On his return to China, Charlie is honored at a Shanghai banquet for his many accomplishments. Prior to his speech Sir Stanley Woodland, a prominent official in the colony, confides to Charlie that he has discovered some sinister activities and wants to share the information with the detective as soon as they are alone. When Sir Stanley is silenced by a booby-trapped box, Charlie seeks to discover the undivulged secret as well as the killer. Along with Col. Watkins, the police commissioner, and G-Man James Andrews, Charlie works to expose an international opium-smuggling ring operating out of Shanghai. With the help of son Lee, he survives a kidnapping and murder attempt while exposing the identity of the head of the drug ring. Written by
G. Taverney (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Everything you'd expect in a Warner Oland "Charlie Chan" film.
The Hawaiian detective, Charlie Chan, visits the homeland of his ancestors along with his son, Lee. Once there, not unexpectedly there is a murder and Chan is called into action to solve the crime. It seems that somehow the Opium trade and the US State Department are pulled into the case and it's up to clever Charlie to solve it. Along the way, you get to see Oland sing a cute little song to a group of kids (a rarity in these films) and his son is there to provide some comic relief, though it's much more subdued and less blundering like it was in later films--and this is indeed a relief. Lee isn't the idiot like many of the later Chan clan!
I've long thought that the Charlie Chan films deserve to be remembered far better than they have--particularly the early ones that featured Warner Oland as the brilliant detective. While they clearly were B-movies (lower budget films intended for a double-feature), they were significantly better than nearly all the other detective series films from the same era. Excellent writing and production values compared to the rest of the genre really set them apart. Here, we've got the whole package--Oland in the title role, his best sidekick (#1 son, played by Keye Luke), a very good plot and a less hurried pace than the cheaper series made by Monogram in the 1940s---so it's certainly well worth a look.
By the way, in today's world, the Chan films are not exactly welcome in many circles because they are NOT politically correct. This ISN'T because they portray Asians badly--heck, Chan is seen as brilliant and the rest of the Asians in this film are decent folks and not cardboard stereotypes. However, Chan was played in this and the rest of the films of the next couple decades by Westerners in Asian garb. While insensitive, for the era it was made, this was the norm and I hope that viewers can accept this and just watch the films for their own merits.
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