Featured Post

Featured Post - Mystery Movie Marathon

I thought I'd kick the new year off with another movie marathon. I thought it was time to check out a few old school mystery flicks. Som...

Tuesday, February 6, 2024

The Shanghai Cobra (1945)

Big surprise that I covered yet another Charlie Chan flick in this mystery movie marathon. But I do love these, and they fit the theme so what can I do? As always if you haven’t already read my thoughts on a white actor playing a Chinese character, please click this link. With that out of the way lets talk about The Shanghai Cobra. 

The movie kicks off with some folks lurking around a dark street in a rainstorm. Three of them, including Mr. Black, end up going into a diner to get a cup of coffee. The only woman in the group, Paula, is followed outside by Mr. Black who starts to talk to her before dropping dead on the street. When the police arrive they discover he is the most recent victim of the cobra killings. It seems that someone is using cobra venom to murder people and the police are stumped. Lucky for them they have access to Charlie Chan. Doubly so when he lets them know this is the same method used in a previous crime he investigated in Shanghai. The remainder of the movie is Chan interviewing suspects while protecting a valuable government resource kept in a nearby bank. When he figures out that all of the murder victims were connected to the bank, he starts to connect some dots. Eventually the murderer is exposed and all is well before the end credits roll. 

This might be one of the few later entries into the franchise that I really don’t like. I mean the movie isn’t horrible it is just that the tried and true formula isn’t followed successfully. The mystery is almost nonexistent as we know the mysterious killer is there for a bank heist. We even get to see the gang planning the robbery. So, the motives behind the murders are obvious. They try to give the story a last minute twist, but it is obvious that who we are supposed to think is the killer is in fact innocent. There isn’t much meat on the bone here if you are looking for a solid mystery to follow along with and try to solve. 

I’ve had this same observation with other Chan movies, but they normally can hang their hat on some fun comedy. Especially when Mantan Mooreland and Benson Fong are along for the ride. I was shocked at how little screentime is given to the pair in this one. When they are on screen it is just them creeping around in the dark, mostly in a sewer, with little to no gags. Moreland is normally always good for a few laughs but here none of his normal quips hit the mark. It almost feels like the director, Phil Karlson, didn’t know how to use the comedy. But then again, he did Dark Alibi which has some really good Mooreland moments in it. I was also shocked to see that he directed both Ben as well as Walking Tall towards the end of his career. Those are some good flicks! 

The Shanghai Cobra is at best mediocre with neither the mystery nor comedy elements working for me. I’d say this is for the completist only and should be skipped by casual fans. There are much better Chan movies to watch. 

© Copyright 2024 John Shatzer

No comments:

Post a Comment