Cornell-educated Taro Seki returns to Japan just as the war party gains control. He hopes to work for American engineer O'Hara, and falls for his secretary Tama, but he is drafted. War service in China finally hardens Taro to atrocities, and he returns to Japan a changed man. His father, now a cabinet minister, feels remorse at what war has done to his son and country, but too late to save Taro's foreign friends. Written by
Rod Crawford <email@example.com>
We'd call it racist today, but this constantly amusing bit of rabble rousing did what it had to do at the time, while allowing somewhat refreshingly that not all Japanese were monsters. When this was made, the outcome of the war was still not assured, although the bombing raids over Tokyo were in full swing, as the end of the film shows. Along the way there's an incongruous mix of white RKO stock leads unconvincingly playing the main Japanese characters while actors of actual Japanese descent play minor supporting parts. J. Carrol Naish may seem silly as a Japanese businessman, but he is surprisingly sincere as the misguided father who goads his nonviolent, Americanized son with jingoistic pleas to enter military service. To the father's eventual dismay, the son, played by Tom Neal in one of Hollywood's more notable instances of miscasting, becomes an increasingly callous savage who comes to relish Japanese atrocities while on duty in China. Showing that Hollywood could do the Goebbels thing with the best of them, the film proceeds to show Japanese soldiers pushing opium on children, yanking mothers away from crying infants, hauling Chinese women into prostitution houses, bayoneting children, and--worst of all--slapping around American nationals! The highlight is a wacky, drawn-out duel of strength between an American boxer (Robert Ryan doing his "The Set Up" thing six years before the fact) and a Japanese jujitsu expert. The film's opening titles claim that the whole thing is 100 percent true and authentic, a perfect red flag to take it all with a grain of salt.
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