China Gate (1957)
Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.
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as Sgt. Brock
as Lucky Legs
as Capt. Caumont
as Maj. Cham
as Cpl. Pigalle
as Pvt. Andreades
as Father Paul
as Col. De Sars
as The Boy
as Cpl. Kruger
as Pvt. Jaszi
as Moi Leader
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Critic Reviews for China Gate
Though not one of Samuel Fuller's best films, it's still worth seeing as an early Hollywood drama-actioner about Indo-China and for Angie Dickinson, who became a star a year later.
Both the overloaded heroic war drama and the heavy-handed romance narrative have an air of phoniness.
Audience Reviews for China Gate
In "China Gate," it is 1954. And with the French about to be unceremoniously kicked out of Vietnam once and for all, they intend to give the Communists one last explosion to remember them by. To do so, they want blow up an ammo dump. So, they recruit Lucky Legs(Angie Dickinson) who can get them through an enemy checkpoint. She wants her son to be sent to school in America in return. They agree, even if it is awkward to have Sgt. Brock(Gene Barry) commanding the mission, as he is the father of her child who had rejected him due to his Asian heritage. In any case, it is Goldie(Nat King Cole) who volunteers to carry the volatile triggers
Even in hindsight, it might seem tone deaf to dedicate a movie about Vietnam to France.(I wonder if Jean-Luc Godard ever saw this one.) But due to Samuel Fuller's film making prowess that owes somewhat to journalism, sensitive yet hard boiled, his film "China Gate" does not end up being the unintentional laugh riot that John Wayne's "The Green Berets" turned out to be. Overall, "China Gate" is a fairly entertaining action movie with a couple of neat touches. For example, not only does Fuller call out the lead character for his racism but also makes a provocative move in 1957 with a soldier who is black, highly competent, brave, resilient and well-armed.
This movie was the first movie about the war in Vietnam. The story is set in the last few months before the French were defeated in North Vietnam. Angie Dickinson plays a half Chinese half European woman. She has a son with Gene Berry who looks Chinese. Gene Berry plays an American in the French Foreign Legion. He is a Korean War veteran who has come to Vietnam to continue killing Communists. He hates Asians and can't deal with the fact that his five year old son looks Asian. The movie doesn't explain why he was in Vietnam five years earlier and married Angie Dickinson. He was supposed to have been in the U.S. Army then. They lead a team of Legionnaires into Communist territory to blow up a stash of Russian bombs. Lee Van Cleef plays a North Vietnamese Major who looks more Russian than Vietnamese and his goal is to be transferred to Moscow. In the group of Legionnaires is a Hungarian who dreams that Nat King Cole is a Russian soldier. He's a refugee from the Hungarian revolt against the Communist. The whole theme of the movie is that Vietnam was being invaded by Russian and Chinese Communists. The French were portrayed as good guys who were just trying to spread Christianity to the Vietnamese. They never mentioned that France invaded Indochina in the 19th Century to expand the French Colonial Empire about the same time they invaded Mexico and were supplying arms to the Confederates. France was our enemy then. France lost Indochina to the Japanese during World War II without firing a shot. It was the Americans that helped Ho Chi Min fight the Japanese and promised to help the Vietnamese gain their independence. The only reason the U.S. helped France try to take back Vietnam was because we needed to keep the Communists from taking over France and it turned out that Ho Chi Min was one of Stalin's followers. To the American people who lived through both the Korean War and the War in Vietnam it was all one war. That was the theme of this movie. The Vietnam War was just a continuation of the Korean War.
not top shelf Fuller, but it's got Nat King Cole and Lee Van Cleef, plus Angie Dickinson as "Lucky Legs" (half chinese, of course).
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