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Phantom of Chinatown

Released Nov 18, 1940 1h 1m Mystery & Thriller List
80% Tomatometer 5 Reviews 46% Audience Score 100+ Ratings San Francisco's Mr. Wong (Keye Luke) sleuths with the secretary (Lotus Long) of a poisoned archaeologist. Read More Read Less

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Phantom of Chinatown

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Critics Reviews

View All (5) Critics Reviews
Roy Chartier Variety [Keye Luke] pictures well, is along suave lines, and has a clear, incisive voice. Apr 25, 2023 Full Review P.S. Harrison Harrison's Reports Moderately entertaining. Apr 25, 2023 Full Review Boxoffice Staff Boxoffice Magazine The story is definitely above average -- a murder mystery, of course -- and brimming over with action and suspense. Apr 25, 2023 Full Review Dennis Schwartz Dennis Schwartz Movie Reviews Typical story in the series. Rated: B- Apr 25, 2023 Full Review TV Guide Staff TV Guide Aside from the revolutionary racial casting, there's not much else to note about this routine murder mystery. Jun 11, 2008 Full Review Read all reviews

Audience Reviews

View All (7) audience reviews
christopher c. m The first two was Whitewashed with Boris Karloff, I'm thinking due to a lack of Asian American stars. But this one is the first movie to have an Asian American lead in Keye Luke, later of "Kung Fu" series fame. Not sure why this isn't considered a big deal? An Asian American is not a servant, villain or side-kick but the star of a movie. Consider how openly racist Hollywood was at the time, this is a milestone that needs more attention. Also it's a good story, the fights aren't very good and the cop was a jerk, not a racist jerk. Just a jerk. Not sure if this was a prequel or a reboot but it is a good start in a not so inclusive time period of history. Rated 4.5 out of 5 stars 03/31/23 Full Review Audience Member Interesting in that this is only time an Asian detective is actually portrayed by an Asian actor. Prequel to the Karloff Wong films. Rated 3 out of 5 stars 01/20/23 Full Review Audience Member Keye Luke is Wonderful--Highly Enjoyable!! Rated 3 out of 5 stars 02/22/23 Full Review bill t Pretty good who-dunnit thriller about the death of an archaeologist. After he returns from the Orient. The archaeologist presents a lecture about his findings, a hidden tomb. Funny thing, is that he points out certain people in the room that went with him during the expedition, so right then and there you know that the archaeologist is toast and the people he just introduced are suspects ha ha. Mr Wong, smoothly played by Keye Luke, gets to the bottom of things. I really like how he solved this, using calm logical ways instead of having obvious clues thrown at us. I also liked the clueless homicide detective who sort of played a foil to Wong's character who essentially just followed Wong while he went on his crime-solving ways. Nifty little movie here. Rated 3 out of 5 stars 03/30/23 Full Review Audience Member 5.5/10. The last entry in the Mr. Wong series, with Keye Luke replacing Boris Karloff. Typical of the numerous series of this nature, short, sweet and entertaining. Nothing deep or significant but it works. Rated 3 out of 5 stars 01/30/23 Full Review Audience Member When a famous archeologist and expert in ancient Chinese history is murdered during a lecture on his recent expedition, young Chinese/Amercian and recent Oxford graduate Jimmy Wong (Luke) teams with homicide detective Street (Withers) to solve the mystery of his murder. They soon find themselves snared in a web of international intrigue, involving agents of foreign powers, "eternal flames", secret imperial tombs, and dead men appearing to kill from beyond the gave. "Phantom of Chinatown" is the final entry in the "Wong" series, but it's presented as a prequel to all the previous movies, with the part of Wong recast as a younger man--and a honest-to-God Chinaman at that! I've previously praised this series of mystery films as being unique in the "Oriental Master Detective"/"Oriental Master Villain" subgenres, because the title character speaks perfect English--and even has a better mastery of English than many of the non-hyphenated American characteres. James Wong is also unique in that he seems equally loyal to both his American heritage and his Chinese roots, living with one foot planted firmly in both cultures... and accepted equally by both. The final Wong film is even more unique than the rest, because it is, as far as I'm aware, the only time a lead Asian hero or villain was actually played by an Asian actor! For all its unusual qualities, "Phantom of Chinatown" does suffer from the total disregard for story continuity that was a hallmark of many film series of the day. Although this is written as a prequel to the other films, the cars, the cloting--everything--indicates it's set in the 1940s rather than in the 1920s when it would properly have occured. Plus, Street certainly does age well... because although Wong was recast as a younger man, the actor who has played Street in all previous films was not recast. (And I won't complain about the fact that Lotus Long was back in yet another, different role, brining it to a total of three different characters she's played, two of who didn't live to the end of the film she appeared in.) Although certain aspects of this film make my inner continuity geek cry, it's a fast-paced pulp-mystery tale (that has a higher quotient of fantastic elements than previous Wong adventures), with some nice humorous moments and snappy dialogue. The plot twists are interesting enough, and the acting is good as well. The fact that the two lead Chinese characters are actually being played by Asians helps to lend a stronger sense of reality to the final cinematic outhing of James Wong. Phantom of Chinatown Starring: Keye Luke, Lotus Long, and Grant Withers Director: Phil Rosen Rated 3 out of 5 stars 01/18/23 Full Review Read all reviews
Phantom of Chinatown

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Cast & Crew

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Movie Info

Synopsis San Francisco's Mr. Wong (Keye Luke) sleuths with the secretary (Lotus Long) of a poisoned archaeologist.
Phil Rosen
Paul Malvern
George Waggner
Monogram Pictures
Production Co
Monogram Pictures
Mystery & Thriller
Original Language
Release Date (Theaters)
Nov 18, 1940, Original
Release Date (Streaming)
Feb 1, 2016
1h 1m
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