Dragon From Russia (HK 1990)

Rating: **
Director: Clarence Fok
Cast: Sam Hui, Yuen Tak, Maggie Cheung, Nina Li Chi, Carrie Ng, Pai Ying, Loletta Lee, Dean Shek

A silly and confusing film that's loosely based on the Japanese manga "Crying Freeman," starring Sam Hui as the legendary assassin, Yo. Hui and his adopted father (Dean Shek) are living in Russia along with Hui's sweetheart, Maggie Cheung. An old enemy (Yuen Tak) tracks Shek down and murders him, and then he kidnaps Hui to train him as a super assassin. Meanwhile, there's a power struggle going on between the old master and his disciples, and Carrie Ng and Pai Ying go rogue. Cute Loletta Lee is on hand to help with Yo's training, and sexy Nina Li shows up as a rival with unknown intentions. Eventually, Hui and Cheung are reunited, and everyone turns against everyone else in a free-for-all fight to the finish.

Typical of Sam Hui, the plot is an incoherent mess and the action is outrageously bombastic. Hui mixes his goofy sense of humor with his impressive physical skills to good effect, and there are some jaw-dropping training scenes. There is some really good (and sometimes silly) fight choreography and stuntwork courtesy of Sam Hui, Yuen Tak, and Pai Ying, and even Carrie Ng and Nina Li get some pretty good chops in, which is nice to see. The Russian locales are beautiful and create a tangible sense of coldness. It's definitely a top-notch production, but the frenetic pacing, goofy presentation, and nonsensical plot make it hard to enjoy. Like many Hong Kong action films, the sum of the pieces is greater than the whole.