Saturday, March 30, 2013

Thank You, Mr. Moto (1937)

8/10. In true Hollywood weird, ethnically screwy fashion, Hungarian Jewish actor László Löwenstein (AKA Peter Lorre) played a mysterious Japanese figure named Mr. Moto in eight films between 1937-1939. Classic B movies that clock in at barely over an hour, with some wonderful black and white cinematography, interesting sets and fast-paced action. They are also considered the first martial arts films in the west, as Mr. Moto frequently employs his judo skills to fight the bad guys. (Yes, Peter Lorre was Bruce Lee before Bruce Lee.) Despite the awkward spectacle of Lorre playing Hollywood Japanese, I do enjoy watching him as an actor. One of the interesting aspects of the Moto films is that he's not a typical Hollywood hero - his motives are not always apparent, he seems to live in the grey zone between the good guys and the criminals, and he brutally kills people on occasion. This Moto film has a darker, more interesting story, some intense scenes, good writing, and a wicked sense of humor at times. Weird stuff, but I'm enjoying watching the series so far.

No comments: