Scene 55: Rather than heading "uptown" to the FBI offices, Dickson leaves the city and is chased into the foothills of Oregon.
Extended Drive-Drive-Chase-Chase scene.
Commentary: But, I'm going to give Bernard B. Ray (oops, I mean Raymond K. Johnson) a little more credit for keeping the camera work dynamic with footage from a chase car, cutting between Dickson's and Carney's vehicles and generally making good use of the outdoors chase scene to show off that it isn't just in a studio with grips shaking the vehicle's bumpers and backprojection.
Although, I have to take points away from our foley-man who feels like we need tires squealing on dirt tracks. No - we really didn't.
Scene 56: After a several minutes long car chase, one of our thugs aims for Dickson's tires and shoots. He manages to hit the gas tank instead, still disabling Dickson's vehicle.
The men are marched out of Marion's disabled car.
Scene 57: And not killed immediately, but marched all the way back to Carney's apartment [Oh, Carney -- you've tarnished our budding love... also, OH BULLSHIT!] where Dickson is questioned about money...??
[Okay - I think I got this. I believe that Dickson slipped Lefty the envelope of money, for reasons stupid, when they were making their escape with Lefty staying behind to maintain his cover until FBI raided. The gangsters catch Jerry and the fleeing 'Gallagher', who they assumed was running his own scam to steal the cash from Carney and disappear. Without finding the money, they've brought them both back in order to get the location of the money out of them. For reasons contrived, they don't just shoot Dickson and Jerry on that long, empty road in the middle of nowhere through their limbs until one of them breaks with the money's location. Carney -- apparently being more petty-greedy than you'd think for a criminal mastermind -- apparently feels that some cash [of which she has more than plenty already] is worth more than simply shooting these two pains in the asses right now and be done with it. Yeah, my budding love for her died.]
She orders Wong to torture Gallagher/Dickson until he's ready to be more cooperative. This involves the bamboo picks under the fingernails gag.
Scene 58: Meanwhile, the FBI have started their raids and are at the Importer. The shop keeper steps on a hidden button that warns the thugs in back that help is required.
Among our raiders are Lefty.
The FBI guys move toward the living quarters, where they're met by Carney's thugs. Brawling and wrestling for guns ensues. This ends with one thug dead, another injured. Lefty tells them they need to get over to Carney's as he begins a sweep of the rest of the building.
Scene 59: Back at Carney's, Wong is applying the bamboo torture to Dickson's nails -- but his body covers our view. At the same time, the elevator approaches the fifth floor.
It's Lefty and his team of two men. He takes Carney's Door Guard at gunpoint while his men ready to raid Carney's apartment.
For some ridiculous reason, Marion was allowed to accompany them.
Scene 60: FBI team barrels into Carney's private apartment. There is more struggling and wrestling for guns.
Meanwhile, in the interior of the apartment [I'm disappointed that Carney didn't have the stomach to watch Dickson's torture], the disruption gives Jerry his chance to punch the Thug with Carney. They also start fighting.
Jerry isn't very good at it though, and forgets about Thug as soon as he's punched away. His focus is on Carney which allows him to get jumped from behind when he tries to stop her from getting a gun in her desk. She dashes off while Jerry continues wrestling with Thug.
She has trouble dashing anywhere in that restricting cheongsam. She is quickly grabbed by Jerry when he's done punching out Thug again.
Meanwhile, in the entrance room, FBI and Other Thugs, including Mugsy continue battling.
Commentary: And the fight coreography here is particularly badly done with punches very clearly not hitting anything but air.
Scene 61: The fighting continues and continues. Wong is punched into Carney's office, where he takes over wrestling with Jerry allowing Carney another break for escape [also Wong, refreshingly, is apparently Kung-Fu-less... he punches like everybody else].
FINALLY, Dickson gets a hand on one of the guns to stop the hand to hand combat. Carney still failed to get out of the apartment in the chaos.
Commentary: The fight scene really would've been energetic and exciting if it wasn't for how it was done. The guys looked like they were cat-fighting, more than the brawling when they weren't actually hitting and responding to air. It's a shame.
Scene 62: Carney now turns back into business woman, convinced that Gallagher is still a gangster and that he's muscling in on her territory. She's willing to talk terms that will allow them both to continue to make healthy profits.
She's quickly filled in on the fact that they really are FBI and she really is sunk. His boss mentions that there was talk about Dickson taking over West Coast Command if he could break this case. He says Ralph should stay. Dickson goes to flip a coin to decide, but Marion has arrived and snatches his lucky quarter from the air. She grins that it says he should stay.
They flirt... (ugh, no, please stop).
The Good: I liked Evelyn Brent as Carney, especially her facial expressions and particularly when she shows "Gallagher" that she'd unloaded his gun before giving it back to him.
I really liked the cold open and was intrigued to start.
The Bad: This script is awful. People don't act like they logically would with the information that they have, it's confusing whether they know what we assume they know because they're acting so wrongly, but then it turns out that they did know and the plot really was that confused. This more like a series of scenes that are only loosely connected to a greater plot rather than actual, sensible, linear storytelling... and it clearly wasn't filmed that way as a deliberate, artistic choice.
Which brings us to the director: Most of the scenes are staid which wouldn't ordinarily go in the bad but it's also the director's job to keep the story clear, identify the players plainly for us, and keep the plot engaging enough that even if the audience doesn't know what exactly is happening, we can still see the plot in front of us. Too much of this is a mess.
Another problem was the number of characters with recurring roles but seemingly no names. Since they're all white men in dark suits, it was hard to keep track or assign names to the ones who should've been known as more than "Thug", "Other Thug", etc. The same goes for the FBI agents overseeing Dickson's mission.
Other Thoughts: The pacing is a bit strange on this one. It starts off fine and stays okay throughout most of the picture, but just as things start to wrap up, everything starts to get stretched out. And we have 62 scene changes which is too many for a picture that is less than an hour long... especially when many of the scenes didn't really add anything to the story telling. But I wasn't exactly bored, though I was mightily confused through so much of it.
Since I put directing in the bad, I did want to acknowlege that there are a few scenes that really worked, directing wise and these are mentioned in commentary. I just wish that the overall plot wasn't so muddled into a confusing pile-up.
One of the unfortunate things in regards to the characters is how little they gave Carney to actually do. I would've much rather that she'd had more of a central role in manipulating and controlling things from her suite than what we get. This is especially true because while being influenced by a love for Asian culture, it's clear Carney [just look at her name] isn't actually Asian/Caucasian-Actress-Playing-Asian. It would've been fascinating to see why the Asian members of her organization are following her.
I had a real problem with Grant Withers, who simply did not carry himself as a hardened criminal or as somebody trying to carry himself off as a hardened criminal. He spends the whole film goofily grinning -- it's a wonder he wasn't found out long before the end.
I was disappointed that Mr. Wong didn't have a greater role in the story. The focus on Richard Loo made it seem like he'd be a more important character than he actually was.
The Score: The story, for what it was, started out as interesting but quickly went downhill. The plotting is SO sloppy and badly written that it becomes actively annoying. And while there are a few touches in the direction that made a scene or three nice to watch, mostly it had a flat, television quality to it [before TV]. It just doesn't seem like a film made for the big screen, at all. But really, it's the plotting and the constant illogic of it all that really shot this movie in the foot and kept me from ever getting involved in it, once I started asking questions with no answers.
2.0 out of 5 stars