The Dragon from Russia (1990)
Reviewed by: ewaffle on 2005-07-30
Summary: Looks great. Don't expect it to make sense.
There is no real point in trying to follow the plot of "The Dragon from Russia, since it is pretty obvious that Clarence Fok didn't--and from the finished product, it looks like the editors may have been working from production notes from a different movie altogether.

But it looks wonderful on the screen. There is an assassination, a knife fight or unarmed combat every couple of minutes. Much of it looks overcranked which is unfortunate, since the choreography and stunt work is good enough to stand on its own.

The reason I rented this movie, though, was that it starred Maggie Cheung, Carrie Ng, Nina Li and Loretta Lee--quite a quartet. Carrie looks ravishing, especially in a very short leather mini-dress. She accessorizes it with a pistol in a garter holster. Nina is as seductive as can be, especially wearing a silk kimono while tatooing Sam Hui's back. She is also stunning in a nun's habit. Loretta is both cute and sexy. Maggie is simply Maggie. She is one of the most beautiful and talented actresses of our generation. I think it is wonderful that she worked in Hong Kong when she did--she probably had more roles in any five year period than most Hollywood or European star actresses have in a lifetime. She looks great--one scene in which she is wearing a pastel flowing robe is worth sitting through a lot of dreary stuff.

I watched the Mei Ah release and the subtitles really are as bad as had been reported. Many of the subs just don't make sense while others have glaring spelling mistakes that draw attention to themselves.

There are a few decent extended scenes, most notably when Yao (Sam Hui) is kidnapped and brought to the assassination training camp of the Master of the Dead. Yao's training as a cold-blooded killer is essentially the same as any apprentice being taught by a master in any Hong Kong movie. But it turns this chestnut on its head. Yao wants to escape, his teacher is insanely evil and he is being taught to kill strangers on command.

The lack of continuity can be annoying--for example the ultimate battle begins in the dark of night, then suddenly switches to bright daylight. Characters hop from continent to continent without motivation or even explanation. Yao seems to be trying to escape into the PRC at one point in a car that has been hit with more rounds than fired in the last scene of "Bonnie and Clyde".

Can only recommend "The Dragon from Russia" for the female leads and some of the fights, but if you need a story that makes sense you should skip this one.
Reviewer Score: 5