Crying Freeman is a manga series written by Kazuo Koike and illustrated by Ryoichi Ikegami. Crying Freeman follows an assassin, a Japanese man hypnotized and trained by the Chinese mafia (called the "108 Dragons") to serve as its agent, and covered in a vast and complex dragon tattoo. A quiet but complicated killer, Freeman reflexively sheds tears after every killing as a sign of regret. The manga was originally serialized by Shogakukan on its magazine Big Comic Spirits from 1986 to 1988. It was first published in North America by Viz Media in comic book form. Viz later republished the series in graphic novel form in two versions: an initial set and longer volumes that combined the initial volumes together, dubbed "Perfect Collections." From 2006 to 2007, the manga was republished by Dark Horse Comics in five volumes.
Yo was the son of a famous potter and a rising pottery star himself. During a visit to America to showcase his works, a photographer hid secret pictures of the 108 Dragons in one of his pots. Yo found the photos and was asked by the Dragons to surrender them, but refused. As retribution, Father Dragon had him kidnapped and put under hypnosis to make him the perfect assassin, as he was considered the perfect candidate to lead the 108 Dragons. After his training was complete, he also received a giant dragon tattoo covering his body. Because he cries in remorse for his victims after he snaps out of his trance, he earned the name Crying Freeman. Hinomura eventually becomes the head of the very organization that transformed him into an assassin and cemented his legacy as the greatest criminal of the Far East.
Portrait of a Killer
Emu Hino, a beautiful but lonely 29 year old Japanese artist, witnesses one of Freeman's killings. Knowing he must kill her, she paints his portrait and waits for him to come. When he does so, she tells him that she is tired of being alone and wishes to end her life. She asks for a favor before he kills her - to make love to her, so that she will not die as a virgin. He grants her wish, but finds he cannot kill her and they fall in love. The killing she witnessed was of a Yakuza boss, so the yakuza want to find her so that they can find the killer. One of the yakuza attempts to enter Emu's home and force her to disclose the name of the killer, critically injuring her. Freeman takes her to the hospital and tells her to meet him at Hinomura Kiln, where he intends to part with her.
Instead, she accompanies him back to the 108 Dragons, where he tattoos her with tigers and they marry. The heads of the 108 Dragons decide to name Freeman as their heir. He is given the Chinese name Lóng Tài-Yáng, and Emu is renamed Hǔ Qīng-Lán, as both pass the tests given to them. It proves not as easy as that, however, as they must contend with challenges to the leadership from Bái-Yá Shàn, the granddaughter of the leaders of the 108 Dragons, and attempts to destroy the Dragons from other underground organizations.
Shades of Death Part I - Fusei Kakurei
With the blessing of the 108 Dragons, Yo and Emu marry and receive new names, Ron Tayan and Fu Ching Ran. The elders send them to Macau to find out who's behind a new attack. Fu is kidnaped; at the same time, Baya San (the huge granddaughter of the 108 Dragons' aged leaders) demands to be the next head of the gang, not Ron. The childish Baya San has joined forces with the Macau gang, in league with the American mob.
A surprise visitor from the US arrives where Fu is being held captive. Can Ron rescue her, find the traitor within the 108 Dragons, defeat his enemies, and bring discipline to Baya San? He must still face the angry and deadly girlfriend of the American visitor.
Shades of Death Part II - Eternal Love
Ron Tayan now leads the 108 Dragons; Fu Ching Ran is his loyal wife. As their body tattoos show, he's the dragon, she's the tiger. The 108 Dragons are attacked by African Tusk, a syndicate intent on world control. Ron goes to Africa, dealing first with Shicaro, African Tusk's assassin, then with Jagone, its leader. Despite his success, he must still face Bugnug, Jagone's muscular and athletic military commander: Ron gives her a new name, Dark Eyes. Back in Hong Kong, Fu faces danger as well. A Muramasa sword with a dark history and, seemingly, its own demon spirit, falls into her hands. She seeks to tame it, and in the process, discovers her inner warrior identity.
A Taste of Revenge - Oshu Tohgoku
Naitai, the evil head of the Great Bear God religion, hatches a plot to destroy the 108 Dragons. His henchman, Oshu Togoku, the world wrestling champion, squeezes Ron Tayan unconscious in a match; the ambulance taking Ron to hospital is actually driven by Kimie, one of Ron's old enemies. She takes him to Naitai's stronghold where he has prepared a clone of Ron whom he intends to send, like a Trojan horse, onto the yacht of the 108 Dragons.
Can Ron foil the plot? Will Fu recognize the clone or be fooled? What of Oshu Togoku, can anyone defeat him? And who, or what, can stand up to Naitai's sorcery?
Abduction in Chinatown - Battlefield of Kishibojin
In L.A.'s Chinatown, the crime cartel known as K.O. hatches a plot to bring down Ron Tayan and the 108 Dragons. Ron joins forces with the computer-savvy daughter of the local boss; she tracks the attacking gang via electronics, Ron goes to their stronghold via plane. They are kidnappers of young children, using ransom money to fuel their other activities.
The troops are former Green Berets; the leaders are Larry Park, an expatriate Yank, and Nina Heaven, a killer with a soft spot in her heart for Ron. He's her captive, but she wants him to be her partner. Meanwhile, Fu, armed with her Muramasa sword, and Dark Eyes arrive on the island surreptitiously. The battle lines are drawn.
The Russian Connection - The Light in the Darkness
Russian mafia boss Nicholaiev and Japanese yakuza Tsunaike plan to cut out the 108 Dragons trade and Nicholaiev offers Tanya to help him. Meanwhile Freeman sees a woman pass in a car he remembers from his past. When Freeman learns that 108 Dragons business is being squeezed he travels to Japan. Japanese Boss Watajima raises his concern about offending the 108 Dragons with Tsunaike. An unknown group carries out strikes against the Japanese yakuza, and the leaders suspect 108 Dragons.
They consider settling with them but a Tsunaike accuses the old leaders of cowardice. They agree to hire assassin Choko Tateoka to kill Freeman. Tsunaike privately hopes to take over following the bloodbath that would ensue. Tateoka ambushes Freeman, but fails and is killed. Freeman confronts his contacts in Japan who deny dealing with the Russians. Tsunaike implements his plan with Tanya to wipe out the yakuza leaders, and blame it on the 108 Dragons. Freeman agrees to meet Tsunaike on the docks, even though he suspects a trap.
When the 108 Dragons submarine destroys a ship arriving in port with 3,000 Russian mafia men, Freeman goes after Tsunaike, killing Tanya first. He finds Tsunaike holding the woman from his past as a hostage, they fight and Tsunaike is killed, freeing the innocent woman who does not recognize Freeman.
Skills and Abilities
Martial Arts Master: The 108 Dragons trained Freeman in various martial arts such as Kung-Fu and assassination techniques to transform him into a expert killer. He excels in strikes, grappling, usage of pressure points helps him contend against stronger enemies and groups.
Peak Physical Condition: Crying Freeman's physical attributes such as speed, strength, and endurance are trained in top physical condition. He has complete control over his bodily functions that grant him the ability to perform tasks impossible for a normal human. Feats include knocking an enemy's eye out of his socket with a single chop, exploding from the water into the air, and surviving an electrocution underwater.
Night Vision: Freeman has the innate ability of seeing perfectly in the dark without the assistance of advanced head ware.
Expert Marksmanship: Freeman has an advanced level skill of marksmanship in both firearms and projectile weaponry. He is able to gun down multiple enemies in rapid succession and project dagger at high speed through the usage of his foot.
Keen Intellect: Crying Freeman has shown to be a highly educated man with advance knowledge of the human anatomy.
High Observation and Listening Skills: Freeman has keen eyesight, able to pick up small anomalies like muscle movements in order to anticipate moves. His ears are shown to be very sensitive to slight noises such as rustling.
Criminal Mastermind: In the series, Crying Freeman is portrayed as a dangerous and cunning player of the criminal element. Freeman has orchestrated the downfall of numerous branches of rival organizations, assassinated numerous high ranking officials, and toppled savage terrorists organizations.
In addition to being the strongest man in the world, Lóng Tài-Yáng is also one of the most handsome, and no woman has been able to resist his charms, which he takes full sexual advantage of after Emu Hino becomes his wife.
Chinese daggers: Freeman's signature weapon. A simple six inch blade with a carved ebondy handle used for assassinations, close quarter combat, and throwing projectiles. As a signature move, he can wield the daggers between the webs of his feet with deadly efficiency, capable of unleashing lethal kicks.
Acupuncture needles: Small thread-like needles used through acupuncture therapy. Freeman uses these to immobilize or eliminate enemies through various pressure points throughout the body.
Crying Freeman (1988)
The manga was adapted into a six-part anime OVA (original video animation) series by Toei Animation that was released from September 1988 to January 1994.
- Portrait of a Killer
- Shades of Death Part I
- Shades of Death Part II
- A Taste of Revenge
- Abduction in Chinatown
- The Russian Connection
While the character designs are heavily based on Ikegami's artwork, the anime series uses abridged versions of the manga's storylines. Many of the more violent and graphic scenes of the manga, such as Bugnug's rape by Oshu, are severely truncated and censored in the anime. Freeman is voiced by Toshio Furukawa in the Japanese version and by Steve Bulen in the English version.
Loosely based on the manga series, a 1990 Hong Kong film starring actor Samuel Hui as Crying Freeman.
Yao Lung and May Yip are orphans who live in Russia with their adoptive family. Through the years, the two fall in love and promise that they will be together forever. One fateful day, Yao witnesses a murder being committed by a mysterious assassin. Shortly after this, he is captured and brainwashed by a mysterious cult of assassins call themselves "800 Dragons". After losing his memory of his past, he is forced to take very strict martial art training to become the perfect assassin for the 800 Dragons.
A triad assassin is sent to kill a female witness to a murder only to fall in love with her instead. Actor Simon Yam stars as Crying Freeman.
Loosely based on the "Portrait of a Killer" arc and starting actor Mark Dacascos as Crying Freeman.
A lethal assassin for a secret Chinese organisation, who sheds tears of regret each time he kills, is seen swiftly and mercilessly executing three Yakuza gangsters by a beautiful artist. She is captivated by the grace of his kill and later falls in love with him. An intense power struggle for the leadership of the Yakuza Clans ensues as they seek vengeance for the death of their leader. They soon realize the fatal mistake of underestimating the deadly skills of the Crying Freeman.