Crying Freeman (1995)

Rating: ****
Director: Christophe Gans
Music: Patrick O'Hearn
Cast: Mark Dacascos, Julie Condra, Masaya Kato, Yoko Shimada, Tcheky Karyo, Rae Dawn Chong

An incredible looking film adaptation of the Japanese manga of the same title, and one of the best films I've ever seen. An ancient Chinese society called "The Sons Of The Dragon" have a single executioner known as "The Freeman." He is the guardian of the Chinese people and fights against oppression. When a beautiful and tragic young girl (Julie Condra) witnesses an assassination by the Freeman (Mark Dacascos), she knows that he'll be back to kill her. She is thrilled by the prospect, and asks him to make love to her before killing her. He falls for her and betrays his superiors by allowing her to live as his chosen partner. In the midst of this is an escalating gang war between the Yakuza and the Sons Of The Dragon which the Freeman must resolve, but the Dragons also have plans for him as well. Fantastic cinematography, gorgeous set pieces, a sensational music score, a tight and intelligent script, strong performances, and extremely competent martial arts sequences set this apart from so many other low budget comic book adaptions. Mark Dacascos is wonderful, and it's a complete mystery to me why he isn't a big action star. An even bigger mystery is why this American film has been released in nearly every country in the world except America.