The Chinese Ring



Rotten Tomatoes Critics - Rotten 22%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience - Spilled 22%
IMDb Rating 5.8/10 10 670 670

Top cast

Victor Sen Yung as Tommy Chan
624.53 MB
English 2.0
29.97 fps
1 hr 7 min
Seeds 18

Movie Reviews

Reviewed by classicsoncall 6 / 10

"A murder in the house of Charlie Chan, now I've seen everything."

"The Chinese Ring" is a passable entry in the Monogram series of Charlie Chan films, notable for Roland Winters' first time portrayal of the Oriental Detective. In a strange departure from the usual strong continuity between films, Victor Sen Yung is presented as Number #2 Son named Tommy; he was Jimmy in all of his prior Chan films with Sidney Toler. Number #3 son Tommy was portrayed in earlier movies by Benson Fong. Mantan Moreland is on hand as Birmingham Brown.

The intrigue involves the murder of Chinese Princess Mei Ling (Barbara Jean Wong) and her servant; the ring she uses to introduce herself to Charlie Chan is inscribed in Chinese - "Long life and happiness". Stunned by a poisonous dart, she manages to write the name of "Capt K" on a scrap of paper in Chan's study. The clue leads Chan and Sergeant Bill Davidson (Warren Douglas) of the San Francisco PD in two directions. Captain Kong of the S.S. Shanghai Maid brought the princess to this country, while Captain James Kelso is the owner of the Kelso Aviation Company. Both are in league with banker Armstrong, eventually revealed as the mastermind of a plot to sell, but not deliver airplanes to Mei Ling's brother, a field marshal for the Chinese Army.

This is a reasonably paced entry in the Chan series, particularly for Winters' first turn as the Oriental Detective. Louise Currie provides great support as reporter Peggy Cartwright, although she's embarrassingly pushed around by romantic interest Sergeant Davidson. The mystery is a lot easier to follow than prior Chan films, many of which had up to a dozen characters to keep track of; here it's all wrapped up pretty neatly by film's end.

***Added on 11/12/08 - Monogram Pictures originally made this film in 1939 as "Mr. Wong in Chinatown", with Boris Karloff in the role of the title detective. In that story, the 'Captain K' clue differed by one letter - 'Captain J'. Otherwise, it's pretty much the same story, even including a variation of my summary line above, citing a 'murder in the house of Mr. Wong'!

Reviewed by shakspryn 7 / 10

A fun, entertaining Charlie Chan movie

This is exactly the kind of movie that used to get shown late at night on local TV stations, or on weekend afternoons, in the 1970's. I watched all the Basil Rathbone Sherlock Holmes movies that way. This was the first time that Roland Winters played Chan. I think he was probably trying to decide how to play the character, and didn't want to come off as attempting to Imitate Sidney Toler. He underplays the humor, but it is still there. I think he was trying to be a bit more subtle and low-key about it than Toler was. Mantan Moreland is in this one; he's in all the Roland Winter Chan movies, and he's in 9 of the 11 Toler-Monogram films. He's a fine comic actor and his presence is always an asset. There were so many B-movies of the late 1940's that tried and failed to mix in humor successfully. This is a relaxing way to spend an hour. Nice period clothes, and at one point, I think I saw a beautiful Pierce Arrow sedan, pre-WWII. The movie is well worth seeing. Monogram gets a bad rap from viewers who are always pining for the higher-budget Fox film period. Charlie Chan is always worth watching.

Reviewed by Panamint 6 / 10

Not a bad movie

I cannot say that "The Chinese Ring" is a bad mystery movie, because it isn't. The production values are good enough, especially considering the studio that made it. Although the story and some of the dialog is literally a remake of an older Monogram "Mr. Wong" film, the producers seem to be trying to put forth a dignified continuation of the established Chan series; I do not believe that this is a "take the money and run" fast-buck ripoff (like say Jaws 4,5, 9 etc). It is a legit effort and William Beaudine was probably as fine and established a director as Monogram could afford to hire.

Roland Winters was a good actor who had a long and distinguished career. He was the studio's choice to continue the Chan character and probably wasn't the best choice but I guess he is adequate. Winters seems tentative here but has the thankless task of following up his two beloved and deceased predecessors in the ongoing role of Charlie Chan. His acting approach here is too careful and very deliberate but doesn't lack skill, and he manages to avoid what could have been career suicide. He does become a little more forceful and lively in his subsequent Chan films.

Moreland and Sen Yung are capable in support and manage to avoid the outright buffoonery that was required of them in previous Chan outings. Phillip Ahn is a very recognizable actor in a villain role. He does a good job and he is another example of the studio's commitment to the Chan project, since they could have used a much cheaper unknown actor if so inclined.

This is an OK mystery story (after all, its a tried-and-true story from a good prior film). It works as a mystery and moves along at a brisk enough clip for the most part. Overall not a great film, but not a bad one.

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