The legendary Mark Dacascos, plays the titular Crying Freeman, Yo, the sole assassin of a shady group called 'The Sons of the Dragon'. Inducted into his role without his consent, he turns out to be a natural killer and the myth of his invincibility grows around him. Dacascos does get to partake in quite a bit of killing during the course of the film. He moves with such deadly intent, closing in for the kill, that I could readily believe he is an assassin in real life. Possibly. Give him a gun, and it's like watching a top games player attain a perfect score on a level. He seems to know where every one of his assailants is coming from and there is no hesitation, and no mistakes, as he dispatches each one.
What does Christophe Gans bring to the proceedings then? There are some stunning images that you just wouldn't expect from a film of its type (and budget). The masked Freeman leaping through the air in slow motion, shooting some ne'er do wells mid-air whilst cars explode in the background is probably the highlight. Brilliant. There is also a really cool shot of a de-shirted Freeman, showing off his massive dragon tattoo, stood in front of a huge statue, as he readies his sword. You can see that Gans has a love for films like this. At times it plays like a straight Yakuza film and at others it is more akin to Hong Kong fantasies, such as, Heroic Trio. The whole film is played straight and the serious tone is ably assisted by the excellent score from Patrick O'Hearn.
Not satisfied with being an action film with a smidgen of fantasy spice, it's also a love film. Emu O'Hara (Julie Condra - Mark Dacascos' real-life wife, they met on this film) witnesses The Freeman on one of his killing jaunts and so, he is sent to kill her. Interestingly, she actually wants him to kill her. You find out why through some narration. Normally, narration can be shocking - see the original cut of Dark City as a prime example of narration spoiling a film by severely dumbing it down - but in this it embellishes the story in a way that you couldn't otherwise know or work out.
Many other familiar faces crop up in Crying Freeman: Masaya Kato (Drive), Rae Dawn Chong (Commando), Mako (Conan The Destroyer) and Tcheky Karyo (The Core - one of my guilty pleasures), so you know you're in safe hands. All in all, a good film that I keep coming back to. I just wish it was in widescreen. It feels like it should be. Maybe when it comes out on Blu-ray (yeah, right).
And yes, I did notice that our heroine is called Emu, pronounced 'ee-moo'. It's not as if she goes around attacking Michael Parkinson, so don't get your hopes up.
If you like this you could also try:
Brotherhood of the Wolf, Drive, Hard Boiled, The Killer.
The film's not in Spanish. I just couldn't resist this trailer.