 people found the following review useful:

Don't Watch This!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Author: Karkuen from Scotland
8 May 2003

This is a very BAD adaptation of the manga "Crying Freeman", the basic story line behind the film is absolutely CRAP! The fight scenes are poorly choreographed.

Overall a extremely dumb movie.

If you want to watch a good movie check out the actual live action version of the Manga "Crying Freeman", starring Mark Domasco

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