|Posted by Mr. Smooth on August 20, 2012 at 4:20 PM|
I can't really think of a good tagline for this one so...CRYING FREEMAN!
To quote Sir Ahnold Schwarzenneger in the awesometastic-looking "The Expendables 2", I'M BACK! Sorry everyone that I was away for so long but I was starting to feel a slight lack of enthusiasm for just about everything, including my blogs, even though they mean so much to me, but after a short break I feel refreshed and ready to do some more good work in a vain attempt to make you all like me. And on my triumphant return, I've decided to resuscitate arguably my most obscure and least-loved series, The Heroic Bloodshed Corner, by this time focusing on a fairly obscure 1995 French-Canadian action film based on a Japanese manga, "Crying Freeman"! And whoever said that Heroic Bloodshed was purely a Hong Kong endeavour? But yes, we're here to talk about "Crying Freeman", a pretty damn good action film, although not without its noticeable flaws, and thats what I'm going to be going over. And with that, lets get started;
So the film begins with a young lady named Emu (yes, really) O'Hara is enjoying painting a hillside somewhere, when she is interrupted by an assassin chasing down and killing three members of the Yakuza. Although he doesn't really seem to care, she notices that he sheds a single tear at their deaths. Surprisingly instead of killing her too, he introduces himself as Yoh. Either that or he's really hip. She returns to her home in Vancouver (God Canada, is there a worse place to set an action film?), still mesmerised by the man she saw on the hill. However, coincidentally, the father of the main Yakuza guy killed in the opening comes to Vancouver as well to have a meeting with Interpol or something, telling them that he is going to declare war on a Triad group known as "The Sons Of The Dragon", because, well, they killed his son man! Detective Netah (played by the excellent Tcheky Karyo) tells his team the history of the Sons Of The Dragon (which he knows somehow), telling them that their main assassin is someone known simply as The Freeman. The old Yakuza guy tells them that Emu will be his next target, due to the fact that she witnessed his son's assassination (how he knows this is a mystery to me also as there was no one else on the hillside and she clearly didn't report it to the police or anything).
Soon after leaving however, the old Yakuza guy and his henchmen are then killed by the Freeman, wearing a mask now for some reason, which is never seen again, along with his assistant Koh, a character who I really like and will tell you more about later on, before escaping by...running away. Really fast. The police arrest Emu, but of course, she doesn't know anything so she gets to go home, although they do give her an alarm in case anyone like, tries to kill her or something. Turns out that Netah is working with the Yakuza or something, with Ryuji Hanada wanting to take over the Yakuza gang now that the leader is dead, by killing the Freeman. They of course see that Emu is the weak link and that the Freeman will try and kill her eventually. Emu returns home from the police station and finds the Freeman waiting for her, having burned a painting which she had made of him. He is about to kill her, when he decides instead to have sex with her. He is a man after all. Of course, Hanada's men break in soon after, only to be quickly dispatched by Yoh. Hanada himself arrives but Freeman apparently kills him when Koh arrives and gives him a gun. Koh demands that he kills Emu as instructed, but Yoh decides to drive her to the hospital instead, having spontaneously fallen in love with her. Because as we know, sex equals love. Yoh has to go back to Japan now, so he tells Emu to meet him there. Hanad is also revealed to have survived thanks to a handy bulletproof vest (wouldn't a good assassin aim for the head?) Thus all of the characters head to Japan for a final showdown, as all of their coinciding plots and plans come to a head, in not one, but two bloody showdowns. Prepare for awesomeness.
So what do I like about this film? Well, the action scenes in this film are very, very well choreographed, mainly due to the talent of Mark Damascos as a martial artist. I don't really like his acting as much, but it was pretty damn impressive. The final shootout/swordfight was amazing and really enjoyable, as Freeman uses every single weapon at his disposal in order to defend his mountain shrine from a few dozen Yakuza hitmen, including a pretty hilarious part where a group of them stand around Emu (having taken her hostage) berating one of them for smoking as it is bad for their health, only for the man to get an arrow in the back, mistaking his death screams for a bad cough. I like the characters of Koh and Netah, mainly because I always like characters with complex loyalties. Koh clearly sees Yoh as his friend, but is torn by his commitment to The Sons Of The Dragon, which creates some pretty good moral conflict. Netah isn't as good a character, with his role in the story getting a little bit confusing near the end, although I basically think he wants to take over the Yakuza society along with Hanada's wife, but I'm not sure, I wasn't really paying attention. I think I just really like Tcheky Karyo as an actor, as he puts in probably the best performance, but not the most memorable, seeing as I do like Koh a lot better. Also, I really like the musical score to this film. I don't really want to go into much detail about it seeing as I'm not really a music person, but I like the fact it isn't too brash and loud, instead opting for something a lot more subdued but still very good, which fits, seeing as apart from the action, this is a very sombre film which tries its best not to be too over the top, meaning the music fits perfectly. Also, some of the imagery in this film is simply brilliant. There is a scene where the Freeman kills a Mafia don (for some reason) which is entirely in slow motion, and backed by classical music, which is truly astonishing. For a film which is very low budget, that is quite an achievement to make such a memorable scene.
Onto what I don't like, and I have to go back to Mark Damascos. He's a great martial artist, but he isn't a very good actor. He's a little bit wooden and his dialogue is not delivered at all well, adding to the overall woodeness. That's probably why he isn't really the complete focus of the film. He's in it a lot, yes, but he doesn't really do all that much except from kill people. Which is what he's good at. Emu isn't the greatest character either, as she isn't exactly a strong woman, and doesn't really add the supposed "human element" to the story, as again, she doesn't really do much, apart from get in danger and be really good in bed, clearly. I like it in films when someone who starts off as little more than a typical woman character becomes a little bit more badass as the film continues, the main examples being Sarah Connor and Ellen Ripley, which is what Emu should have been like, but sadly wasn't. Even in the final shootout, she just stands around whilst Freeman kills people around her. Although I think she does shoot someone, but its not the same! Also, although I praised the choreography earlier, I didn't like the fact that there was a lot of that diving around bullshit, especially when there was really no reason for it, other than the fact that someone thought it was cool probably. Except me. Also, does it annoy anyone else that they clearly took all of the names from the original manga and just gave them to American/Canadian/Turkish-French (or whatever the fuck Tcheky Karyo is)? That's just laziness.
But enough criticizing, this film is pretty good and pretty fun at the same time. Not a patch on some of the better Heroic Bloodshed films but its still pretty good. There are some noticeable flaws that hold it back but none that make it unwatcheable (although hearing Mark Damascos talking about clay was a bit embaressing) and I suggest you all watch it. Hope you enjoyed my review and please comment if you've seen this film and what your thoughts on it are, or if you just think it sounds great. Glad to be back and see you all next time.
Categories: Mr. Smooth's Smoothatorium