Blood On The Sun

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Blood on the Sun


English   Country: USA   Year: 1945

Blood on the Sun


Frank Lloyd


James Cagney; Sylvia Sydney; Porter Hall; John Emery




An American newspaperman in Tokyo runs afoul of the Imperialist Japanese government. The authorities believe he has valuable information and target him for some friendly persuasion. Based on a true story. Black & White.


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User Reviews


(Average=3.42 out of 5; Total Number=12)

America Will Be Crushed, Never To Rise Again (rating=3)

Based on a true story, BLOOD ON THE SUN is an entertaining little stewpot of a movie.
James Cagney plays Nick Condon, managing editor of the Tokyo Chronicle. It's 1920-something and the United States and Japan share an uneasy peace. That peace threatens to be broken violently when the "Tanaka Plan," a Japanese government document outlining a blueprint for world domination, falls into Condon's possession. Condon has to get the document out of Japan and announce its contents to the world, the Japanese have to stop him.
When I first saw BLOOD ON THE SUN I shrugged it off as a piece of late-war propaganda. There ARE a lot of stereotypical portrayals and attitudes coursing through this one- the Japanese are portrayed for the most part as buck toothed, diabolical schemers. Cagney is attacked from behind twice in this movie. The officials present trumped up charges in their attempt to stop his muck-raking ways. The outrageousness of a foreign correspondent stealing and threatening to publish a secret state paper seems lost on this movie. Then I did a computer search of "Tanaka Memorial" and had a chance to read the document in question. If it's not a forgery (the Japanese government claimed it was), it dwarfs the movie's presumptions. As a side note, the web site I visited informs us that the Chinese, and not a crusading American editor, originally released the document.
As usual, Cagney is a bundle of energy and is great fun to watch. I've read that he took judo classes in preparation for this part, and it seems he's doing a lot of his own stunt work. Sylvia Sydney plays Iris Hilliard, Cagney's love interest and someone interested in the document as well. Soon after her character is introduced we learn she is half-Chinese, which should alert us to the fact that she isn't quite as sinister as she appears. The Chinese were our allies during to the war. They were the good Asians. Another fun character in this one is Capt. Oshima (John Halloran), one of many Caucasian actors partially hidden behind false teeth and taped eyelids. Oshima is a menacing, murderous, towering brute of a cop. Symbolically he's the first to attack the American Cagney with a karate chop from behind, a blow that knocks Cagney out. Later, when the gloves are off and the two square off against each other in a fair fight the results are decidedly different.
Wiard Ihnen&A. Roland Fields won a little statuette for Best Art Direction for their work on BLOOD ON THE SUN. The sets do look pretty good.
BLOOD ON THE SUN is in the public domain, so anyone can copy and sell it. If you get the Delta version be warned that their logo will appear periodically in the lower-right hand corner. They've included a short documentary (still photos with a voice over narration- yawn) and an intro and outro by Tony Curtis. Unforgivably, Curtis tells us in the intro that Cagney plays a newspaperman "right after World War Two." It may seem a minor point, but couldn't somebody on the set have reminded him that the movie took place after World War One?

Overlooked Cagney Gem (rating=4)

Blood on the Sun is a rousing post war film, a true product of its time. One minor fault with the movie is that it takes place in the 1930's, and everyone is wearing post war fashions. The supporting cast has a few surprises, Hugh Beaumont(Ward Cleaver) and Robert Armstrong (King Kong) as Col. Tojo. Sylvia Sydney is very alluring as Ms. Hilliard, she brings a sophistication to the movie that is usually absent in a Cagney thriller. The climactic battle with Oshima has been described in other reviews here as corny and outdated, but I think they have missed the mark. Judo is a sport, and is not Jujitsu, Judo is mostly throws and locks which the combatants in this movie do quite well. It may not be flashy like todays martial arts, but that is the stuff that I think is corny, defying gravity, impossible moves, and so on. when the battles seem believable, then it is more exciting, Bruce Lee for instance, I think there is no doubt that he could have executed all the moves in his movies in a street fight. That is one of the reasons he will always be the remembered as the best. Another interesting point, the actor who plays Oshima (Jack Halloran) was a LA cop and a master of Judo, Cagney was his student and became a black belt, hollywood's first! Cagney would go on to showcase more martial arts in the movies 13 Rue Madelaine, and White Heat, where he uses a forward choke on Virginia Mayo.

For Cagney Fans Only (rating=2)

(Please note that of the eight DVD versions of BLOOD ON THE SUN that are currently listed on, I am reviewing the Laserlight "Special Edition" release. That's the one that comes with a documentary on the film career of James Cagney and a goofier-than-thou introduction by Tony Curtis.)

To be honest, I didn't find the feature film on this DVD to be all that exciting. The plot is coherent and without any obvious flaws, and the characters have a lot of promise. It just isn't terribly enthralling. There's a fairly good fight sequence near the end, if that sort of thing interests you. Unfortunately, that sort of thing doesn't usually interest me, and nothing leading up to that had given me any emotional investment in either of the factions. James Cagney's acting is quite good, and, as always, he commands quite a presence on the screen. It's unfortunate that he's one of the only interesting things to watch in this film.

The picture quality is actually fairly good which is a bonus when you consider how cheap the disc is. The picture is the tiniest bit fuzzy at points, but for the most part it's ahead of many other budget DVDs. The sound quality is certainly acceptable, if not the clearest thing you'll ever hear. If you've already seen and enjoyed this movie and are wondering which DVD version you should buy, know that you could do a lot worse than the Laserlight edition.

The included documentary JAMES CAGNEY ON FILM runs 36 minutes long and is a fairly formulaic piece, very similar to the other such programs that Laserlight has included on their DVDs. It's a fairly tame short piece, made up primarily of an uninspired voice-over speaking while the camera pans over numerous black and white publicity shots of Cagney. A few film trailers make up the rest of the action. I didn't know much of anything about James Cagney before, so I found the information to be interesting, albeit a bit dry. I speculate that any real Cagney fans would probably know much, if not everything that this documentary covers.

Tony Curtis' introduction here sees the man in one of his most bizarre spots yet. The short, black, leather gloves from his other Laserlight DVD comments are back with a vengeance here, and they help turn what would otherwise be a short, forgettable James Cagney impersonation into good old-fashioned nightmare fuel. He gives a brief history of James Cagney's career that manages to be utterly divergent from the story that the documentary gave. I can only assume that someone held the wrong cue-cards that day.

All in all, I didn't care much for this DVD. If you're a huge fan of James Cagney's work, then it might be worth your while to pick up, but if not, I'd recommend trying something else. The documentary isn't bad, but it's not something that makes the disc attractive by itself.


Cagney is a crusading newspaper editor in 1930s Japan who's come into possession of the "Tanaka Plan" for world domination. Amidst political intrigue and crossed loyalties, Cagney must now find a way to warn the outside world. A fine, entertaining melodrama that's based in fact, with Cagney as good as ever, but this time with judo chops. If only the Japanese knew some kind of hand-to-hand combat, they might be able to stand a chance against Cagney. Dated only by its condescension toward the Japanese,Blood on the Sun never slacks its pace, providing quick-witted patter all along in the mark of the classic Hollywood style. It seems peculiarly American (in an inadvertent way, of course) that in the film's final moments the day should be saved by none other than Ward Cleaver (Hugh Beaumont). Curiously, this is one DVD from Master Movies that does not contain optional Japanese subtitles. It does, however, have copious bios of the stars and filmmakers, and a crystal-clear picture.--Jim Gay