Shadow of Chinatown - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Shadow of Chinatown Reviews

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April 18, 2016
Bela Lugosi is one of my favourites of the first stage of horror presences (not including silent cinema), but compared to his contemporaries (Boris Karloff, Vincent Price and Lon Chaney Jr.), he had more than his share of turkeys. The atmospheric, Hungarian-born, quite charismatic actor starred in one of them here, in this 'Charlie Chan'-knockoff serial. I tend to love them, but this is a minor, 70-minute editing of the 15-episode, 281-minute edition. It has decent supporting players, in Joan Barclay and Bruce Bennett, a woman trying to become an exciting news reporter, rather than simply the newspaper's society column editor, and her boss, respectively, who end up, predictably enough, romantically entangled as they try to discover what and who's behind raids threatening competitor merchants in San Francisco's Chinatown from the business interests of Lugosi's employer, the gorgeous Dragon Lady (Luana Walters). Lugosi gives your money's worth as the despicable and ruthless villain.

My copy came from my legendary Mill Creek 50-pack 'Nightmare Worlds', and if you enjoy serials, Lugosi or 30's detective films such as the 'Charlie Chan' series, it's a decent poor-boy's version and worth a watch. I would prefer to see the full version, but that's just me. If you're just marginally interested in them or prefer Lugosi in his more horrific fare, this may prove boring for you, and I would suggest that instead, you stick to his better-known projects with more money behind them and better directors--they offer you much more meat to sink your *ahem* teeth into.
½ June 20, 2015
Bela is the only reason to catch this one
February 18, 2014
Lugosi Hits the Wong Note--Absolutely Cranky!!
May 19, 2013
Relies a little too much on Lugosi and is weak on plot and characters, but it has some good attributes and elements. It's a decent crime story that doesn't drag on too long. Nothing too memorable, but still. it's not awful.
October 26, 2012
pretty good. not one of bela lugosi's best films.
bbcfloridabound
Super Reviewer
½ January 18, 2012
A Bela Lugosi Film, as I watched this movie I thought that this must have been early in Bela's carrer, but come to find out I was wrong, even thought it was 1936 he had already made 67 other movies, WOW and Thats a big WOW. But I should have know because in this movie he give's people those Dracula eyes and puts people under his spell, I remember seeing those eyes in the different horror movies late saturday night on Creature Feature when I was growing up. Also About 1/3 into this movie I thought this must have been a serial at one time and sure enought they took a 15 Chapter 300 Minute Serial and condensed it down into 71 Minutes, so at times movie jumps from one place to another leaving you to say what the heck. My copy came from the Mill Creek 50 Movie pack Nightmare Works and the audio was very hard to understand, I am not sure if its because it was mono on my surround sound system or if its just like that. There are many different compines putting this one on the market as I think it is like freeware. Just gotta know that no one has had the eyes of Bela, and I will always remember him playing with Abbot and Costelllo, a great movie. Hard to give anything over 2 1/2 stars as its such a early film.
½ October 12, 2010
not for short attention spans
½ July 7, 2008
Low budget, and it shows it's age more than most films from the time. The castis good but the acting is uneven. I found it watchable, it's short length kept it from being too slow moving.
November 26, 2006
The Shadow of Chinatown
Starring: Herman Brix, Joan Barclay, Luana Walters, Maurice Lui, and Bela Lugosi
Director: Robert F. Hill


A pair of self-loathing "eurasians" (Walters and Lugosi) team up to use their business savaay and scientific know-how to enrich themselves and take their revenge on both the White and Oritental peoples. But they haven't counted on interference from a San Francisco society page reporter wanting to graduate to investigative reporting (Barclay), her Chinese culture-loving private detective friend (Brix), nor the assortment of superflous secondary characters and bumbling henchmen.

"The Shadow of Chinatown" that I watched is the feature-film version, which is a condensing of a 15-part serial. That explains for some of the disjointedness of the story, but it doesn't account for the atrociously wooden acting on the part of the actors--except Luana Walters, the only performer who gives a decent accounting of herself--the erratic and contradictory abilities and powers of Lugosi's character, and the lame, anti-climax of the movie's end.

This 70-minute version was so dull I almost didn't make it to end. It starts out strong enough with Walters and Lugosi's minions fanning out through Chinatown and terrorizing business patrons while disguised as Chinese gangsters, and providing Barclay's character an opportunity to get captured by the villains and then escape... but then it starts to sink into a mess of bad acting and even worse plotting. Walters remains a bright spot throughout, but she's really the only thing worth watching here.
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