Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

DAUGHTER OF THE DRAGON


DAUGHTER OF THE DRAGON (1931). Director: Lloyd Corrigan.

In the early 1930's Paramount Pictures released a trio of films very loosely based on the first three novels in Sax Rohmer's fascinating series of Fu Manchu books. The third and final film in the series, Daughter of the Dragon, is supposedly based on The Daughter of Fu Manchu, Rohmer's third Fu Manchu book, but it has an entirely different storyline. In this movie Princess Ling Moy (Anna May Wong) is a dancer who has no idea that she is the daughter of Fu Manchu. Fu Manchu (an excellent Warner Oland), whose origin is entirely different from Rohmer's, has spent the first two movies trying to wipe out the Petrie family, whom he holds in part responsible for the deaths of his wife and other children (Ling Moy was raised by another family). After killing John Petrie (Holmes Herbert), a dying Fu tells his daughter who she is and of the blood oath which she must fulfill: to kill the final member of the Petrie family, Ronald Petrie (Bramwell Fletcher). Ling Moy agrees to do this but winds up falling in love with Ronald instead. In a rather abrupt character reversal, she decides to go ahead and fulfill the oath and turns quite sadistic to boot. Balancing the evil Asians in the movie is Ah Kee, a policeman played by Sessue Hayakawa. Daughter of the Dragon is slowly-paced and has a rather boring middle section, although there's some excitement at the climax (which has a moving wind-up). The chief feeling you take away from the movie is that both Wong and Hayakawa are excellent actors who deserved much better material. Still, it has its moments. Good performances from the rest of the cast. As far as Fu Manchu goes, he has more fun in the unrelated The Mask of Fu Manchu the following year.

Verdict: Wong and Hayakawa make a great team. **1/2.

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