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紅場飛龍 (1990)
The Dragon from Russia

Reviewed by: dandan
Date: 04/26/2006
Summary: no bears, vodka or dancing...

basically a hong kong version of the 'crying freeman' story, with sam hui in the lead role. it's a pretty standard tale of a man being kidnapped by a secret society with highly evolved martial arts skills, who has his memory erased and is trained to be a killing machine. all is well until one day he runs into his old fiance (maggie cheung) and he decides to leave the society; something that is frowned upon.

entertaining stuff, with some fantastically assembled action sequences that use all manner of stylisation to good effect. the film swings between the serious and the silly at an alarming pace, but it all works out in the end.

good stuff...

Reviewed by: Sydneyguy
Date: 09/20/2005
Summary: Inner Strength and Pjshimmer got it right!!

The chinese version of the manga "crying freeman" is poorly made.There is a poor flow to the movie and the script probably needed to be reviewed 100 more times!! What a waste of time and money.

The only good thing in this movie........its not the worst movie i have seen!!


Reviewed by: ewaffle
Date: 07/30/2005
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

Reviewed by: pjshimmer
Date: 04/14/2004
Summary: absolutely horrible

What a bad movie! On top of a flawed script, you get Terrible plot, atrocious execution, stone acting, and just ridiculous random fight scenes. Clearly I must say there isn't anything positive about this movie except perhaps some clever choreography -- but even then, the low budget limited the creativity.


Reviewer Score: 1

Reviewed by: MrBooth
Date: 03/01/2003
Summary: medium-level classic

Well, what a difference a new set of subtitles can make! The Mei Ah release of DRAGON FROM RUSSIA had simply some of the worst subtitles I've seen, making very little sense of the whole movie... it was still some madcap fun though. Now Hong Kong Legends presents the movie with an anamorphic transfer and new subtitle translation and it's like seeing a different film entirely. Suddenly there's a plot... there's drama, intrigue, emotion... and still lots of madcap fun on wires.

Based rather loosely on the Japanese manga Crying Freeman, DRAGON FROM RUSSIA stars Sam Hui as a man kidnapped by a gang called the "800 Dragons", brainwashed and trained as an assassin. When called upon by the gang to kill a female witness who may be able to identify him, he decides he cannot do it - which by the gangs rules means he must die too. That's the bit that DFR shares with CRYING FREEMAN anyway, but it takes a lot of liberties with the plot, including a whole lot of brand new backstory to Sam Hui's character.

Clarence Fok gets a lot of hating, and to be fair he has made some dreadful movies... which is strange, because there was a period from 1988 to 1993 where he looked to be one of Hong Kong's most interesting directors. First came ICEMAN COMETH, a fun fantasy film with stunning visuals and inventive action. This led Cinema City to commision him to direct DRAGON FROM RUSSIA, which pushes even further into the heavily stylised camerawork and lighting, and pushes the action to delirious levels. The action choreography from Yuen Tak (who also finds time to play 2 roles in the movie) is tremendously inventive, featuring some of the most clever and intricate wirework you'll see - and it should be noted that this movie came out before the SWORDSMANs and ONCE UPON A TIME IN CHINAs that made this kind of wirework so popular.

Sam Hui always seemed like an unlikely choice for an action lead, given that he was already in his 40's and best known as a cantopop singer and comedian. In 1990 he had the lead role in DFR and SWORDSMAN though, both of which he handled very well. His physique here is pretty impressive, and though I don't think he had any real martial arts training he does a capable job with the fights (doubtless with the aid of some stunt doubles). Yuen Tak has spent more time behind the cameras than in front of them, which is a real shame because he has a lot of presence in both the roles he plays here (though as the Master Of Death he's under so much makeup you wouldn't recognise him). His training as one of the Seven Little Fortunes really shows in the action scenes too, looking far more professional than Sam Hui. I wonder why he didn't get more substantial roles?

There's a bevy of babes in the movie, including Maggie Cheung in one of her early "little girl" type roles, Loletta Lee (who really was a little girl at the time, but is quite adorable), Nina Li Chi and Carrie Ng (just as sultry here as in Naked Killer).

I wasn't too fond of DRAGON FROM RUSSIA when I first saw the Mei Ah disc, but I always suspected that it was severely hurt by the terrible subtitles. The HKL disc proves me right, and does the film infinitely more justice. In fact I'd say it elevates it from "interesting curio" to "medium-level classic". Certainly it's a fine example of the kind of movie that only Hong Kong seems able to make - fast paced, visually super-stylish and tremendously inventive action scenes.

Definitely Recommended.

Reviewer Score: 8

Reviewed by: Wurms
Date: 07/25/2002
Summary: EEK!

Well, I was suckered into this for the fight scenes. I wasn't disappointed in that department. However, everywhere else, I was.

The story starts out simple. Man from Russia, Man gets kidnapped from Russia, Man gets trained by old master to become an assassin.

Now it gets confusing, no the story isn't really confusing, its the directing that makes it that way. Much time elapses (days? months? years?) and we never know how long. Let me give you an example: During the movie a woman (won't use any names for spoilers sake) gets shot twice. The movie goes off to other things, then about 2 minutes later we see that same women who just got shot, dancing like nothing happened. HUH? Yea, never told us how long its been or anything. It does this type of thing a lot throughout the movie making everything confusing as hell.

Also, it throws in so many characters that come in then just die in the next scene, and we are suppose to know who they are, HUH? Horrible!

Well, the fight scenes are great. There are touches of wire-fu here and there throughout but the good stuff stays on the ground. There are two short nunchaku sparring sequences which are pretty cool also.

Rating: 1/5

Rating for just the action: 4/5

See it for the action, not for the movie.

Reviewer Score: 2

Reviewed by: Inner Strength
Date: 06/03/2002
Summary: Bad

Based on the Japanese comic of the same name, this adaptation is an adventure starring Sam Hui, as a martial arts expert who resides in Russia with his master, played by Dean Shek. He is hunted by assassins who have been trying to find him for years.

The adventure (if you can call it that) that follows is extremely dull, and its fast pace shows scene after scene with little time to catch on to what exactly is happening. This film seems to jump from country to country too, including Russia, Macau and the mainland, all of which not really have anything to do with the story.

Maggie Cheung is just left on the screen looking nice, and doesn’t do much, much like Nina Li who is an evil assassin.

Even Manga fans who might know more about the comics then me who see this will probably find it disappointing. Even though this was one of the first (if not THE first) HK films to be shot almost entirely in Russia, that is also not much of a reason to watch this.


Reviewed by: GlennS
Date: 04/11/2001
Summary: Outstanding Action, , Convoluted Plot

An adaptation of the Crying Freeman manga, done HK style. The plot in a nutshell: Yao (Sam Hui) is kidnapped by the leader of the 800 Dragons, Master of the Dead (Yuen Tak under a lot of makeup) to be trained as an assassin. His memory is erased so he doesn't remember his past in Russia and growing up with May (Maggie Cheung) as orphans.

He starts doing hits as Freeman and May, after looking for him for over a year, is a witness to one of them. So Freeman is ordered to kill her by the gang.

The second half of the film takes a turn for the confusing as the viewer doesn't really know who's double crossing who.

The film is shot with that crazy Clarence Fok style with a lot of quick cuts in the action and disjointed narrative. Speaking of the action, it's fantastic and I don't think I've seen wirework (as much as I detest it) done any better.


Reviewer Score: 7

Reviewed by: leh
Date: 12/09/1999

A pretty close adaption of the Japanese "Crying Freeman"manga/ anime, which still manages to loose most of the interesting bits of the original story. Clarence Ford action directing still makes this worth watching.

Reviewed by: hkcinema
Date: 12/08/1999

This dragon breathes a little flame every 10 minutes or so. The first half of the picture is spent on "training", which reminded me of a watered-down and unfunny "Drunken Master". Then the film switches gears, and suddenly blood starts spraying. Some of the action direction and fights are nice, but emotionally, the film has no punch whatsoever. Too bad, because Maggie would have been perfect for the part. I wonder what happened to the American version...


[Reviewed by Dan Liatowitsch]

Reviewed by: hkcinema
Date: 12/08/1999

A fun but weirdly paced film based on the japanese manga CRYING FREEMAN. Clarence Ford's directing is, once again, very chaotic. It's not always possible to know what's going on, this is something that a certain type of fans enjoyed a lot, those are the same peoples (and there is several of them) who are die hard fans of director Ching Siu-tung . The storytelling is chaotic too! The film switch from one situation to another on a very awkward way. Maybe this one an attempt from Ford to give a comic book feel to his film. I must admit that even it that made the film hard to follow, it add a certain charm to the whole thing. Anyway it worth to be seen, but expect a very strange viewing experience.

[Reviewed by Martin Sauvageau]

Reviewed by: spinali
Date: 12/08/1999
Summary: NULL

May Yip (Maggie Cheung) and Yao (Sam Hui) are both orphans and have been friends since youth, but they're torn apart when the leader of the 8 Hundred Dragons kung fu cult abducts Yao and erases his memory. Now, with the help of Pearl, the Master's daughter (Michelle Lee), he'll be trained to be the ultimate assassin. But there's a problem: when May witnesses one of the Yao's (now renamed Freeman) hits, he's ordered to kill her -- which, if you've ever seen Maggie Cheung, is inconceivable. An abundance of well-choreographed fight scenes; perhaps too many.


[Reviewed by Steve Spinali]

Reviewer Score: 5