Written, Directed and Produced by Sam Fuller this starts as a crime movie about the murder of a stripper and gets bogged down in a story about a love triangle and bigotry.
Stripper Sugar Torch heads back to her dressing room after her act. There’s a gunshot. She opens the door and sees a man with a gun. She runs off but is shot down in the street. Detective Sgt.Charlie Bancroft (Glenn Corbett) and his partner Detective Joe Kojaku (James Shigeta) investigate.
Sugar was planning an act where she’d dress as a Geisha. A karate expert and a warrior would fight over her. There’s a painting on the wall of Sugar in a crimson kimono. Thanks to a lead from eccentric alcoholic artist Mac (Anna Lee) Charlie finds Chris Downs (Victoria Shaw). She painted the picture of Sugar. It was the idea of a man named Hansel.
Meanwhile Joe is trying to find karate expert Shuto. He was going to be part of the act. As things progress someone takes a shot at Chris. For her protection she moves into the apartment shared by Charlie and Joe. They’ve been best friends since the Korean War. Charlie falls for Chris.
One night Charlie goes to meet an informant named Ziggy (Walter Burke). He shows him where Hansel is staying. Charlie missed him by ten minutes. Back at the apartment Chris and Joe realize they’re meant to be and the triangle has formed.
The movie concentrates more on that aspect than the murder case. Of course it causes a split between the two best friends. After a Kendo battle where Joe gets too aggressive and knocks Charlie out he ends up telling him about Chris. Charlie gets a look in his eye that Joe misinterprets as bigotry and storms out.
It was interesting how that whole scenario was played and how self doubt and jumping to conclusions can cause numerous and even unsolvable problems. The quick ending takes place at the annual Nisei Festival in L.A.’s Little Tokyo. It tries to be two movies in one and falls flat as it tries to make a point.
Glenn Corbett frequently appeared in TV episodes. He took George Maharis’ place on “Route 66” in the 1963-64 season.
This was James Shigeta’s first movie. He shared a Golden Globe award as best Newcomer with Troy Donahue,Barry Coe and George Hamilton in 1960.
Soap fans know Anna Lee as Lila Quatermaine on “General Hospital.”