Monday, June 3, 2013

Movie of the Week: Phantom of Chinatown (Review)

I hope you all have watched (or plan to watch) the featured movie of this past week, 1940's Phantom of Chinatown starring Keye Luke, Grant Withers, and Lotus Long.


In the middle of a pictorial lecture on his recent expedition to the Mongolian Desert, Dr. John Benton the famous explorer, drinks from the water bottle on his lecture table, collapses and dies. His last words "Eternal Fire" are the only clue Chinese detective Jimmy Wong and Captain Street of the police department have to work on. Win Lee, Benton's secretary, reveals the doctor's dying words refer to a scroll which tells the location of rich oil deposits. Wong and Street then begin the search for the killer among Benton's associates. [IMDb]


I actually don't have much to say about Phantom of Chinatown. I don't think it would be necessary to watch the previous "Detective Wong" films to understand this particular movie, but if you'd like to know more about the relationship between Detective Wong and Captain Street (as I would), it probably would be a good idea to watch them.

Signed publicity shot of Keye Luke

Phantom of Chinatown doesn't really stand out alongside other classic detective movies, but it was still quite a joy to watch--it was especially refreshing to see so many Asian and Asian-American performers playing non-stereotypical roles in a Classic Hollywood film. 

Lotus Long in Phantom of Chinatown

Keye Luke was one of Hollywood's most naturally talented actors--and that natural talent exudes from him as he leads this movie. Grant Withers squeezes perfectly into his role as the tough "Captain Street", a role he'd played five times before, and Lotus Long plays the mysterious "Win Len" with a cool, calm, and sophisticated demeanor--very much similar to Keye Luke's acting style. 

(L to R) Grant Withers, Keye Luke, and Lotus Long in Phantom of Chinatown

This movie's cast was a pretty good one, basically, but other than a distinct aspect of its casting, it doesn't really stand out alongside other classic detective movies (as stated before). I wouldn't say that it was highly predictable, but there simply weren't enough twists and turns to keep you on the edge of your seat. However, it was entertaining enough to make you sit back enjoy the ride. 

With that said, I do recommend that you watch Phantom of Chinatown; and you can do so by clicking this Youtube link.

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