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In Tokyo, a ruthless gang starts holding up U.S. ammunition trains, prepared to kill any of their own members wounded during a robbery. Down-at-heal ex-serviceman Eddie Spannier arrives from the States, apparently at the invitation of one such unfortunate. But Eddie isn't quite what he seems as he manages to make contact with Sandy Dawson, who is obviously running some sort of big operation, and his plan is helped by acquaintance with Mariko, the secret Japanese wife of the dead American. Written by
Jeremy Perkins <email@example.com>
According to Samuel Fuller, originally, Gary Cooper was to play the role of Eddie Spanier. But because he was too well known in Japan he could not act incognito among passers-by without being recognized so Robert Stack, a less popular actor at the time, was chosen instead. However, according to STEP BY STEP sheet by script writer Harry Kleiner written in November 1954, the names of Robert Stack and Victor Mature were listed. See more »
When Eddie Spanier (Robert Stack) is first knocked unconscious by members of Sandy Dawson's gang, Dawson tells one of his underlings to awaken him by tossing a bucket of ice on him. As he lies on the floor, however, Eddie flinches as soon as Dawson gives this command, before any ice actually hits Eddie's face. See more »
It is 1954 in Tokyo and American soldiers and local forces are working together to protect shipments of ammunition moving around the country. Whenever a group of men rob one such shipment and kill one of the US guards, the US army get involved in the investigation along with the local police. The trail is cold until a different turns sour and an injured criminal is finished off by his own gang using the same gun that killed the US guard. The man dies of course and turns out to be a former US GI; days later the dead man's friend (Eddie Spanier) turns up in Tokyo and, finding his friend dead and no hope of work turns to the protection racket, bringing him to the attention of the same gang his friend was in a gang run by former US soldier Sandy Dawson. Eddie gets into the gang thanks to his criminal record a record falsified by the army in order to get him on the inside and take the gang down.
The daytime cable stations are littered with crime b-movies from the 1950's etc and they all pretty much try to stay to the same formula, what made me sit to watch this one though was the presence of Sam Fuller in the director's chair. The plot here is a typical crime thriller regardless of the Oriental setting and we have a man infiltrating a tough gang to bring it down. As a story it kinda goes where you expect it to and has some elements that don't really work but overall it is tough and gritty enough to entertain for the most part. The Oriental setting appears to be only a novelty and it isn't used to any great effect, with only Japanese stereotypes making it onto the screen and no real sense of place this could have been Chicago for all the difference the location makes to the story. The script makes up for this though by throwing in plenty of tough dialogue for the cast to work with and it is impressive in a typical b-movie fashion; meanwhile Fuller does frame a good shot and add a tense edge to the telling, even if he doesn't use his Japanese cast that well.
Stack and Ryan were another big draw to me; maybe not known as the best actors in the world but they can do gritty well enough for this film to work. Stack is good value as he does suggest angry layers to his character even if we are not allowed to see them certainly some sense of "justice" seems to drive him to take such risks for little pay and his demeanour backs this up. Ryan is much more relaxed and he suits the gang leader role, nicely cracking a bit towards the end. Using Yamaguchi seemed a bold move but really she is as American as you could get without using a white actress in gap jeans; her character is a little interesting but is ignored in favour of the tougher male dynamics within the film. The support cast are OK and buoy up the tough aspect of the film but really it is Stack and Ryan who own the film and it is best when they share tough scenes together.
Overall this is a standard b-movie that is worth seeing on that level while also having enough else going for it to make it an enjoyable film. Fuller's direction may not make great use of his exotic location but he still directs well whether it be tough talk on sound stages or the brutal shoot out on the fairground, high above the Tokyo streets. Stack and Ryan play off each other well and the dialogue is tough and crisp, making it an enjoyable piece of b-movie entertainment.
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