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Saturday, 26 March 2011

Crying Freeman - 1995

Recently I realised that I'd mainly reviewed excellent films on my blog, so I've decided to write a little post about a film I saw recently entitled Crying Freeman.
A very overlooked film that despite all it's flaws is still a solid action film, much better than a lot of the terrible action films of recent years (The Expendables, The A Team etc...). The reason it was so overlooked is probably because it didn't get a US release, for diverse reasons.
Crying Freeman is based on a popular Manga, which had previously been adapted into an Anime. I am unfamiliar with both the manga and the anime,so I probably enjoyed the film a bit more than those familiar with the source material for I heard it deviates considerably.
Directed by Christoph Gans, mainly known for the Brotherhood of the Wolf.
It stars Mark Dacascos and Julie Condra (who incidentally got married afterwards).

Crying Freeman has a distinct B movie feel to it, actually I would say it's more some kind of B+ movie.
For there are several aspects of it that are actually good, but ultimately it fails to put these aspects to use adequately and eventually they become overwhelmed by all the flaws of the film.

The director is obviously a talented one. But his work, which is actually much better than average, is brought down by the terrible acting, I mean literally not one actor was good in this, and the below average script. The script wasn't even that bad, but it was completely butchered by the actors. Their line delivery was some of the worst I've heard in a while. The terrible dubbing used for some of the actors is mainly to be blamed though...

But of course I didn't watch this film expecting excellent performances or a decent script, I watched it for the action scenes and to be entertained. I must admit that I wasn't disappointed, the action scenes were particularly good, but felt strangely out of place because they were quite classy in the midst of a rather vulgar film.
The director did a very good job at framing and editing the action, but it seems most of his attention went into that because all the other scene are very poorly shot and basically rely on too many close ups.
Here are some screenshots to give you a basic idea:
 Yep, they basically sum up the action of the film, I really liked the way it was shot, it was simple yet stylish, the use of slow motion was near perfect and the wide shots and editing were great, it was easily the best thing about his film. But sadly there are quite a few intervals between the action scenes. The whole Romance angle was a complete waste of time and although at first it seemed it would be the main storyline it just gradually got forgotten. Also the whole storyline involving the cops could have been done away with, it was useless really and seemed to act mostly as filler for the film.
The basic story was pretty stupid and messy but nothing particularly atrocious.
Basically the Freeman is the unwilling (apparently possessed by some kind of dark magic) assassin for an ancient Chinese order that has taken the protection of China upon itself. Thus he is sent to San Francisco where he assassinates some Yakuza's who have been posing a threat to his masters. Unfortunately the crime is witnessed by a young woman, he goes to kill her some time afterwards but they fall in love and flee to his sanctuary in Japan.

So did I like this film? well to be honest I was frustrated, it could have been so much better if it had freed itself entirely from it's B-movie style. 
With some better actors and a more serious script as well as some serous character development and the complete elimination of the Romance, this could have been a very good film. But as it is, it's a below average film with surprisingly stylish visuals that save it from being a totally forgettable B-movie.

Still, I've seen worse and at least this one doesn't take itself to seriously and has the decency to include a Samurai sword fight towards the end. I would have liked to see more of those.

Well that's about it, this is hardly one of my most in depth reviews but then again this is far from being a very challenging film. I suppose I just reviewed it to make a change from all the great films I review on this blog. And also because it's a film not many people have seen.
If you've seen it, don't hesitate to share your thoughts in the comments!

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