Crying Freeman (1995)
Director - Christophe Gans

DVD Released by : JY
Player reviewed with : Malata DVD-N996
Receiver reviewed with : Sony 925
English Soundtrack
English and Chinese Subtitles
Not Enhanced for 16 x 9 TVs
Running Time : 102 mins.

CRYING FREEMAN stars Mark Dacascos as Yo, an unassuming potter. During a show displaying his work, Yo is kidnapped and forced to carry out an assassination of a mobster. When he survives, he is tattooed by a witch and is told he has become the Freeman. Legend has it the there is always a Freeman to take vengeance on the enemies of the Dragons. The spirit can be reincarnated in any body and carries a curse. After vengeance is carried out, uncontrollable tears appear. Yo is guided by Koh (Byron Mann) who gives him jobs to carry out. During the assassination of a mob boss's son, Yo is seen by Emu (Julie Condra) who is painting in the woods. When the job is done, Yo lets Emu live much to the dismay of Koh. This hit causes major waves in the organized crime world. The mob boss knows there was a witness and that the Freeman will have to kill her. He asks that the police stay out of the w! ay. After the meeting with the police, the boss is assassinated. This creates a power struggle for control and to take the leader's place, somebody will have to kill the Freeman.

CRYING FREEMAN, while not a Hong Kong film, definitely has several attributes of one. Christophe Gans provides some great action scenes that actually make you feel like real bullets are flying. I did get the feeling once or twice that the movie suffered from what some Donnie Yen movies do. That is when the hero somehow beats hordes of enemies single-handedly without getting wounded. Thankfully, Gans seldom blinks when it comes to the action scenes and he makes it all look believable. Well, most of it at least. One character manages to get stabbed in the back, the spine to be exact, and has nothing to show for it than a bandage over the wound.

The picture quality, while non-anamorphic looks good on the 47 inch screen. The source print is just about free of any flaws. The colors are vibrant and the black level is good. As far as the transfer goes, the large screen does make some flaws apparent. Minor artifacts can be seen in very bright scenes but nothing that is distracting from the movie. This is mastered better than my BOONDOCK SAINTS DVD that was released in the US.

The sound has two options, DTS and PCM. I watched the movie with the PCM track. The sound is very good and after watching a lot of imports, this is an big improvement. The mixing is well done and the sound is pretty immersing. The bass is also used well. The sound is a pleasant surprise if you are used to bad 5.1 remixes.

Subtitles are the one minor annoyance of this DVD. The main language is English although there are some scenes with Japanese and Chinese being spoken. If you choose English subtitles from the menu, you get them throughout the movie. Since it's annoying to have English subtitles when the same language is spoken, I switched the subtitles "on the fly" with the remote. There are some key scenes that aren't in English so this is important.

There are no extras in this DVD.

CRYING FREEMAN is worth checking out. I know some people adore this movie and feel that it is a very good adaptation of the Manga the story is from. While I can't say I'm as enthusiastic over the film, it does have its moments.

Reviewed 9/07/2002