G-Men vs. the Black Dragon was the first of two serials released in 1943 starring Rod Cameron as Government Agent Rex Bennett. Loaded with action, it is one of the best of Republic's serials. There's at least two knock down drag out fights in every chapter, enhanced by Cameron's athletic prowess, which allowed him to be clearly a part of the fisticuffs (although he is clearly doubled in the more difficult stunts).
The story, set during WWII, involves the evil Japanese price Haruchi (Nino Pipitone) and his secret organization The Black Dragon, trying to sabotage American War efforts while planning an invasion of the U.S. Aided by his two henchmen Rango (Noel Cravat) and Lugo (George J. Lewis), The Black Dragon attempts to steal secret plans, blow up strategic installations and the like only to be thwarted at every turn by Bennett and his two assistants (Constance Worth, Roland Got).
All of the serial cliches are here, the exploding bridge, cars/trucks going over the cliff, warehouses blowing up, narrow last minute escapes etc. The stuntwork is excellent as always and the special effects created by the Lydecker Brothers are amazing for their time. Director William Witney keeps the action flowing and the fights a coming.
Cameron (before going on to bigger and better things) is excellent as Rex Bennett, who just can't seem to stay away from fist fights. Pipitone, Cravat, and Lewis add admirably to Republic's gallery of hissable serial villains. The only weakness in the cast are the wooden performances of Worth and Got as Bennett's assistants.
Still and all, G-Men vs. The Black Dragon represents one of the best examples of the lost art of Saturday matinee serials and should not be missed.
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