Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Overlooked Movies: High Road to China

High Road to China has a lot going for it.  Great cast: Tom Selleck, Bess Armstrong, Brian Blessed, Wilford Brimley, Jack Weston, Robert Morley.  Great period setting: 1920s Asia.  Great action in the air (biplanes!) and on the ground. 

Tom Selleck is a crochety WWI flying ace who's hired to help Armstrong locate her father in China before he's declared legally dead.  If that happens, she'll lose her inheritance.  Armstrong's a flapper with a mind of her own.  She's also a flyer, so she and Selleck take off in twin biplanes and get into all sorts of scrapes.  Want to bet they'll fall for each other?  

It all ought to work better than it does.  All the ingredients are there, but it never quite takes off.  The aerial sequences are great.  In fact all the action is.  Armstrong and Selleck look great and their repartee is dandy.  The story's fine.  The pacing is a little off, though.  It wants to be Raiders of the Lost Ark, but it's more Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.  Worth a look, but not essential.

6 comments:

  1. Always like Selleck but this is one I guess I can skip.

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  2. I like it better than the Jones films (but I don't like what I've seen of the Jones films much), but I know what you mean about the Not-Quiteness. In fact, this is something which afflicts most of Selleck's theatrical films, particularly the early ones...a somewhat sketchy, half-hearted quality.

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  3. Greg Daniel8:02 AM

    Both this and Lassister teased with the possibility of Selleck becoming a "new cliffhanger" start along side Harrison Ford. But neither fulfilled their promise. I'll still watch both whenever I come across them, hoping that they turn out to be better than I recall. Still enjoyable but just doesn't come together

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  4. Anonymous8:35 AM

    I have to agree with you, Bill. When we saw this I kept wondering, "why isn't this better? Why don't I really like this?"

    In the end it had to be Selleck. I like him a lot better in the Jesse Stone movies.

    Jeff

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  5. Gerard8:39 AM

    It mostly worked for me as a teen. Planes, machine guns, hot blond, leather jackets, big staged battle scene.

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  6. I enjoy this movie because of Selleck, and of course Bess Armstrong (who is hot in a sort of sassy/cute way) but there's something not quite right there. He did several movies in this period that aren't quite there to make him a "movie star" like Lassiter and Quigley Down Under. It is only when they unleashed "funny Selleck" that he finds his movie voice (Three Men and a Baby; Mr. Baseball).

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