When a chemical manufacturer is killed after asking detective James Wong to help him, Wong investigates this and two subsequent murders. He uncovers a international spy ring hoping to steal the formula for a poison gas being developed by the first victim's company.
Boris Karloff ... Mr. James Lee Wong
Grant Withers ... Captain Sam Street
Maxine Jennings ... Myra Ross, Dayton's Secretary
Evelyn Brent ... Olga Petroff / Countess Dubois / Sophie Dome
George Lloyd ... Detective Lt. Devlin
Lucien Prival ... Anton Mohl, aka Baron Von Krantz
John St. Polis ... Carl Roemer, Poison Gas Inventor
William Gould ... Theodore Meisel, Dayton's Partner
Hooper Atchley ... Christian Wilk, Dayton's Partner
John Hamilton ... Simon Dayton, President Dayton Chemical Co.
Wilbur Mack ... Russell, Dayton's Office Manager
Lee Tung Foo ... Tchin, Wong's Servant (as Lee Tong Foo)
Lynton Brent ... Detective Tommy
Grace Wood ... Mrs. Carl Roemer
Although most of the production is pretty plain, the basic mystery story in "Mr. Wong, Detective" is rather interesting, and Boris Karloff's good performance as the detective also makes it worth seeing. Karloff brought a human touch to every role that he played, and even though this is an atypical part for him, he is a believable Mr. Wong. Most of the other characters are somewhat nondescript, except for Grant Withers's abrasive police officer, and aside from Karloff the cast is nothing special, but the story itself is enough to hold your interest.
In the story, the detective must patiently solve a mystery from the slightest of clues. Some of the developments strain credibility, but if you can accept the premise, it's an interesting idea and it makes decent use of the details. There are several places where it could have been written better or edited more effectively, but the pacing is pretty good, and as it proceeds, it often gives you what you need to know in order to try to anticipate what happens next.
The climactic sequence is one of the better ones that you'll see in this kind of B-movie. The production values are lower than a Karloff feature deserves, but with a solid story and Karloff in the lead, it's definitely worth seeing.
As a fan, even connoisseur, of B and C movies, I think this one is very well done. The sets are especially impressive, and the detail -- especially the interiors -- are pretty amazing. Good story, good plot, even though the death weapon is a duplicate of "Charlie Chan in Egypt." Boris is enjoyable as Mr. Moto. The makeup artist is far less talented than the set designer; Boris' hair looks like it is lacquered to his skull. Still, you like him, and that's what counts. Grant Withers is too loud (vocally, that is) but gives an honest performance as a crabby, dim-witted police detective. John St.Polis is a standout as Roemer. Fun to watch and worth the time.
This obscure little movie is a delightful surprise for film buffs. The surprise is Boris Karloff in the role of the well mannered oriental detective. Yes, this is the same Boris Karloff who was Frankenstein the monster! He manages the role as if it were a well worn and comfortable pair of houseshoes, and it becomes unimportant, quickly forgotten and insignificant that a nonoriental is Mr. Wong.
A business man gets involved with a deal involving poison gas. When he is inexplicably found dead in his office under suspicious circumstances, Detective Street (Grant Withers) is called in on the case. The sharp tongued detective Street looks for the blatant and obvious clues, while he often misses what is going on beneath the surface in this mysterious case. Mr. Wong, a well known detective who was acquainted with the victim, begins to notice clues that Detective Street overlooks. The body count begins to mount as the partners of the dead business man also begin to die under strange circumstances. Mr. Wong must keep his mind open in this thriller when the obvious suspect first seems guilty, then innocent as other suspects turn up including a sinister Baron and a Countess. Maxine Jennings is great as Detective Streets lady friend, Myra. Snappy dialogue and good actors move the story along at a good clip. There are a couple of scenes that are shot in poor lighting, but they don't hinder this very good entry in the 1930's detective genre of movies.
This will be an entertaining movie for film buffs.
Having seen the others of the Wong canon earlier, and this being the first, I believe it to be superior to those. Karloff appeared to take the role seriously. The plot to use the poison gas is clever. The potential for a terrorist act is always there. There are also lots of dynamics at work. Wong is so under control. He bides his time and lets the young police detective make a fool of himself, using heavy handed tactics on those he is interrogating. What's interesting is that Wong seems to have respect for this guy who knows nothing and acts so irrationally. Wong eventually moves in and gets the information he needs in a gentle manner. While much of this strains the limits of believability, it shows Karloff to be a pretty good actor. These series things are really throwaways and yet he seems to care how his character comes across. Whenever there is a closeup, it's hard to imagine him being Asian, but there was a lot of that going around in those days.