6.3/10
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19 user 11 critic

The Hatchet Man (1932)

Hatchet man is ordered to kill his close friend for the sake of Tong.

Director:

William A. Wellman

Writers:

Achmed Abdullah (play), David Belasco (play) | 1 more credit »
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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Edward G. Robinson ... Wong Low Get
Loretta Young ... Sun Toya San
Dudley Digges ... Nog Hong Fah
Leslie Fenton ... Harry En Hai
Edmund Breese ... Yu Chang
Tully Marshall ... Long Sen Yat
J. Carrol Naish ... Sun Yat Ming (as J. Carroll Naish)
Charles Middleton ... Lip Hop Fat
E. Alyn Warren ... Soo Lat, the Cobbler
Edward Peil Sr. ... Bing Foo (as Eddie Piel)
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Storyline

San Francisco Tong hatchet man Wong must execute his boyhood friend Sun. Sun knew his time was up and wrote out his will just prior to Wong showing up at his door. When Sun realizes Wong is there to kill me he tries to set his friend's mind at ease by telling him he is the beneficiary of all Sun's worldly possessions and convinces Wong to promise to take care of Sun's young daughter, Toya San who Sun has bequeathed to become his wife. Years later, when she becomes of age, she marries Wong, now a powerful figure, though she loves evil Harry. When Wong learns Toya will be happier with Harry he allows them to leave. Still later Wong learns that Harry has been deported and since Toya could not prove she was married to someone else she too was deported to China. When Wong learns of this, he goes after them. Written by Ed Stephan <stephan@cc.wwu.edu>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

Only five living people know his secret in the darkness. He strikes! Swiftly! Silently! He leaves no clues. The sinister messenger of a terrible doom! (Print Ad- Endicott Bulletin, ((Endicott, NY)) 29 April 1932) See more »

Genres:

Crime | Drama

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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

6 February 1932 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Honorable Mr. Wong See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Japanese-born Toshia Mori was up for the Chinese-American role of Sun Toya San, before it went to Loretta Young. Mori later admitted it was the biggest disappointment during the first five years of her career before she was signed as a contract player by Columbia. See more »

Quotes

Harry En Hai: Let's clear out of here and go to New York. What do you say? I'm a big shot in New York. I'll show you the swellest time you've ever had in your life. You weren't made to be an old man's doll, darling. You need somebody like me. Somebody more your own age. Somebody who knows how to - make you happy.
See more »

Connections

Referenced in Public Enemies: The Golden Age of the Gangster Film (2008) See more »

Soundtracks

Poor Butterfly
(uncredited)
Music by Raymond Hubbell
Instrumental played in background during Sun Toya San's birthday
See more »

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User Reviews

 
A Fascinating Tale Of Tradition And Honor
14 December 2017 | by venusboys3See all my reviews

I'm sure everyone has to mention the most obvious thing about this movie, that nearly all the characters are Chinese played by non-chinese actors. But this is no Charlie Chan with silly accents. None of the actors engage in cheap stereotypes. There's nothing here that's anywhere near as embarrassing as Mickey Rooney's Mr. Yunioshi in Breakfast at Tiffany's... or, much more recently, Johnny Depp's version of Tonto in The Lone Ranger. The story itself depicts the Chinese American community in a generally favorable light... despite its focus being on the Tongs of San Francisco's Chinatown. Robinson's Tong assassin is an honorable and admirable man, despite his profession.

So with that out of the way, this was a pretty great story and Robinson's character is complex. He wants to be free of his violent past as an assassin for the Tong, he wants to acclimate to life in the U.S. and be a good citizen... but he's also tied to tradition and sworn oaths. It's was less formulaic than I'd expect, I wasn't quite sure where it was leading till I was 3/4 through it. Seeing as it's pre-code it's not as overtly moralistic as later films. It looks great too. There are some nice sets and costumes and Ms. Young was particularly elegant. It's not a happy story, but it's entertaining and unusual. I'm kind of surprised someone hasn't remade it, with a less controversial cast.


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