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"In "Blood on the Sun," James Cagney plays an expat newspaper editor who discovers Japan's plot for world domination. Made in 1945, the film is a bully piece of wartime propaganda--but it also has surprising depth. It isn't PC, but it's not all stereotype either. There are some real Asians in the film, the plot is a true story, and not all the Japanese are evil. That said, yes, there are a lot of quasi-offensive squinty-eyed caucasians with fake buck teeth in the film, too.
Cagney does a very good job as the editor. A bundle of self-assured energy, as ever, he nonetheless adds depth by trying to speak a bit of Japanese and Mandarin, and by doing some very credible judo. Matter of fact, his judo coach was LAPD's Jack Halloran, who also took a role in this flick and went on to become a regular Hollywood character actor!
The movie is filmed almost entirely in sets at the studio, which is unsurprising. Nevertheless, it looks fairly good. In fact, the "expat bar" set is a faithful reproduction of the Frank Lloyd Wright-designed bar at the old Imperial Hotel in Tokyo!
Cagney was just coming off an Oscar and just out of contract with WB Studios. Here, he and his brother produced, and they did a decent job. In short, the films hold up. Not a major classic, but an exciting potboiler! And as a correction to various reviewers, the film takes place neither in "post-WWII Japan" nor "The 1920's" but in the 30's.
As a personal aside, I served many years as a US diplomat in Communist China--another ruthless east Asian dictatorship. Maybe some other viewers will find the Japanese officials in Blood on the Sun to be too fake, smarmy, and banal. I found them pretty realistic!"
For Cagney fans only
Andrew McCaffrey | Satellite of Love, Maryland | 03/23/2002
(2 out of 5 stars)
"(Please note that of the eight DVD versions of BLOOD ON THE SUN that are currently listed on Amazon.com, I am reviewing the Laserlight "Special Edition" release. That's the one that comes with a documentary on the film career of James Cagney and a goofier-than-thou introduction by Tony Curtis.)To be honest, I didn't find the feature film on this DVD to be all that exciting. The plot is coherent and without any obvious flaws, and the characters have a lot of promise. It just isn't terribly enthralling. There's a fairly good fight sequence near the end, if that sort of thing interests you. Unfortunately, that sort of thing doesn't usually interest me, and nothing leading up to that had given me any emotional investment in either of the factions. James Cagney's acting is quite good, and, as always, he commands quite a presence on the screen. It's unfortunate that he's one of the only interesting things to watch in this film.The picture quality is actually fairly good which is a bonus when you consider how cheap the disc is. The picture is the tiniest bit fuzzy at points, but for the most part it's ahead of many other budget DVDs. The sound quality is certainly acceptable, if not the clearest thing you'll ever hear. If you've already seen and enjoyed this movie and are wondering which DVD version you should buy, know that you could do a lot worse than the Laserlight edition.The included documentary JAMES CAGNEY ON FILM runs 36 minutes long and is a fairly formulaic piece, very similar to the other such programs that Laserlight has included on their DVDs. It's a fairly tame short piece, made up primarily of an uninspired voice-over speaking while the camera pans over numerous black and white publicity shots of Cagney. A few film trailers make up the rest of the action. I didn't know much of anything about James Cagney before, so I found the information to be interesting, albeit a bit dry. I speculate that any real Cagney fans would probably know much, if not everything that this documentary covers.Tony Curtis' introduction here sees the man in one of his most bizarre spots yet. The short, black, leather gloves from his other Laserlight DVD comments are back with a vengeance here, and they help turn what would otherwise be a short, forgettable James Cagney impersonation into good old-fashioned nightmare fuel. He gives a brief history of James Cagney's career that manages to be utterly divergent from the story that the documentary gave. I can only assume that someone held the wrong cue-cards that day.All in all, I didn't care much for this DVD. If you're a huge fan of James Cagney's work, then it might be worth your while to pick up, but if not, I'd recommend trying something else. The documentary isn't bad, but it's not something that makes the disc attractive by itself."
Best DVD Transfer
Ted D. Ledbetter | Kansas | 12/21/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Unfortunately, it's difficult to find a good transfer to DVD for this title. Fortunately, this version of Blood on the Sun is an excellent transfer to DVD! I've seen several other versions of this title and they are terrible quality transfers. This one by Image Entertainment studio is very nice."
Historically Interesting, Carelessly Presented
Ted D. Ledbetter | 08/02/2003
(3 out of 5 stars)
"These comments apply to the edition released by Artisan in July of 2003. Aurally and visually, this version is relatively clear, particularly when one considers its age. However, there are problems with its presentation.
The film is described on its container and on the disc itself as being in black and white. In fact it is colorized, and rather unnaturally so.
Special features are promised by the insert, accessible through the MENU button. In fact, there are none.
Incidentally, there was a version of this on VHS with a time of 98 minutes; this runs 94.
One might hope that Steve Beeks of Artisan will act to insure more care in future offerings."
Hollywood vs The Kodakan
Russ B Little II | Saint Louis, MO United States | 08/18/2001
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This video is a must have item for any long time devotee of the Martial Art of Judo. Not only does it feature Jimmy Cagney in a Dojo during Class, but it also features a "Judo" fight in the climactic good vs evil battle at the end.Sure, the fights scenes are a little hokey by today's standards, the Japanese villians are just Americans with bad makeup, and of course the movie is in Black & White, but this movie is now a permanent part of my Hollywood Judo movie collection. Well actually it's my only Hollywood Judo movie."