Detective James Lee Wong is on the scene as archaeologist Dr. John Benton, recently returned from an expedition in China where a valuable ancient scroll was recovered, is murdered while giving a lecture on the expedition.
The Japanese character, Mr. Moto, disguises himself as a German as part of the plot when in fact a Germanic (actually Austro-Hungarian) actor, Peter Lorre, is portraying a Japanese detective. See more »
This was my first look ever at Peter Lorre's "Mr. Moto" character, and I couldn't help but compare and contrast him to the famous "Charlie Chan" of a similar period. "Mr. Moto" is charming but isn't the comedian or the proverb-quoting Chan. I would have to watch a few more Moto movies before I could really compare the two fairly, as for quality and entertainment value, but what I saw in this film impressed me. My guess is that both of them are winners. I'm anxious to watch another Mr. Motor adventure, after seeing this.
I think both characters did a lot - or at least I hope they did - to put Asians in a favorable light. Hey, Chan and Moto are the heroes in their movies, and the smart and courageous guys who solve the murders. These series had to be a boost to the Asian-American community.
In this story, Moto pretends to be a fugitive from Devil's Island, one of two escapees who wind up in London. That was the idea all along for Our Man as he hoped his fellow man-of- flight, "Paul Brissac" would lead to him to bigger fish in the criminal world, specifically "The League of Assassins."
Just when I thought this film was starting to get a tiny bit slow, it picked up nicely and had very good last 20-some minutes with a suspenseful ending. The actions were hokey but so what? The film is 70 years old so I don't expect state-of-the-art special-effects. In spots, it was so corny it made it fun. I was shocked how physical little Mr. Moto was, throwing bodies around like a WWF bruiser!
Two quality actors, in addition to Lorre, had key roles in here: Leon Ames ("Brissac") and Henry Wilcoxon ("Darvak"). There's some good direction in here, too, by Norman Foster, who not only directed some Mr. Moto films, but a few Charlie Chan movies, too. He also married Claudette Colbert.
In addition, the restoration job on the DVD transfer makes this a good-looking film.
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