One of the many low-budget genre films made in the 1958-61 period by the team of director Edward L. Cahn and producer Robert E. Kent, HONG KONG CONFIDENTIAL was an amazing creation, perhaps the ultimate B-movie, bottom of the bill programmer. It’s now available on DVD and via Netflix, so perhaps it’s a good time to re-visit my 2002 review of it:
HONG KONG CONFIDENTIAL
US 1958, director Edward L. Cahn, starring Gene Barry, rating 8/10
GENE BARRY AS LOUNGE-SINGING COLD WAR SPY!
Those who like hard-boiled cold-war spy films, especially those made on a super-low budget, should love this 1958 classic, which features Gene Barry as a US intelligence agent whose “cover” is that of a mediocre lounge singer! Barry’s character is intentionally smarmy and funny, and he contrasts well with the hard-boiled spy action, set in backlot versions of Hong Kong and Macao, with a lot of tight shots of characters standing in front of Asian-looking signs and sections of buildings, often only six or eight feet wide. And of course, an alley is an alley and a warehouse is a warehouse, whether it be in Macao or Atlanta. Put a few Asian details in a dark alley, have a few Asian characters, and voila, you’ve got a film set in the Orient! Like many 1950s spy/crime films, this features a hard-boiled dragnet-esque narration telling you things you just observed on the screen (as well as events they can’t afford to film). Still, they don’t make films like this anymore, and clearly the filmmakers (and Mr. Barry, who is brilliant in the part!)were “in on the joke” so HONG KONG CONFIDENTIAL should appeal to fans of films such as RED ZONE CUBA, ROCKET ATTACK USA, INVASION USA, and OPERATION CIA. As always, director Edward Cahn is a master of pacing. Highly recommended!