Uninspired, Forced

I like the way Tokyo Joe starts - Joe Barrett, played by Humphrey Bogart, enters post-war Japan to check on the nightclub he fled when the war started. The business is fine, left in the good hands of his friend Ito. Joe forces Ito into a judo fight - one of the best scenes in the movie - to get him to warm up after Joe's long absence.

We soon learn that the nightclub is less important to Joe as his wife, Trina, a white Russian he left behind when he fled. He finds her only to learn she has divorced him and has remarried to a prominant local official, Mark Landis. Joe sees that attending to his "personal business" will take longer than his visa allows and starts a flight cargo business with a local criminal figure. Then Joe learns even more to keep him around - Trina's daughter Anya is his, not Landis'. The movie wraps up in a forced ending, driven by the criminal element rather than character.

Bogart's ability to play characters of ambiguous morality fails here, partly from the script, but the performance feels uninspired as well.

The key pieces on which the plot turns have little to do with the story. There are some definite wrong choices made toward the end of the film as well, as the script maneuvers for the kinds of confrontations it wants rather than dealing with each inconvenient thread that comes up. Evening the ending sequence can't follow through on its idea. If you are looking for an old Bogart picture, there are better choices than this.

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