This DVD is offered as part of MGM’s “Limited Edition Collection” on DVD, which is available from select online retailers and are manufactured only when the DVD is ordered. The DVD features a simple menu with no menu for chapters or scenes. Manufacture-On-Demand (MOD) DVDs are made to play in DVD playback units only and may not play in DVD recorders or PC drives. This DVD did not play in our laptop DVD drive but did play in our Toshiba DVD recorder.
ASPECT RATIO: 1.37:1
RUNNING TIME: 69 minutes
RATING: Not rated
AUDIO: Dolby Digital 2.0
SPECIAL FEATURES: None
When a businessman turns up dead, private detective James Lee Wong (Boris Karloff) investigates and discovers a conspiracy involving international spies.
Screenplay by: Houston Branch, based on the short stories by Hugh Wiley
Directed by: William Nash
Mr. Wong, Detective is the first in a series of mystery films with the legendary Boris Karloff in the title role. The films have a small but dedicated following among film fans, but some are critical of the use of a non-Asian actor to play Mr. Wong. To his credit, Karloff never reverts to any Asian stereotypes; he plays Wong as an intelligent, well-spoken man.
The film may not be as riveting as today’s mysteries, and some of the crime-scene logic doesn’t quite make sense in today’s CSI-addicted world. Still, the story does leave you guessing to some extent. Some answers are given early on, and you have to see if Wong will discover the truth.
Clocking in at just 69 minutes, the film can be watched in a short sitting. While it is quite talky and can drag at times, the film is fairly entertaining and the resolution is fulfilling. Mystery fans will enjoy spending time with Mr. Wong.
VIDEO AND AUDIO
This movie was made in 1938, and obviously it was not maintained or restored. The DVD warns that they used the best source materials available, but even so, it is not very good. There is a lot of dust and lint on the print used, and the brightness flickers at times. It is fuzzy like a third generation VHS copy, and the image shows some artifacting. The audio is scratchy in places, but most of the voices can be heard with no problem.
BUY IT OR NETFLIX IT?
OVERALL GRADE: C
The DVD release of an older film like Mr. Wong, Detective is nice to see, as Karloff does a great job in the title role. The audio and video presentation leaves much to be desired, but considering there are likely no clear prints of the film available, I cannot hold that against the DVD release. The film itself is entertaining, and fans of Karloff should absolutely check it out. I would give a “buy” recommendation to only the most die-hard fans, while everyone else should at least at it to their Netflix queue or rent it.
Mr. Wong, Detective is now available from online retailers through MGM/Fox Home Entertainment.
Click here to order Mr. Wong, Detective on DVD from Amazon.