- Actors: Peter Lorre, John Carradine
- Format: Box set, Color, DVD-Video, NTSC
- Language: English
- Region: Region 1 (US and Canada This DVD will probably NOT be viewable in other countries. Read more about DVD formats.)
- Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
- Number of discs: 4
- MPAA Rating:
- Studio: 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment
- Release Date: Aug. 1 2006
- Average Customer Review: 1 customer review
- ASIN: B000FKO3U8
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #65,504 in Movies & TV Shows (See Top 100 in Movies & TV Shows)
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Mr. Moto Collection, Vol. 1 (Mr. Moto Takes A Chance / Mysterious Mr. Moto / Thank You Mr. Moto / Think Fast Mr. Moto) (4DVD)
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Bonus Features: **Mr. Moto Wave 1 includes Mr. Moto Takes A Chance, Mysterious Mr. Moto, Thank You Mr. Moto and Think Fast, Mr. Moto.
**All available for the first time on DVD plus The Mr. Moto Collection Volume One**
Episode Description: Disc 1: Mr. Moto Takes a Chance Disc 2: Mysterious Mr. Moto Disc 3: Thank You Mr. Moto Disc 4: Think Fast Mr. Moto
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You're heard of Jackie Chan, but his lesser-known spiritual cousin Mr Moto is far less famous.
Throughout the late 30s/ealry 40s, Peter Lorre traded on his unconventional looks and perfect sense of timing in Hollywood "quickies". The resulting series, Mr Moto, is now brought to you in two box sets, beautifully restored, at a bargain price. If you come at this a rookie, as I did, there are many great pleasures to be had:
First, Peter Lorre. This is before he succumbed to self-parody, as a Hollywood newcomer fresh from Germany, and his huge successes there both in Fritz Lang's masterpiece M, and stage work for Brecht. Lorre makes this unique hero endlessly engaging, playing up Moto's coy charm and deceptive use of stereotypes.
Second, the films themselves. The formula is impressively efficient, up to 75 minutes of breezy, playful fun, with exotic locations, impressive - given the conceit - production values, and enough nostalgia to find a place in your heart. While some of the subplot romantic leads may be horrid actors and painfully bland, watching Moto run circles around them only enhances the viewing pleasure.
Third, the love. Most of these films were directed by Norman Foster, and while many historical documents reveal his contempt for the original material he was handed, you can't help but respect the work he put in trying to elevate it as much as he could, from reworking the script to delivering a breezy direction, replete with some really nifty fight scenes (an anarchic bar fight in Mysterious Mr Moto is a particular case in point).
Now for a quick episode guide:
- Think Fast, Mr. Moto (box set 1): our entry point and a great start, mysteries on a cruise ship, and some occasionally ruthless action from Mr Moto (5 stars)
- Thank You, Mr. Moto (box set 1): some Oriental mystery and tomb-raiding in this China-bound adventure. This one feels more like an exploitation-Tintin crossover, with some fun to be had despite some painful racial stereotyping (3 stars)
- Mr Moto Takes a Chance (box set 1): a wild adventure this one, also part Indiana Jones, but with the absurdity-factor amped up. Solid fun (4 stars)
- Mysterious Mr. Moto (box set 1): this one is more in the Arthur Conan-Doyle tradition, plots within plots, a mysterious league and some death-traps. As good as Mr Moto gets (5 stars)
- Mr Moto's Gamble (box set 2): some boxing action in this one, with Mr Moto in more of an observer's role, Gamble was not directed by Forster, and while there are some interesting new stylistic flourishes, this adventure lacks a bit of focus. It also saddles Moto with some annoying comic relief (3 stars)
- Mr Moto's Last Warning (box set 2): some international intrigue and pretty nasty villains in this adventure, definitely one of the better installments (5 stars)
- Mr Moto on Danger Island (box set 2): another non-Foster directed installment, this time with a hint of Agatha Christie, and Mr Moto teaching judo to a dimwitted but loyal wrestler (3.5 stars)
- Mr Moto's Vacation (box set 2): a fan-favorite, this one. Artifacts, a mysterious nemesis, traps in a museum, and masked villains. The irritating posh English comic relief is wearing thin, but everything else is pitch-perfect (4.5 stars)
The films do not share a specific chronological link, but the first film in box set 1 gives a more rounded introduction of the character. There has also been some complaint that quality dips in box set 2, which sometimes goes overboard on the comic relief. I have to confess I bought them both, after reading the excellent Lorre biography "The Lost One" and just went on a Moto binge, culminating, oddly and antichronologically, with M. Watching them in this quick a succesion does help you poke more fun at the formula (mystery + endangered romance subplot + hapless comic-relief + wink-wink ending) but also provides an interesting insight into how maleable the formula is.
Thank you Fox for releasing these.
'Think Fast, Mr. Moto' - The son of a shipping lines magnate sails to Shanghai to deliver a sealed note concerning smuggling to the branch manager. While on-board he meets a peculiar, but likable, Japanese fellow named Moto . . . .
'Thank You, Mr. Moto' - Prince Chung is distressed to learn there are those who will stop at nothing to obtain his set of scroll paintings, which, when placed in order, reveal the location of Genguis Khan's tomb and treasure . . . .
'Mr. Moto Takes a Chance' - A young woman, making a solo flight around the world, fakes an in-flight-emergency, and parachutes over Cambodia. There she will meet a rajah, his high priest, a film crew, gunrunners, and Mr. Moto . . . .
'Mysterious Mr. Moto' - A member of the notorious "League of Assassins" escapes from the prison on Devil's Island with a fellow inmate named Ito, who is determined to be his servant when he rejoins his murderous gang in London . . . .
The Special Features on stuntman Harry Parry, producer Sol Wurtzel, director Norman Foster, and actor Peter Lorre (alas, his story is somewhat of a downer) are well done.
Picture (DVD): 3.5. Subtitles available: English & Spanish.
Peter Lorre was well cast as Mr. Moto the clever and resorcefull agent of the international police. he's a patient master of descise yet willing to take a risk. In the fight he's fast and agile. Unlike many of his contemporaries when fighting for his life, he actually kills the attacker; no accidents, falling on a knife tripping over a rail or getting hit by a train. I find these gimmicks repulsively anti-climatic. It's refreshing for the hero to take responsibility for doing what needs to be done. Mr. Moto often uses the westerner's arrogant underestimation of Asians to get near suspects to spy on them. It's only Mr. Moto they fear.
The stories are fast moving and exciting with variety of plot twists and turns. This was a case of, this is not an old movie, just one I've never seen before. I really enjoyed them, (All 8, I have volume 2 as well).