I've mentioned our love for Mr. Moto before, once or twice. So it's no mystery that we queued up Mysterious Mr. Moto (1938), which I think is one of the better ones.
It starts on Devil's Island, with French (Leon Ames) and Japanese (Peter Lorre) murderers escaping through the swamps and setting sail for London. Mr. Moto, in disguise as a jailbird, offers to act as Ames' houseboy. From there, he sets about tracking down the head of the infamous Leaue of Assassins. He lets his old friend in Scotland Yard know that he is on the job, but prefers to play a lone hand.
Some people are upset about the "so solly, please" stereotype - but of course that is a ruse. He is actually a well-spoken snappy dresser, plus martial artist and master of languages and disguise. This movie takes him to Limehouse, London's waterfront district, famed for Asians and sailors. He not only gets into bar rumbles, but woes a pretty Asian woman of the night. She is played by Lotus Long, a character actor of Hawaiian/Japanese descent who used a Chinese sounding name to avoid anti-Japanese sentiment. She seems like a very intelligent actress, and is one of my favorite parts.
There's quite a bit of action, with a stuntman standing in for Lorre. Along with the exotic backgrounds, this makes for a fun movie. I hate to keep harping on this, but it is so miles beyond the kind of budget allowed for a Charlie Chan. Enjoy.