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Released both as a 15-chapter serial and as a condensed feature version (for theaters that didn't use serials) which means that all of the cast and crew would one day be credited in some sources with a misleading extra film appearance added to their filmographies even though they only worked on (and got paid) for one performance or job. The story (serial and/or feature) deals with the plotting of a European importing firm to put Chinese trade competition in a west coast Chinatown - city unnamed, but it's by the bay and it isn't Oakland - out of business. Their representative, Sonya Rokoff/The Dragon Lady, a beautiful Eurasian girl, hires Victor Poten, a mad Eurasian chemist and inventor and an equal-opportunity racist who hates both Chinese and White races, to aid her. Poten, by means of his infernal inventions and underworld henchmen, conducts successful raids on the Chinese merchants and also successfully eludes the people hunting and investigating him. Those include newspaper ... Written by
Les Adams <email@example.com>
SHADOW OF CHINATOWN is hardly the zenith of serials, but time has lent it a certain amount of charm as a period piece, showing a romanticized vision of a 1930s city and Chinatown, both of which would have been equally exotic to most of the serial's viewers at the time. It possesses a certain wisecracking humour, especially from Lugosi's henchman, lacking in all the later serials. The cast rise above the material, and some of the portrayals verge upon endearing; Lugosi is always a pleasure to watch, and you get a glimpse of his acting ability, his adeptness with nuances and subtleties, even when dealing with one-dimensional characters with over-the-top declarations. Say what you want about this serial, but it's on my view-annually list.
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