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.
In the middle of a pictorial lecture on his recent expedition to the Mongolian Desert, Dr. John Benton the famous explorer, drinks from the water bottle on his lecture table, collapses and dies. His last words "Eternal Fire" are the only clue Chinese detective Jimmy Wong and Captain Street of the police department have to work on. Win Lee, Benton's secretary, reveals the doctor's dying words refer to a scroll which tells the location of rich oil deposits. Wong and Street then begin the search for the killer among Benton's associates. Written by
Les Adams <email@example.com>
Poverty Row programmers like this may now seem incredibly hokey, but at the same time they're fascinating time capsules of American mores of those bygone (and maybe not so bygone) days. This one is routinely scripted and handled with little inspiration (though lots of pace), yet it's quite idiosyncratic for its time. Most obviously, a real Asian (Keye Luke, better known as Charlie Chan's Number One Son) is finally given the opportunity to play an Asian detective. The screenwriters certainly take advantage of the unique casting, turning a lot of the expected racially-insensitive material on end -- Luke gets in a real zinger when he brashly compares the looting of a Mongolian sarcophagus to having a Chinese adventurer dig up and purloin George Washington's corpse from its tomb. Also relevant to the 21st century is the fact that the tomb raiders are not so much seeking the legendary Eternal Flame for cultural or historic reasons, but due to the conjecture that it is produced by a hidden treasure trove of priceless oil. Quite refreshing attitudes for a 40s B-movie, with some vivid scenes of Chinatown life and interesting travelogue footage of a seemingly authentic excursion to Northern China.
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