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The Chinese Ring More at IMDbPro »

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7 out of 7 people found the following review useful:

"A murder in the house of Charlie Chan, now I've seen everything."

Author: classicsoncall from Florida, New York
10 October 2004

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

"The Chinese Ring" is a passable entry in the Monogram series of Charlie Chan films, notable for Roland Winters' first time portrayal of the Oriental Detective. In a strange departure from the usual strong continuity between films, Victor Sen Yung is presented as Number #2 Son named Tommy; he was Jimmy in all of his prior Chan films with Sidney Toler. Number #3 son Tommy was portrayed in earlier movies by Benson Fong. Mantan Moreland is on hand as Birmingham Brown.

The intrigue involves the murder of Chinese Princess Mei Ling (Barbara Jean Wong) and her servant; the ring she uses to introduce herself to Charlie Chan is inscribed in Chinese - "Long life and happiness". Stunned by a poisonous dart, she manages to write the name of "Capt K" on a scrap of paper in Chan's study. The clue leads Chan and Sergeant Bill Davidson (Warren Douglas) of the San Francisco PD in two directions. Captain Kong of the S.S. Shanghai Maid brought the princess to this country, while Captain James Kelso is the owner of the Kelso Aviation Company. Both are in league with banker Armstrong, eventually revealed as the mastermind of a plot to sell, but not deliver airplanes to Mei Ling's brother, a field marshal for the Chinese Army.

This is a reasonably paced entry in the Chan series, particularly for Winters' first turn as the Oriental Detective. Louise Currie provides great support as reporter Peggy Cartwright, although she's embarrassingly pushed around by romantic interest Sergeant Davidson. The mystery is a lot easier to follow than prior Chan films, many of which had up to dozen characters to keep track of; here it's all wrapped up pretty neatly by film's end.

***Added on 11/12/08 - Monogram Pictures originally made this film in 1939 as "Mr. Wong in Chinatown", with Boris Karloff in the role of the title detective. In that story, the 'Captain K' clue differed by one letter - 'Captain J'. Otherwise, it's pretty much the same story, even including a variation of my summary line above, citing a 'murder in the house of Mr. Wong'!

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5 out of 6 people found the following review useful:

Okay entry in deteriorating Chan series.

Author: Steve Brown from Blacksburg, VA
8 June 1999

Okay entry for Winters in his debut as Chan, following Sidney Toler's death. Plot is almost line-for-line copy of MR WONG IN CHINATOWN. Byron Foulger nearly steals show as nervous banker, and Louise Currie is gorgeous, but material and pedestrian direction sink production. Watchable, but the nap monster will probably get you.

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6 out of 9 people found the following review useful:

OK Chan

Author: jonfrum2000 from United States
25 August 2010

As Chans go, not the best, but the story itself is fine. Roland Winters is a perfectly good Chan - the role was defined by the time this episode in the series was made, so he basically just had to show up and recite the lines to get the job done. Although Victor Sen Young shows up as Tommy, he plays a very small part in the film - a good thing in my opinion. Birmingham Brown is present as comic relief, but doesn't shine in this one. Sargent Bill Davidson and plucky girl reporter Peggy Cartwright play the clichéd role of battling couple with unfortunate results. After the third or fourth exclamation of "Bill Davidson!" by our intrepid girl reporter, I was ready to strangle her. By the sixth or seventh time, I was ready to strangle myself. You'd think the writers were paid to keep the word count down. Worse, while the two argue in Davidson's office, he grabs her and shakes her in a rage, nearly knocking her off her feet. Of course, that's what men do to women they love, right? Don't worry, it all ends up in a kiss. Good God.

That's what you have to deal with when watching sixty year old movies - sometimes there's a real culture shock.

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3 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

The show must go on - and so must Charlie Chan

Author: binapiraeus from Greece
27 March 2014

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

So this is the first Charlie Chan movie after Sidney Toler's death (if you've watched all the Charlie Chan films in chronological order, you can REALLY feel the grief the series' fans felt back then when that great actor whom they'd seen in so many wonderful adventures as the Chinese detective had passed away)- but the show must go on; and we mustn't be in ANY way prejudiced against Roland Winters, who took over the role. In fact, even from his first appearance, he won our hearts with his REALLY good attempts to make a good, new Charlie Chan. He wasn't copying Sidney Toler; he was just the humble, polite, sometimes tough, sometimes humorous Chinese master detective he was supposed to be.

Perhaps in order to give a 'new' appearance to the 'old' cast that had worked with Toler for years, Sen Yung, Charlie's former 'number two son' Jimmy, now becomes 'number three son' Tommy, and 'Birmingham' Mantan Moreland is now acting not only as chauffeur, but also as butler. And the movie begins right in Charlie's own home: a mysterious Chinese lady comes to visit him; she doesn't give any name, she just hands a ring over to Birmingham to give to Charlie. And when Charlie sees it, he understands immediately from the inscription that the lady must be something like a princess - only, in the meantime, she's shot next door from outside the window by a poisoned dart from a noiseless air rifle; the last thing she manages to do is to write on a piece of paper: 'Captain K'...

And very soon we get to know TWO 'Captain Ks': one is Captain Kong, governor of the cargo ship 'Shanghai Maid', which allegedly ships valuable goods to China (but as we find out, they're airplanes intended for princess Mei Ling's brother, a Field Marshall), and the other one's Captain Kelso, manager of the aviation company that builds the planes for Mei Ling. We also learn from Armstrong, the director of the bank through which Mei Ling had made her transactions, that on her arrival, she'd put a million dollars on her account, and the money had slowly been withdrawn by Kelso...

Then Mei Ling's maid is killed, too, in the same way as her mistress, and a little Chinese boy whom the princess had befriended disappears - and all the time, Charlie is being assisted not only by Sgt. Davidson, but also by cheeky reporter Peggy Cartwright (Louise Curry), Davidson's girlfriend (during the few moments they're not quarreling...) - a fabulous specimen of that so popular character of the nosy, snippy 40s girl reporter! Charlie visits Armstrong, who denies knowing anything; and incidentally, we learn that he's preparing a grave for one of his big watchdogs... But then, the two 'Captain Ks' force their way into Armstrong's house, presenting him with the fact that the princess' signature on the checks was forged, and asking them what became of the money; and they drag Armstrong and Charlie on board the 'Shanghai Maid' - but both Davidson and Peggy and Birmingham and Tommy are on their trail, and so we can prepare for a big clash as the final highlight!

As we said before, Roland Winters REALLY does his best to do justice to the heavy burden of his first portrayal of Charlie Chan; and the movie itself is in NO way of a lesser quality than the previous ones - in fact, in style it moves away somewhat from the hilarious comedy and returns to the 'Noir' style of the first Monogram Charlie Chans: hard-boiled characters, bleak, dark settings, and a PRETTY tough, not to say at some points cruel plot. But there's always room for some comedy, at which the first and best is this time the reporter girl - but also Roland Winters, the new Charlie Chan, displays some wise humor with a mild smile; so he DOES find a place in the fans' hearts right from the beginning...

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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

stylish whodunit

Author: Cristi_Ciopron from CGSM, Soseaua Nationala 49
12 May 2016

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

This remake is very good, much better than the 1st movie; it has Winters, Moreland, Louise Currie, Ahn, W. Douglas, and it's directed by Beaudine. It's a regular whodunit. It also has the good look of many others made in the 2nd half of the '40s.

Louise Currie and W. Douglas are better than their precursors in these roles, but by the late '40s the roughness of her treating by the disrespectful sergeant had already become indigestible; she punches him, yet it doesn't become her, as the coarseness doesn't become the mild sergeant.

Ahn and Roberts are the two Ks.

Barbara Jean Wong has a bit part as the princess.

The dumb dwarf from the 1st movie is replaced by a dumb boy, which enhances the drama.

Winters is great in the scene of the denouement. He certainly enjoyed the role. This was his 1st time as Chan, he doesn't overplay his part, and has a dependable idea of the character, the player isn't as much cautious, as assured and confident.

This whodunit is one of the director's best.

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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

Maybe They Should Close Their Windows

Author: Hitchcoc from United States
22 January 2016

Blow darts and air rifles seem to abound in the Charlie Chan series. It seems that those most vulnerable are not protected very well. So often, someone dies with a cop standing guard outside the door. People are able to shoot through windows or off balconies without any trouble. They then escape without a trace. Even if they are caught, the person lies dead. In this one, a Chinese princess has come to see Charlie with what appears to be important information. Birmingham goes to get Charlie and while they are putzing around, the unfortunate lady gets shot with a dart. It turns out that there is some big money involved with airplane contracts. A Chinese ship and some banking mishaps are at the center. Enter another of those dull 1940's policemen and an overly aggressive female beat reporter who has the hots for him and Chan is left having to handle the situation. As usual, Mantan Moreland and Tommy Chan get in the way for the most part. Roland Winters has replaced the late Sidney Toler and doesn't seem to have any chemistry with the secondary characters. Several people die as a result of carelessness. One thing I have noted before is the general insensitivity of Charlie and the gang. But then it's not Shakespeare.

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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

Not a bad movie

Author: Panamint from United States
18 April 2015

I cannot say that "The Chinese Ring" is a bad mystery movie, because it isn't. The production values are good enough, especially considering the studio that made it. Although the story and some of the dialog is literally a remake of an older Monogram "Mr. Wong" film, the producers seem to be trying to put forth a dignified continuation of the established Chan series; I do not believe that this is a "take the money and run" fast-buck ripoff (like say Jaws 4,5, 9 etc). It is a legit effort and William Beaudine was probably as fine and established a director as Monogram could afford to hire.

Roland Winters was a good actor who had a long and distinguished career. He was the studio's choice to continue the Chan character and probably wasn't the best choice but I guess he is adequate. Winters seems tentative here but has the thankless task of following up his two beloved and deceased predecessors in the ongoing role of Charlie Chan. His acting approach here is too careful and very deliberate but doesn't lack skill, and he manages to avoid what could have been career suicide. He does become a little more forceful and lively in his subsequent Chan films.

Moreland and Sen Yung are capable in support and manage to avoid the outright buffoonery that was required of them in previous Chan outings. Phillip Ahn is a very recognizable actor in a villain role. He does a good job and he is another example of the studio's commitment to the Chan project, since they could have used a much cheaper unknown actor if so inclined.

This is an OK mystery story (after all, its a tried-and-true story from a good prior film). It works as a mystery and moves along at a brisk enough clip for the most part. Overall not a great film, but not a bad one.

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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

A Princess dies in Charlie Chan's den.

Author: Michael O'Keefe from Muskogee OK
5 July 2011

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Princess Mei Ling(Jean Wong)goes to the San Francisco apartment of Charlie Chan(Roland Winters). After she is led to the den by manservant Birmingham(Mantan Moreland), she is murdered via poison dart gun. She manages to leave a written clue on a note pad that leads to Captain Kong(Philip Ahn), whom she has made a million American dollar deal to ship airplanes to Chinese freedom fighters. But Kong is not the only Captain K involved in this deal. However, who would be better off that the princess is dead? Chan is aided by police Sergeant Davidson(Warren Douglas)in spite of the pest of a newspaper reporter Peggy Carpenter(Louise Currie), who wants the exclusive story of the murder of the princess. Not real fond of Winters playing the lead role. He is the palest Chinese/Hawaiian detective Chan ever. Also in the cast: Byron Foulger, Thayer Roberts and Cha Bing. And not understandable to Chan fans is that Victor Sen Young in this flick has changed his name from Jimmy to Tommy(who used to be #3 Son played by Benson Fong). Change is not easy to accept. But a Charlie Chan mystery seems always to be worthwhile.

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Acceptable but uninspired

Author: gridoon2017
20 April 2017

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Roland Winters makes an unenthusiastic debut as the inscrutable Chinese detective in this acceptable but uninspired Charlie Chan outing. It begins fairly well, with the murder happening almost immediately and inside Chan's apartment no less, and has a good if typically out-of-the-blue twist at the end, but the rest is business as usual. Number Two Son's role is significantly reduced in this, in favor of a Torchy Blane-like female reporter and her detective boyfriend (who, in true 1947 fashion, even cuffs her to a chair at one point to keep her out of his way). ** out of 4.

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1 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

Fleecing the princess

Author: bkoganbing from Buffalo, New York
5 October 2012

During all the time I was watching The Chinese Ring I kept thinking I saw it before and then I learn that this was indeed the plot of an old Mr. Wong film also put out by Monogram. As the Wong series was before World War II started in Europe only the politics were changed and they got a little vague in this one.

Barbara Jean Wong, a Chinese princess who is in America to purchase war airplanes for what I presume is the Kuomintang air force against the Communists is shot and killed by a dart fired from an air rifle almost immediately after entering Charlie Chan's home. With a murder right in his own home Roland Winters in his first film as Charlie Chan is kind of forced to help the authorities who in this case are represented by homicide detective Warren Douglas. Tagging along is Louise Currie who is a reporter looking to scoop her rivals on who killed the princess.

The Occidentals who the princess had to deal with are one scurvy lot who saw a cash cow and were milking it for all it was worth. But one of them is scurvier than the rest that one murders the princes, her maid and a small mute Chinese boy who's only crime was that he was a witness.

The story did not translate that good to a post World War II political situation. Still the players do their best with it and Roland Winters slips nicely into the tradition of Warner Oland and Sidney Toler as our fortune cookie aphorism speaking Charlie Chan.

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