In Japan, foreigners and their Japanese friends are caught up in the rising tide of militarism.In Japan, foreigners and their Japanese friends are caught up in the rising tide of militarism.In Japan, foreigners and their Japanese friends are caught up in the rising tide of militarism.
This film is a real mixed bag. On the one hand, it does look pretty ludicrous, particularly today, to see American actors like J. Carrol Naish and Tom Neal done up with heavy makeup--playing Japanese people! Sure, there may not have been that many actors of Japanese descent in Hollywood at the time, but at least having an Asian of some sort play the roles would have made a lot more sense. As one reviewer put it, the film was "loopy". On the other, while much of the propaganda may seem ridiculously overzealous and ridiculous today, the truth is that in many ways what the Japanese had really been doing wasn't that much different than in the film...though it was actually worse. This film showed a few atrocities being committed in China and talked about the Japanese troops doing bayonet practice with a baby--surely this didn't happen, right?! Well, actually it did--and a whole lot worse. It's actually pretty amazing that films made since WWII have mostly ignored the many, many Japanese atrocities committed in China and this wartime propaganda film is one of the few to even mention it. Don't believe me? Read Irish Chang's book "The Rape of Nanking" or the documentary NANKING. I hesitate to go into the details, but they are considerably worse than the killing of a few babies.
Back to the film. Aside from alluding to the truth of the killing of innocents by Japanese troops, the film is amazingly silly in parts. The boxing match with the Judo expert was really silly and the dialog often stilted...and silly. But overall, it's a really interesting curiosity piece and worth seeing. Plus, it lacks the overt racism and stupidity of one of Mr. Neal's other films, FIRST YANK IN TOKYO.
- Sep 19, 2009