Thursday, 8 October 2015

Dragon from Russia (1990)

This film is full of people leaping, backflipping and performing all other kinds of acrobatics.  Even though much of it is clearly wire-fu, it's impressively staged stuff: histrionic and over the top, but well executed.

Alas, the script in which all of these feats of finesse take place is clumsy and awkward.  At its heart it's your standard "young man learns martial arts and must fight to protect himself and his loved ones" trope, but the story is weighed down with to many ancillary characters with too many conflicting and fluctuating allegiances.  When you're a martial arts movie, "who are these people and why are they fighting" are pretty much the only two questions your plot needs to answer.  Doing it as badly as this movie does is a recipe for failure (and indeed, I believe it was a financial flop).

A feud between rival master assassins leads one of them to kidnap a young man from Russia, brainwash him, and train him as a weapon to slay his (the master's) enemies.  Why the master assassin decides to do this is never really explained.  He seems more than capable of winning fights for himself.

After a not terribly convincing or even comprehensible training regime, the young man is sent out to perform assassinations.  However, his lover from before he was kidnapped just happens to see him complete his first 'hit'.  When he is sent to eliminate this witness, he finds himself unable to do so.  This leads to the pair being hunted by the cops, the master's enemies, and the master himself since his "weapon" has disobeyed his orders.

If you just want to watch some flashy wire-fu and extravagantly choreographed martial arts, then this film has you covered.  If you want it to have a coherent context though, you will need to look elsewhere.

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