Lt. Dan Oliver, an American soldier in Korea, agrees to deliver a jade dragon statuette to a curio shop in Los Angeles. Soon after his arrival, he is murdered. Phil Ramsey and Ginny ...
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Lt. Dan Oliver, an American soldier in Korea, agrees to deliver a jade dragon statuette to a curio shop in Los Angeles. Soon after his arrival, he is murdered. Phil Ramsey and Ginny O'Donnell trace the murder to the shop of Professor Kim Ho. Ramsey receives a package mailed to him by Oliver from Honolulu that contains the jade dragon, and takes it to the curio shop to force a showdown with Kim Ho. He is attacked by Ho's hoods and is about to be killed when Ginny arrives with Police Lt. McLaughton and the police. Written by
Les Adams <email@example.com>
This second feature from ''Quickie King'' Robert Lippert is fairly amusing, in it's (very)unambitious way. When ''Hero''Richard Travis' Army Sergeant pal is murdered shortly after he returns from the Orient, He and his lab technician girlfriend (Sheila Ryan) find themselves in the middle of the investigation. This leads them to a group of smugglers, working out of a Chinatown curio shop in downtown Los Angeles. Not to mention an almost completely beside the point interlude at a local TV station. Here, what there is of the story grinds to a halt while a Singing Cowboy act is shoehorned in to perform two unnecessary (and unwelcome) musical numbers, and character actor Sid Melton tries out what looks like a weak comedy act on an adjoining stage. He's accompanied by one of the worst no-name ''Actresses'' ever seen on film. (And, naturally, this one was never seen again.)
Luckily, the story (eventually) resumes. Director Sam Neufeld obviously had no idea how to handle the TV station segment, so it plays like an ''Amatuer Hour'' contest. The rest is strictly point the camera and shoot. And the stock footage used sticks out like a sore thumb. Although the supporting cast boasts a few vaguely familiar faces, the most prominent is prolific character actor Melton, who made 18 films for Lippert. He's playing a small-time crook in league with the smugglers, who, for no discernible reason, dresses up (unconvincingly) as an Oriental from time to time, and stands in front of the curio shop shop spouting Pidgin English. Most of the Oriental characters are played by occidental actors (par for the course in those days) with accents so thick it's hard to understand them-all except for Melton, who speaks with an unmistakable Brooklyn inflection.One of the few authentic Orientals is a burly wrestler billed as ''The Great Mr. Moto'' (whoever that is) whose main function is to playfully push partner in crime Melton around. ''Mask Of The Dragon'' like Lippert's other epics, was made simply to draw a fast buck and fill the bottom half of a double bill. Even at that, this one is about rock-bottom in terms of production values.(It wasn't called a ''Spartan Production'' for nothing.) The commentator on the very good-looking DVD (from VCI ENTERTAINMENT) does go on (and on) about the quality of the ''sets'', though they look like actual shops, offices, apartments, etc.It's hardly likely they were built for this film alone. The rest is mostly scene after scene of talk, with occasional bouts of comic violence.If that doesn't grab you, almost all of the background score is played on an Organ (!).This unique addition, for better or worse, reminds one of the old soap opera's from the Golden Days Of Radio, where each (hopefully) shocking incident was punctuated with a blast of the old Wurlitzer. Here, it makes an already pretty silly movie that much funnier. Though it clocks in at under an hour, it still feels padded, thanks to the singing cowboys and listless jokes that hit the ground like rocks. This was obviously an attempt to stretch the running time to the length of a feature, but it failed miserably. In fact, a few years later, the film was cut to 25 minutes and shown that way on TV. And, probably, all the useless bits filmed on the fictional TV show were eliminated, along with the songs. Still, Travis and Ryan are a fairly engaging pair of Heroes (Spunky Ms. Ryan would have made a lovely Lois Lane) and Melton, believe it or not, is occasionally amusing in an idiotic sort of way. He went on to greater fame as ''Alf Monroe'' on the comedy series ''Green Acres''.Strangely enough, he's not the only one here with a ''Green Acres'' connection. Leading Lady Ryan eventually married Pat Buttram,who played''Mr. Haney'' on the same show. Once again, the gaudy, colorful posters created for this film , promise much more than it ever delivers. Still, though ''Mask Of The Dragon'' is no classic, Lippert and Neufeld have done worse.See ''Fingerprints Don't Lie'' (filmed-back to back with this one featuring most of the same cast) for proof of that.
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