The Video Vacuum (thevideovacuum) wrote,
The Video Vacuum
thevideovacuum

DAUGHTER OF THE TONG (1939) * ½

A hood (Dave O’Brien) is marked for death for threatening to blow the whistle on a crime ring ran by a devious Dragon Lady named Carney (Evelyn Brent).  A federal agent (Grant Withers) gets wind of this and goes undercover as a lowlife to infiltrate the gang and rescue him.  Carney is crafty though and captures the agent and is about two seconds away from giving him an “Oriental Manicure” before the Feds bust down the door and arrest her.

 

Daughter of the Tong runs a scant 53 minutes.  If you don’t count the credits, the long-winded opening crawl telling us all about how great the FBI is, and all the excessive stock footage of telephone operators and newspaper printers, the running time’s actually closer to 45.  That’s still too long in my book.

 

I’m up for any Poverty Row gangster movie but even I have my limits.  No matter how brief the movie is, it’s still chockfull of useless padding and has far too many lulls in between the action.  As lame as most of the stiffly choreographed fistfights and half-assed brawls were, I must admit the final car chase is actually decent for the time.  It was all done live and doesn’t rely on any of that rear screen projection nonsense you’d usually see from a cheapie like this one.  That scene alone is worth the extra Half Star.

 

The familiar faces of Grant (the Mr. Wong series) Withers and Dave (Reefer Madness) O’Brien help somewhat.  They can only do but so much when the rest of the supporting cast are thoroughly dreadful.  To top it all off, Brent is about as Asian looking as Benny Hill.  At least in the Charlie Chan movies the filmmakers made SOME attempt to make their Oriental characters actually look like Orientals.  No such luck here.

Tags: d, thriller
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