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Mr Moto (Peter Lorre) has travelled to China to retrieve one of the
scrolls of Genghis Khan, which was stolen from his friend Prince Chung
(Philip Ahn), and before he knows it, he has a murder on his hands, and
what's worse, he was the killer, saving Prince Chung from ruthless
collector Tchernov (Sig Ruman).
Somehow, Moto gets his hands on the
scroll, but now he has become the target of ruthless thief and adventurer
Koerger (Sidney Blackmer) and his partner in crime (and love) Mrs Thernov
(Nedda Harrigan), and the two and their accomplices make countless
attempts to steal the scroll, until Moto lets them steal a fake scroll.
you may ask, is the scroll of Genghis Khan all that priceless though?
when it's combined with the other six scrolls of Genghis Khan, it leads to
the man's burial place where his treasure can be found as well - according
to legend. The other six scrolls are still in the possession of Prince
Chung, and thus Koerger and company ruthlessly torture and murder him and
his mother (Pauline Frederick) before Moto can intervene, then thy take
his companions Tom (Thomas Beck) and Eleanor (Jayne Regan) captive and
travel by boat to where they think the treasure to be. They also think
they have killed Moto, which makes it all the easier for him to enter
their boat and scare the crew who thinks he's a ghost shitless. Then he
pretends to strike a deal with Koerger and Mrs Tchernov, but actually he
plays them against each other, until he has her think Koerger has an
affair with Eleanor ... and when they get into a fight amongst themselves,
it's easy for Moto to win the upper hand, and before you know it all the
baddies but Mrs Tchernov are killed ... and Moto burns the scrolls that
have caused so much pain to everyone involved.
whodunnit-adventure that at least portrays Mr Moto in a rather ambivalent
light for the most part, a cold-blooded killer even, and thus gives Peter
Lorre at least the occasional opportunity to shine, but other than that,
there isn't too much to recommend this film. however, there are worse ways
to kill 70 minutes.