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Mr. Wong, Detective - The Complete Collection (Mr. Wong, Detective / The Mystery of Mr. Wong / Mr. Wong in Chinatown / The Fatal Hour / Doomed to Die / Phantom of Chinatown) [Import]

4.5 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews

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  • Mr. Wong, Detective - The Complete Collection (Mr. Wong, Detective / The Mystery of Mr. Wong / Mr. Wong in Chinatown / The Fatal Hour / Doomed to Die / Phantom of Chinatown) [Import]
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Product Details

  • Actors: Boris Karloff, Grant Withers, Maxine Jennings, Evelyn Brent, George Lloyd
  • Directors: William Nigh
  • Writers: Houston Branch, Hugh Wiley
  • Producers: William T. Lackey
  • Format: Box set, Black & White, DVD-Video, Full Screen, NTSC, Import
  • Language: English
  • Region: All RegionsAll Regions
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 2
  • MPAA Rating: NR
  • Studio: VCI Entertainment
  • Release Date: March 25 2008
  • Run Time: 69 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews
  • ASIN: B0013K1AK0
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Product Description


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By Sasa on March 11 2011
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
Un peu craintive de voir Boris Karloff en chinois....mais je dois dire que ça passe bien.De bons scénarios avec des acteurs intéressants quoique certains reviennent souvent dans d'autres rôles.Une bonne série si on est nostalgique!
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Format: DVD Verified Purchase
I like all of these except two films may be. One where Karloff doesn't play Wong and as other not very well made. Others are really very enjoyable.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) HASH(0xa0750648) out of 5 stars 67 reviews
66 of 73 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa0870d74) out of 5 stars "Mr. Wong Detective ... Boris Karloff & Keye Luke ... VCI Ent. (2008)" Feb. 20 2008
By J. Lovins - Published on
Format: DVD
VCI Entertainment presents "MR. WONG, DETECTIVE: THE COMPLETE COLLECTION" (1938-1940) (403 mins) (In Glorious Black & White/Fully Restored/Dolby Digitally Remastered) --- Boris Karloff (born William Henry Pratt) was an English actor who emigrated to Canada in the 1910s --- He is best known for his roles in horror films and his portrayal of Frankenstein's monster in the 1931 film Frankenstein --- His popularity following Frankenstein in the early 1930s was such that for a brief time he was billed simply as "Karloff" --- In contrast to the characters he played on screen, Karloff was known in real life as a very kind gentleman who gave generously, especially to children's charities --- Karloff was also a charter member of the Screen Actors Guild, and was especially outspoken regarding working conditions on sets (some extremely hazardous) that actors were expected to deal with in the mid-1930s.

In the next few paragraphs are reviews of Mr. Wong, the detective played to the hilt by Boris Karloff --- 1938-1940 Monogram series with suspenseful whodunit --- ask the question as the "how" in each of his cases to be solved --- Although made up to look vaguely Asian, Karloff eschews the stereotypical cadences and one liner sayings of those rival Asian sleuths Mr. Moto and Charlie Chan and is more believable than both detectives --- Karloff as Mr. Wong is still up there with the best of them for mysteries and suspense in the film annuals.

1. Boris Karloff (aka: William Henry Pratt)
Date of Birth: 23 November 1887 - Camberwell, London, England, UK
Date of Death: 2 February 1969 - Midhurst, Sussex, England, UK

"MR. WONG DETECTIVE" (5 October 1938) (69 mins/B&W) (Fully Restored/Dolby Digitally Remastered) --- Story line and plot, Monogram Pictures at its best --- As Mr. Wong discovers, the answer is to be found in the origin and purpose of the mysterious pieces of glass found near each victim --- 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 --- Grant Withers, who appeared in five of the six films as the ubiquitous dumb police detective --- The climactic sequence is one of the better ones that you'll see in this kind of B-movie --- but with a solid story and Karloff in the lead, it's definitely worth seeing.

the cast includes:
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

"THE MYSTERY OF MR. WONG" (8 March 1939) (68 mins/B&W) (Fully Restored/Dolby Digitally Remastered) --- Story line and plot, Is a classic mystery as The Eye of the Daughter of the Moon, a golfball sized sapphire has been stolen in China and smuggled into the United States --- And Richards, a rich man who knows a curse was placed on the Eye by the Emperor Hong Chong Tu as he buried it in his dead unfaithful wife's heart, expects to be murdered for receiving it --- Richards shows Mr Wong the Eye and a death threat note --- Watch and take note that at a party, during a game of "Indications", Richards is shot, seemingly by his secretary, Peter Harrison --- Many suspects emerge, a peeking Chinese butler and maid, a budding singer, another criminologist, Richards' lawyer and an unsigned changed will. Mr Wong helps Street sort out the details to uncover all the secrets and the murderer.

the cast includes:
Boris Karloff ... James Lee Wong
Grant Withers ... Police Captain Sam Street
Dorothy Tree ... Valerie Edwards
Craig Reynolds ... Peter Harrison

MR. WONG IN CHINATOWN" (1 August 1939) (71 mins/B&W) (Fully Restored/Dolby Digitally Remastered) --- Story line and plot, Watch this unfold as pretty Chinese woman, seeking help from San Francisco detective James Lee Wong, is killed by a poisoned dart in his front hall, having time only to scrawl "Captain J" on a sheet of paper, what does this mean --- She proves to be Princess Lin Hwa, on a secret military mission for Chinese forces fighting the Japanese invasion --- Can any clue help our master detective as Mr. Wong finds two captains with the initial J in the case, neither being quite what he seems; there's fog on the waterfront and someone still has that poison dart gun --- Karloff held this picture together and has made this film a true Mr. Wong series classic for all Karloff fans.

the cast includes:
Boris Karloff ... Mr. James Lee Wong
Marjorie Reynolds ... Roberta 'Bobbie' Logan (reporter)
Grant Withers ... Police Capt. Bill Street
Huntley Gordon ... Mr. Davidson (bank president)

"THE FATAL HOUR" (15 January 1940) (68 mins/B&W) (Fully Restored/Dolby Digitally Remastered) --- Story line and plot, Oriental detective Mr. Wong has successfully solved quite a lot of difficult cases, with his splendid observation talents and marvelous deduction skills --- unequaled master actor Boris Karloff in the role James Lee Wong. Police --- When Captain Street's best friend Dan O'Grady is murdered, Street enlists the help of Chinese detective James Lee Wong. Mr. Wong uncovers a smuggling ring on the waterfront of San Francisco and unmasks the killer, though not until several more murders occur --- where all the smuggling import and export takes place - is the obvious suspect, but there are a lot more people involved --- I liked the realistic aspect that Wong isn't a super hero who prevents further murders from happening and thus has to face several more dead bodies during his investigation --- Karloff is terrific and he receives good feedback from the supportive cast. Particularly Marjorie Reynolds is likable as the obtrusive yet helpful gossip reporter Bobby Logan

the cast includes:
Boris Karloff ... James Lee Wong
Grant Withers ... Capt. Bill Street
Marjorie Reynolds ... Roberta 'Bobbie' Logan
Charles Trowbridge ... John T. Forbes

"DOOMED TO DIE" (12 August 1940) (68 mins/B&W) (Fully Restored/Dolby Digitally Remastered) --- Story line and plot, Karloff returns once again as the famous Chinese detective James Lee Wong to solve the murder of a shipping tycoon --- As usual what seems like an open and shut case to Capt. Street (Grant Withers) quickly becomes a web of deceit, lies and murder! --- Karloff is, of course, great as Wong. I loved his entrances from the most unlikely places, such as windows or fire escapes --- Thus far, Shipping magnate Cyrus Wentworth, downcast over a disaster to his ocean liner 'Wentworth Castle' (carrying, oddly enough, an illicit shipment of Chinese bonds) is shot in his office --- What has at the very moment of kicking out his daughter's fiance Dick Fleming to do with this case --- Of course, Captain Street arrests Dick, but reporter Bobbie Logan, the attractive thorn in Street's side, is so convinced he's wrong that she enlists the help of detective James Lee Wong to find the real killer --- What unfolds later in the film is quite a mystery in itself.

the cast includes:
Boris Karloff ... James Lee Wong
Marjorie Reynolds ... Roberta 'Bobbie' Logan
Grant Withers ... Capt. William 'Bill' Street (Homicide Squad)
William Stelling ... Dick Fleming
Catherine Craig ... Cynthia Wentworth
Guy Usher ... Paul Fleming (Dick's father)
Henry Brandon ... Victor 'Vic' Martin (attorney)

"PHANTOM OF CHINATOWN" (18 November 1940) (62 mins/B&W) (Fully Restored/Dolby Digitally Remastered) --- Story line and plot, Detective James Lee Wong (Keye Luke) is on the scene as archeologist Dr. John Benton, recently returned from an expedition in China where a valuable ancient scroll was recovered, is murdered while giving a lecture on the expedition --- Key Luke is handsome, charming, dashing, brave and clever as James Lee Wong, and he meets his perfect match in Lotus Long, the mysterious Chinese secretary of a famous Anglo-American archaeologist.--- Luke shows his feelings for Long with his eyes and smile. Lee Tung Foo also deserves mention in a fun turn as Wong's servant.

the cast includes:
Keye Luke ... James Lee 'Jimmy' Wong
Grant Withers ... Police Captain Street
Lotus Long ... Win Lee, Benton's Secretary
Lee Tung Foo ... Foo, Jimmy's Cook
Charles F. Miller ... Dr. John Benton / Cyrus Benton in Newspaper (as Charles Miller)
Huntley Gordon ... Dr. Norman Wilkes

2. Keye Luke
Date of Birth: 18 June 1904 - Guangzhou, China
Date of Death: 12 January 1991 - Whittier, California

1. Scene Selection
2. Photo Gallery
3. Bonus Serial Chapter: Red Barry (1938) - Chapter 1
4. Classic Boris Karloff Movie Trailers
5. Classic Cartoons of the Era

Hats off and thanks to Robert Blair and his staff at VCI Entertainment --- VCI was named in Variety and Hollywood Reporter as the first company to produce and release motion pictures directly to the home marketplace --- order your copy now from Amazon or VCI Entertainment where there are plenty of copies available on DVD, stay tuned once again for top notch releases --- VCI are experts in releasing long forgotten films and treasures to the collector -- looking forward to more Nostalgic Collections.

Total Time: 403 min on VHS/DVD ~ VCI Entertaiment ~ (3/25/2008)
17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa0ad9f24) out of 5 stars very good April 2 2008
By John R. Bolton - Published on
Format: DVD
I don't remember seeing this when I was young. I am 61 and don't know how I miss Mr. Wong, but it was great to see this for the first time. It had some good "who done it" and kept you to the end. It is not perfect, but I really enjoyed it. Worth the buy

John Ga, Usa
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa0531750) out of 5 stars "Murder in the house of Mr Wong! Now I've seen everything." Aug. 21 2012
By Trevor Willsmer - Published on
Format: DVD
Monogram's Mr. Wong series may have been very obviously intended to cash in on the success of the Charlie Chan films and a couple would ironically be remade as genuine Charlie Chan film itself less than a decade later, but Boris Karloff's Chinese detective is a very different cup of tea, and not just because his makeup makes him look more Japanese. He's a much more upmarket sleuth, unfailingly polite but not as self-effacing (he's every inch the educated gentleman rather than a humble servant) and able to talk without lapsing into homilies. He's also treated not just as an equal but as a superior, albeit by virtue of his academic qualifications, class, money and inherent good taste.

Being a not quite poverty row production, Mr. Wong, Detective (remade in 1948 as a Charlie Chan film itself, Docks of New Orleans) is a modestly staged affair, but the means by which a group of businessmen (John Hamilton, Perry White from TV's Adventures of Superman among them) are killed is rather neat - especially the trigger mechanism which guarantees the cavalry won't come to your rescue. Being 1938 with the clouds of war drawing closer there's a trio of suspects who represent Germany, Italy and Russia, one of them (Lucien Prival) even looking like a bargain basement Erich Von Stroheim. Bill Nigh's direction makes the most of his modest resources, establishing the template for the chalk-and-cheese but mutually respectful relationship between Grant Withers' brash Detective Street (not yet saddled with Marjorie Reynolds' regular go-getting reporter girlfriend) and Karloff's soft-spoken, patient Wong that would be the backbone of the series.

The Mystery of Mr. Wong starts off as something of an improvement, establishing the rich murder victim's bona fides as a nasty piece of work before a game of homicidal charades at a party for the great and good, Mr Wong among them, turns into the real thing. When the assembled guests realise that the victim isn't that good an actor it settles down into a decent but unexceptional house of suspects number, with the murderer increasingly obvious despite most of the clues and the motive being withheld from the audience until the last reel. A remake of 1931's Murder at Midnight, there are hints of The Moonstone along the way, with the victim recently having smuggled into a fabulous but cursed sapphire from China, but hints of the supernatural or the Yellow Peril are kept firmly in the background as Wong and fellow criminologist Holmes Herbert try to sift the red herrings from their haul of well-motivated suspects without ever doing anything too expensive along the way.

The production values went up a bit - at least by Monogram's standards - for third entry Mr. Wong in Chinatown, with the sophisticated sleuth finding a potential client murdered in his own house before he even gets a chance to greet her. The victim was a Chinese princess on a secret mission to buy warplanes and smuggle them out of America in a plot involving dwarfs, exploding taxis, sleeve guns, fistfights, forged cheques and a large sum of missing money, and as usual Grant Withers' Detective Street is waiting in his office for another phone call to summon him to view the latest body - that is, when he's not fighting with another female reporter he's dating (Marjorie Reynolds this time in her first of three Wong films). Later remade in 1947 as The Chinese Ring, part of Monogram's Charlie Chan series, there's a lot more action this time round and things move along a lot more briskly.

The Fatal Hour (aka Mr. Wong at Headquarters) sees Wong and Street on the trail of the man who murdered one of their friends who, conveniently, was investigating smuggling treasures from the Orient into America, with the trail leading from upmarket imitation jewellery shops to a shady waterfront nightclub. Naturally `the Chinese copper' solves the mystery with the aid of an advanced remote control radio in the kind of film that's as professionally unexceptional as you'd expect from a film designed primarily to offer movie theatres a cheaper alternative to that season's Charlie Chan movie. Unfortunately the print quality on this title in the VCI collection is pretty poor, with one reel fairly bleached out before improving slightly for the rest of the film.

Doomed to Die is certainly the most tired and visibly cut-rate entry in the series - not only does this again use chunks of footage from The Fatal Hour but lifts a whole sequence from Mr Wong in Chinatown with new close-ups so incredibly clumsily that Richard Loo turns into considerably older Moy Ming - complete with entirely different facial hair - and then back again! It's a pretty tedious locked room mystery that struggles to pad out its running time, with Karloff and company going through it with all the enthusiasm of an unwanted contractual obligation. Still, there's a memorably obnoxious cocky chauffeur among the suspects ("We're both the same type. You write lies and I tell them") and some familiar faces in the supporting cast, including a surprisingly artificial Henry Brandon (Scar from The Searchers and Silas Barnaby from Laurel and Hardy's Babes in Toyland), Paul Kelly in a rare non-creepy guy role and an uncredited Gibson Gowland, once the star of Von Stroheim's Greed, as a doctor.

Phantom of Chinatown gets a surprising shot in the arm from the departure of Boris Karloff and director Bill Nigh (here replaced by Phil Rosen), with the team working off the star's Monogram contract with The Ape and the studio suddenly left with a contractual obligation to deliver a sixth film. The solution was revolutionary in more ways than one - casting a younger actor of Chinese descent in the role of a Chinese detective and making the film a prequel. Keye Luke's a more energetic figure blessed with a lot more personality than Karloff and his presence helps turn some of the clichés around, the film going out of its way to puncture stereotypes - in a lecture academics laughing at footage of a Chinese dance are rebuked with the reminder that China was civilised long before the west, Detective Street's belief that a Chinese woman eats chop suey for lunch proves spectacularly wide of the mark - she prefers apple pie and coffee - while Wong gets to deliver a real humdinger when a condescending butler points out the sarcophagus of a Ming Dynasty emperor: "They tell me that a Chinese archaeological expedition is digging up the body of George Washington in exchange. Well, it gives you a rough idea." Even the genre conventions take the odd jab, with Wong pointedly dismissing one suspect because in these kind of stories the most suspicious character is never the guilty party.

The budget is still visibly low - you'll still see a lot of the same sets from the earlier films, barely redressed in some cases - and it's still not a great picture, but it's a zippy little programmer that's good enough to make you regret the studio not deciding to carry on the series in a similar vein and least ensures that things go out on a high.

VCI's NTSC collection of all six films isn't quite the best transfer on the market - MGM have released manufactured-on-demand DVD-Rs of the first few films that are apparently superior quality - but it's certainly the best of the many public domain versions available on the market, and even comes with a few extras: stills gallery, vintage Max Fleischer cartoons cartoons Date to Skate and King for a Day, the first chapter of vintage serial Red Barry and trailers for Karloff films Frankenstein, The Mummy, Bride of Frankenstein and House of Frankenstein.
12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa073d03c) out of 5 stars Oh Boris... Aug. 14 2011
By Jan L. Collins - Published on
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
I abslultely love this series. Boris Karloff as Mr. Wong, a San Francisco detective. I think he's most unlike Charlie Chan, but of course it's hard not to make comparisons. I was most touched to see how lovely Mr. Karloff's hands are and how he uses them to his best advantage, he is an elegant gentleman. I watch a 9 year old boy after school now and then, and I've taken it upon myself to show him what things were like in the old days, and my days. He really enjoyed these Mr. Wong films, and asked to watch them when he came...I think in this day and age, that's a high recommendation!
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa0980224) out of 5 stars The Famous Chinese Detective Runoff Oct. 18 2009
By Magnifying Glass - Published on
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
When Warner Oland's run as Charlie Chan ended in 1938, the race was on for a new chinese detective. The first entries were Charlie Chan in Honolulu (Sidney Toler) and Mr. Wong Detective (Boris Karloff.) The Chan movies continued on, while the Wong movies sputtered out.

Who is Mr. Wong? He is strictly a local detective, never straying far from Chinatown. He is a gentleman, who speaks softly and is clearly amused by the bark and bluster of the other characters. With his expertise in arcane subjects and ties to a Chinese tong, he aids Captain Street in solving all crimes chinese.

Captain Street is big, tall, and domineering. He impatiently draws conclusions, and in some cases, before he examines the murder scene! He is brash, boorish, loud, insulting, and of course, he has women problems. In the first film he has a girl friend, just barely; in the second he has none; and in the third he begins dating Bobby Logan.

Bobby, a newspaper reporter, is always nosing around the station looking for a scoop. Unbelievably, this sexy, vivacious, spunky reporter is hot for this big lug. It is fun to watch their tiffs and antics. By the fifth film, Street's incessant rudeness wears thin, and when he violates her feather, well, that was probably the last straw, because by the sixth film she is gone.

These are good films, except the last one, in which Keye Luke gives a tepid performance as Wong.

A reprieve: The script for Mr. Wong in Chinatown was later reused in The Chinese Ring, a Charlie Chan (Roland Winters) film. Watching these side-by-side, it is obvious that Wong wins one after all!

Picture is usually good, sometimes grainy, but overall watchable. Sound is good, but occasional faint thumping in last film.