Lugosi Rises Above Another Abysmal Movie
Edward Garea | Branchville, New Jersey United States | 02/14/2003
(3 out of 5 stars)
""Black Dragons" is a film that, as most Bela Lugosi fans know, was made for Sam Katzman and his Banner Productions, and then released by Monogram Pictures. So forget about plot; plot in a Katzman flick is only incidental to the shoddy sets, direction, and acting. The truth be told, this is one of those pictures that, if it didn't have a Lugosi, would not have been made. OK, here's the plot . . . and don't ask me to repeat it: Seems a group of prominent American businessmen are being slain. We also know that it is Lusosi doing the slaying, because it's revealed very early on in the film as to what he's up to. Now, here's the twist. The American businessmen are really Japanese, having been trtansformed by none other than Dr. Lugosi, in this picture a Nazi Evil Scientist (Boo!) and sent here as a fifth column.It immediately strikes our sense of logic that it would be far easier just to send over a geoup of Germans or Italians than go to all the trouble of changing a person's race. But this is a Katzman flick, so logic is the first thing a viewer leaves behind when entering. Of course Lugosi is caught (by a pre-Lone Ranger Clayton Moore), thus getting his at the end. It is amazing to me that no matter how ridiculous the plot, Lugosi remains solidly professional rather than go down the chute with the movie. One reason why I become angry when someone tries to tell me that he was a bad actor.If this picture were set in today's age, Lugosi would do quite well as a dream-come true to Michael Jackson and Joan Rivers, among others.The quality of the film is dark and murky - apparently no effort was made to clean things up, but you can't go wrong for the price, especially if you are a fan of the genre or Lugosi. Perhaps the film will resurface in Bela Junior's restored series of his father's films. I certainly hope so."
Colorized Black Dragons.
Doghouse King | Omaha, NE United States | 05/05/2001
(2 out of 5 stars)
"No movie with Bela Lugosi in it can be a total bore, but this one comes too close. It deals with a Nazi doctor performing surgery on Japanese spies to make them pass as Americans. This is done to ease their schemes at sabotaging our war effort. It is a cheap movie, a slow movie, but would not even suffer too much for these flaws if it did not also rely on a long and awkward flashback sequence near the end, snuffing out what suspense had been built. The quality of the tape is not bad, but either you like colorized movies or you don't. This reviewer does not. Die-hard Lugosi fans (are there any other kind?) may want to purchase Black Dragons, but others will find it too ... ehh."
Wartime Horrors With Bela Lugosi
Scott T. Rivers | Los Angeles, CA USA | 12/21/2009
(2 out of 5 stars)
""Black Dragons" (1942) mixes a few chills with its bizarre World War II espionage. The results are somewhat dull, but Bela Lugosi helps enliven the proceedings as the sinister plastic surgeon who has a few surprises in store for Japan's Black Dragon Society. A pre-Lone Ranger Clayton Moore plays the disgruntled romantic hero. Ideal for nighttime viewing, with a lurid twist ending. Another Monogram quickie from producer Sam Katzman."
Murder Mystery in Wartime
Acute Observer | Jersey Shore USA | 12/09/2008
(2 out of 5 stars)
"The film shows Washington and the Capitol. [The legislature was considered more important than the Executive Mansion.] A newspaper headline states "Japs Bomb Honolulu". Businessmen talk about building an ammunition dump near the dam. Others talk about sensitive topics. Is there Fifth Column activity going on? Films show fires and as sinking ship. Why are those businessmen so cynical? A stranger calls on Dr. Sanders at home. What happened? A body is found on the steps of the closed Japanese Embassy. What happened? An investigator arrives to gather information. Uncle Bill's niece Miss Alice arrived too. A man arrives to get information, but fails. "He was sound as a dollar." [That's when dollars were made of silver.] What will the visitors find in Mr. Walter's hotel room? A Japanese dagger?
Van Dyke and Ryder return to Dr. Sanders, who gives advice to handle a problem. But they neutralize each other. [Neat, but not believable.] Miss Alice goes to investigate. They find nothing! A body in the cellar shows a lack of proper housekeeping. Two bodies are left on the Japanese Embassy steps. [No anti-littering laws?] Dick will go to see banker Handlin. The butler has disappeared too. Dick Martin brings Handlin back to Washington. There is a shot and the truth finally comes out. Can you believe this Grand Impersonation? [I can't.] What is the fitting reward for the good doctor? Will this Spy Ring be smashed?
The idea behind this film could have been much better with a proper scritpt and bigger budget. It is no secret that many industrialists had fascist sympathies (kept hidden during the war). That "Black Dragon Society" really existed in Japan.
[Does the interior of that house remind you of some other films?]