The Dragon from Russia is a 1990 Hong Kong movie directed by Clarence Fok, based on the popular manga Crying Freeman, starring popular Canto-pop singer Sam Hui, Maggie Cheung shortly after her breakthrough role in As Tears Go By, and Nina Li (wife of Jet) who's at that time in her phase of portraying Dark Action Girl characters.
Yao Lung (Sam Hui) and May Yip (Maggie Cheung) are orphans living in Russia, who promised to be with each other no matter what happens and will be together forever when they grew up. But when Yao Lung witnessed an assassination, and is subsequently captured alive by the 108 Dragons Cult behind a series of killings happening all over Moscow, he is forcibly brainwashed against his will to forget his previous life and trained to become an assassin under the cult. Now a ruthless, masked killing machine, Yao Lung ends up remembering his past with May once more, after she assumed he was dead, when she inevitably crosses path with him.
It is interesting to note that the movie is released a few months after Killer's Romance, starring Simon Yam, another Hong Kong film also inspired by the Crying Freeman manga, although both films takes on a different approach in storytelling: Killer's Romance tends to go directly into the action with a more straightforward storyline, with the protagonist already a seasoned hitman from his first second of screentime, while Dragon From Russia provides a somewhat complicated origin story with its longer running time and more characters to develop, using its extended runtime to flesh out the protagonist's and various supporting characters' backgrounds.
Tropes associated with this work:
- Arrogant Kung-Fu Guy: Most of the main characters which isn't Yao Lung.
- Bad Habits: During the church shootout, Chimer arrives to assist Yao Lung, by shooting at faceless mooks while dressed as a nun.
- Bloodstained Glass Windows: The penultimate battle between Yao Lung and Kishudo takes place in a church, which leads to Yao Lung and Kishudo fighting each other from between the pews to around the bell. Yao Lung wins by stabbing Kishudo through the chest with his knife and knocking Kishudo off with a Railing Kill.
- Chekhov's Skill: In their final battle, the Master of Death launches a knife at Yao Lung in a last-ditch attempt to kill him. Remembering his earlier training with his toes, Yao Lung ditches his shoes, catches the knife in mid-air, and expertly sends the knife into the Master of Deaths throat.
- Cutlass Between the Teeth: Yao Lung in more than one scene◊ when carrying out hits.
- Dark Action Girl: Chimer, a female assassin who is from the same organization who trained Yao Lung into being a killer, who is ruthless, emotionless, and kills without blinking an eye.
- Deadly Delivery: An enemy assassin, Wong Tak-yuen, tries getting the drop on Yao Lung by posing as a delivery guy and attacking Yao Lung as soon as he opens the door.
- Easy Amnesia: Yao Lung, who gets brainwashed into an emotionless assassin and killing machine, does regain his memory in the end after regaining consciousness from a short coma.
- Fighting with Chucks: Yao Lung, besides the usual assassin training, is also skilled in using these as a backup weapon, including engaging Chimer in a nunchuck duel blindfolded.
- Handy Feet: Assassins under the 108 Dragons somehow needs to train using their legs for handling daily routines. In one early scene Chimer is seen cooking by holding a spatula with her toes, and then feeding Yao Lung poached eggs on the same spatula still being held by her foot.
- Inspiration Nod:
- Much like the original Crying Freeman, which this movie is loosely based on, Yao Lung at several points does fight barefoot with a short knife clipped between his toes.
- One of Yao Lungs assassination happens outside a hotel, where Yao Lung, much like Yoh / Crying Freeman, kills an opponent with a thin blade concealed in an umbrella while disguised as a bellhop.
- Knife Nut: Most of the assassins in the movie; Yao Lung, Chimer, the Master of Death, Kishida
- Mark of the Beast: Yao Lungs tattoo of a Chinese dragon that covers his entire back, seen in his Walking Shirtless Scene after his initiation into becoming an assassin and expert killer.
- Ms. Fanservice: Chimer had a Walking Swimsuit Scene in a shiny, high-collared black one-piece in the shower assassination. And she fights Yao Lung while wearing that suit, with her hair and skin dripping wet, accompanied by plenty of close-ups on her thighs and chest.
- Mystical 108: The 108 Dragons Cult who trained Yao Long into becoming a killer, true to its inspiration source
- Names to Run Away from Really Fast: The Big Bad of the movie, and the final boss Yao Lung have to contend with, is called The Master of Death.
- Nothing Up My Sleeve: Kishida, who hides throwing knives in his Coat Cape, which he can launch half a dozen at a time at Yao Lung.
- Not What It Looks Like: The shower stall fight between Yao Lung and Chimer (the latter in a very tight, black one-piece swimsuit and dripping wet) had them entangled in a rather... intimate position◊, with Chimer raising her right leg over Yao Lung's shoulder, just as another assassin suddenly enters.
- Prehensile Hair: Briefly demonstrated by the Master of Death in the final battle, using his braids, whose tip ends in a sharp pin, to lash out towards Yao Lung like its a whip.
- Run for the Border: Late into the movie, Yao Lung and May have to flee the authorities by driving their vehicle towards the Russian-Chinese border, while being pursued on by the authorities, leading to a massive shootout between Yao Lung and a whole platoon of Chinese soldiers. He barely makes it, but Chimer, having a change of heart, returns to assist his escape on a motorcycle, shooting away with her machine-gun providing cover fire.
- Scarf of Asskicking: Worn by most of the assassins, including Chimer and Yao Lung, at different points of the movie.
- Shower Scene: May is in the middle of her shower when she stumbles into Chimer, oblivious to the fact that Chimer is about to kill her and asking if shes interrupting Chimers shower.
- The Stoic: Chimer, who rarely shows expressions even when about to kill her targets.
- Super Window Jump: Yao Lung, while fighting rival assassin Wong in a penthouse. Both of them ends up jumping out of the window and landing on the roof of an adjacent pedestrian bridge.
- Sword Fight: Between Yao Lung and the Master of Death. With katanas.
- Three-Point Landing: Inverted, with Yao Lung leaping upwards from ground level, and landing on the tip of a crucifix on a church. Kishudo imitates him using the same move, on an adjacent church steeple.
- Training from Hell: Yao Lungs training by the Master of Death into becoming an assassin.
- Unwilling Suspension: May is subjected to being hung from a ceiling by her wrists after being captured by the Master of Death.
- White Mask of Doom: Yao Lungs white Domino Mask which he wears when performing hits. Although technically its only half a mask, leaving his mouth and chin exposed.
- Wire Fu: Most of the fight scenes defies the laws of gravity, where characters, especially Yao Lung, can leap and fly great distances In a Single Bound (even horizontally).
- Yakuza: Many faceless mooks who dies in this movie belongs to this syndicate.