|THE HATCHET MAN (director: William Wellman; screenwriters: J. Grubb Alexander/play by Achmed Abdullah and David Belasco; cinematographer: Sid Hickox; editor: Owen Marks; music: Bernhard Kaun; cast: Edward G. Robinson (Wong Low Get), Loretta Young (Sun Toya San), Dudley Digges (Nog Hong Fah), Leslie Fenton (Harry En Hai), Edmund Breese (Yu Chang), Tully Marshall (Long Sen Yat), J. Carrol Naish (Sun Yat Ming), Blanche Frederici (Madame Si-Si), Eveyln Selbie (Wah Li ), Willie Fung (The notary, Fung Loo); Runtime: 74; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: ; First National Pictures; 1932)|
|"White actors playing Chinese
characters, who are about as convincing as a
fortune cookie reading."
by Dennis Schwartz
actors playing Chinese characters, who are about as
convincing as a fortune cookie reading. It's a
gangster film about the Tong war, set in San
Francisco's Chinatown, in the early part of
the twentieth century. Action director William
Wellman ("A Star is Born"/"The Public Enemy"/"Beau Geste")
raises questions about how far can friendship go if
pushed to the extreme. Wong Low Get (Edward
G. Robinson), a businessman belonging to the
ruthless Lem Sing Tong, kills
Sun Yat Ming (J.
Carrol Naish), his childhood friend, on orders
from his Tong gang, and then meets his obligation to
raise the victim's six-year-old daughter Toya. When
a grown woman she's played by Loretta
Young, who looks about as much Chinese as do
Robinson and Naish.
follows is the well-connected Robinson becomes
wealthy and following the stipulations in the will
of the man he executed, marries Toya when she
reaches legal age. When Robinson learns from Young
that she loves one of his bodyguards, Harry En Hai (Leslie
Fenton), someone she met briefly at a dance
hall, for the sake of her happiness he lets her
marry him and live with him in China. Unfortunately
the Tong don't share the same liberal attitude and
as a result Robinson is ostracized by them and
starts losing his power and his business goes under.
Later Robinson learns Toya is not such a good judge
of character, as Harry sold her as a prisoner to an
opium den and her life is a living hell. Well,
Robinson goes to China to free her and to restore
his marriage to her.
based on the play by Achmed Abdullah and
David Belasco, and is written by J.
I was never convinced Robinson was a Chinese gangster, that the film had much merit or credibility, and felt too much meaningful drama was missing. Otherwise it's a hoot seeing Robinson as a Chinese gangster rather than as the Italian Little Caesar.
REVIEWED ON 9/29/2014 GRADE: C+
Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"
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