28 March 2010 | delibebek
It might be argued that any of the movies starring Anna May Wong has an intrinsic element of Asian sympathy, but at various points in this story I felt they were overdoing it. Even though the story is set in Singapore, for purposes of feasibility I suppose, Wong's character's name is China Lily. Conveniently enough, one of her old friends from China happens to wander through her part of town also. Singapore was just a little fishing village apparently. What underscores the initial emphasis on the "exotic" setting and characters is an early comment by the so-called "King of the River" as he orders in the restaurant - "American style hamburger. Forget the onions." It's all too heavy-handed.
Otherwise the story isn't too bad. She is looking for her father, who happens to be a General, known to most of the other characters and when they discover her relation, their attitudes and motivations change. Through her charm she makes a connection with the King of the River and this leads to a positive resolution, if an expected one for this era.
Some of the weakness of the film, as for most of the era, is its reliance on sets and stock footage. Also, the dance with the drums, which is stereotypically "native" in its primitive appearance, does nothing to enhance the idea that the cultures of Southeast Asia are civilized in any way.
This movie is worth watching if you're a hound for the 1930s style of movie-making, or if you like to see the changes in how various cultures are depicted in American cinema. Otherwise, not much to recommend.