It's hard to imagine nowadays that someone so innately bitter and cynical as Humphrey Bogart could be a major movie star--but he was, and the movies were richer for it. In Tokyo Joe, Bogart plays an Air Force colonel wh... more »o returns to Tokyo after World War II to reclaim a nightclub he'd had to abandon. When he discovers that his former lover, a Russian refugee, is still alive and now married, he sets out to win her back--but in the process gets drawn into a fraudulent air freight scheme that may endanger the stability of post-war Japan, as well as a child he never knew he had. Tokyo Joe isn't a classic, but when the camera catches the lightning in Bogart's eyes or his calm voice twists into a snarl, it's a powerful jolt. His dark persona makes his virtuous acts all the more compelling. --Bret Fetzer« less
"Life in post war Japan is a theme not often explored in Hollywood film making and that alone gives "Tokyo Joe" an extra element of interest. Often referred to as second-string Bogie effort, the film I feel has much to commend it and it weaves an arresting story of intrigue, corruption and lost love against the background of a Japan just coming back to life after the conclusion of the war. Humphrey Bogart had most of his great roles already behind him by 1949. "Casablanca", "High Sierra", "The Maltese Falcon", "The Treasure Of Sierra Madre" to name a few cemented his name as one of Hollywood's most memorable stars over almost two and half decades of work. This might be a lesser effort than those examples but time had passed and being now a bit older suits Bogie very well in his playing of Joe Barrett, a man returning to Tokyo to reclaim both his pre war saloon/gambling den and to find that his supposedly dead wife is very much alive and holding a couple of dark secrets. Bogie handles both elements of the story, ie the rekindled romance with his wife Trina (Florence Marly), with the exciting second half of the story dealing with high level corruption, kidnapping and people smuggling rings.Upon arriving in Tokyo Bogie finds things have changed greatly since the period prior to WW2. Not only does he discover his wife is still alive and remarried to an Americam Official Mark Landis (Alexander Knox) but that she has a young child who is actually his. His thriving pre war business is impossible to reestablish and he finds himself involved in some shady transportation activities with a prominent Japanese businessman, Baron Kimura (played by the excellent Sessue Hayakawa) who actually is bringing back to life the mysterious fanatical society of the Black Dragon which is intent on smuggling back into Japan convicted war criminials. What develops is Bogie finding himself playing two sides in helping the Americans flush out the terrorists and having to deal with their kidnapping of his daughter as a guarantee that he will cooperate with them. The second half of the film weaves a fairly exciting tale of adventure and suspense which sees Bogie undertake to rescue his daughter from the kidnappers and fight off the Baron where he is shot. The conclusion of the story leaves up in the air Bogie's fate, whether he survives the gunshot wound during his brave rescue bid and reclaims his wife , or whether he dies a hero and allows Trina to continue her affluent life as the wife of an American Official. This ending is quite different to what one can normally expect and it allows us as the audience to make our own conclusion , in a way similiar to th efamous ending of "Gone With The Wind"."Tokyo Joe" which for interest sake was the pre war name of Bogie's establishment, benefits greatly from some interesting on-location photography in Tokyo. While it is obvious that the principal cast never left Columbia Studios in Hollywood the meshing of location footage with the actors scenes is very well done. The major Japanese actors used in the film also bring a very welcome look of authenticity to the story. Veteran actor Sessue Hayakawa is really excellent as the villian of the piece and Teru Shimada who appeared in just about every movie or television show requiring Japanese actors over a 30 year period creates a real impression as Ito, Bogie's best friend and pre-war partner in the running of Tokyo Joe's who pays the ultimate price for getting involved with Bogie in Baron Kimura's schemes. It is good to see at this time in Hollywood that talented Japanese actors were able to get prominent roles in major Hollywood productions such as this.Humphrey Bogart always managed to hold the interest in no matter what movie he was appearing in and while "Tokyo Joe" is certainly not his best remembered film it is a very entertaining film with a good story that serves up equal parts romance, adventure, and suspense. The story is at all times believably played and that's what keeps your interest as the characters are those that are not just Hollywood fiction. Films in general were changing by the beginning of the 1950's and "Tokyo Joe" in a way was one of the first to show the after effects of the war on defeated countries like Japan. Enjoy this exciting tale with the always trenchcoated Bogie in a good performance."
A nest of snakes
Jacques COULARDEAU | OLLIERGUES France | 04/10/2002
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Humphrey Bogart is equal to himself in this tightly devised plot. First a clear situation : Japan after the war under occupation by the Americans who are trying to chase the remnants of a militaristic and fanatical recent past. The Americans come back to Japan too to start some joint ventures with some Japanese. Then a personal situation : Joe had a joint business before the war and he tries to recuperate it and finds out it is impossible though he goes along with his ex-partner in another business that is a lot more shady than it should be. Then a sentimental situation : his ex-girlfriend and wife is married to a big shot in the American embassy or something. She has a daughter and this daughter is Joe's though she had her adopted by her second husband. This daughter was the backmailing tool of the Japanese during the war to force this woman to broadcast propaganda aimed at American forces in the Pacific during the war. But Joe and his new business is used to bring some old militaristic fanatics back to Japan to stir some trouble for the Americans. Joe, as an ex-colonel, has to go along with the allied forces, but his « business associates » kidnap his daughter to force him to do what they want. Then the rest is resistance and heroism, courage and back-fighting. Humphrey Bogart cuts the character quite convincingly and gives us an interesting thriller.Dr Jacques COULARDEAU"
The Other "Casablanca"
Captain Cook | Leeward to the Sandwich Islands | 03/11/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"America's involvement in World War two was bookended by two Humphrey Bogart movies. Going into the War, there's Rick in the classic Casablanca; coming out of the War, there's Joe Barret in Tokyo Joe, but basically they are both the same hard-boiled-with-a-heart-of-gold guy. As if to emphasize this there's a nightclub in each, the Tokyo joint eponymously named "Tokyo Joe's." The movie kicks off in 1948, as Joe Barret comes back after 7 years away to occupied Tokyo to take care of some unfinished business, soon getting into a playful Judo bout with his old friend and nightclub partner, Itoh (Teru Shimada). There's more unfinished business than he reckoned on, however, as he finds out that the beautiful wife he thought was dead is still alive. But this is no Madame Butterfly in reverse. The lady in question is Trina, a White Russian played by an actress with great cheekbones but with none of the smouldering quality of Ingrid Bergman. The writers lay on the twists thick and fast as we discover that Trina is now married to an Occupation bigwig, Mark Landis (Alexander Knox), and she has a kid which is Bogey's. In order to protect Trina from a blackmail scam, Bogey gets sucked into a plot led by the evil Baron Kimura (Sessue Hayakawa) who bears an uncanny resemblance to former Japanese Prime Minister Nakasone. This scheme to revive the Black Dragon organization by smuggling Imperialist leaders back into Japan, is implausibly attributed to the Communists. The climax comes when Bogey's chubby little daughter gets kidnapped and Bogey's Japanese nightclub partner blames himself and commits hari-kiri. "Still covering up for Kimura," Bogey admonishes him as he realises his old buddy won't be helping him with his judo practice anymore. "Don't you understand what guys like that have done for you? For a thousand years they've made suckers out of you. All they've wanted was the gravy and guys like you down on their hands and knees to hand it up to them. You think we're the real enemy because we're occupying Japan. You know why we're doing it? To help the Japanese people stand up on their hind legs, like men and women and have a right to in this world." Anyway, Bogey manages to rescue his daughter taking a bullet in the process. This leads into a noticeably fudged ending. There are two possible ways to look at it. Either Humphrey dies as he is carried away out on the stretcher or he doesn't. The way the camera fades on Trina in the last scene, suggests that Joe has in fact passed on, but this is so vague that it's left open for those people who prefer a happier ending to imagine that he gets better in some unfilmed future after the movie. The first possibility naturally packs more emotional punch - Bogey sacrificing himself once again and conveniently getting out of the way so that Trina can continue her glamorous life with Landis who turns out to be a thoroughly decent chap. But I've seen Bogey take too many knocks in too many movies not to try and imagine the second possibility."
A dispirited star melodrama...
Roberto Frangie | Leon, Gto. Mexico | 01/14/2007
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Bogart is a former nightclub owner who returns to postwar Japan to pick up his life with a wife (Florence Marly) he had deserted, only to find that she had remarried and was the mother of his seven-year-old daughter...
In the ensuing complications, Bogart is placed in a position where he must smuggle some Japanese war criminals back into Japan or his daughter will be killed...
Bogart is much less convincing than in his "Across the Pacific" days, where he was also required to deal with villainous Japanese...
For an actor who had belabored the point that he had been forced to do too many bad films because he had no control over the properties, it is disappointing to see him making extremely bad films now that he did have full control...
Just Bogart being Bogie.
JOHN GODFREY | Milwaukee ,WI USA | 10/25/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"It is middlin'. Neither his best or worst which is to say, damn good. He is Joe, owner of a bar/nightclub, in Tokyo, before the war. During the war he was a bomber pilot, & is back after to reclaim his club. He considers Tokyo his home town, but things have changed. His club is now off limits to Americans. He finds his wife, who he thought was dead, alive & remarried. He had left her in Tokyo a week before Pearl Harbor & couldn't get back, until now. She has a child that is his but is not at all thrilled to see him. She is comfortable with her new, rich American husband. Needing a source of income, Joe becomes the front for a shady Japanese businessman in the air freight business. This is the Bogie we love, rough around the edges, a good guy, but world weary & cynical. As a pilot he is smuggling war criminals back to Japan. He wants out but his partner has evidence that his wife was a war collaborator. Then his child is kidnapped. This movie has a good blend of romance drama & action. He is a hero in the end rescuing his daughter. He is severly wounded, but it's not revealed if he gets his wife back or even if he survives his gunshot wound. A worthy, enjoyable Bogart movie."