High Road To China

High Road to China v

HIGH ROAD TO CHINA —-old-fashioned rousing adventure with few surprises and no subtlety; still decent escapist entertainment. Boorish critics trounced this mercilessly, making comparisons to Raiders Of The Lost Ark and taking out undue spite on Tom Selleck.

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A former air ace takes a spoiled heiress on an action-filled flight into 1920s China to find her father. Stops in Afghanistan and Nepal are thrown in for the exotic hell of it, and the eventual body-count of bandits, warring tribesmen and pursuing killers runs into the hundreds.*

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$20,000,000 gave the 1983 production a rich look in costuming, cinematography, crowd scenes and action, and the aerial sequences are exhilarating. John Barry’s score is pretty enough, but it could have done with a bit more zip-factor.

Bess Armstrong is cute as the snooty and spunky damsel, even though there are times when the character grates a tad. Jack Weston is a kick as usual, but most of the laughs come from Wilford Brimley, who hams like crazy.  Selleck makes a viable hero in the old-style mode, with enough self-kidding to make the outrageous daring easy to swallow.

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No classic this, but action-packed and generally fun, undeserving of the drubbing the pen-Gods heaped on it. Directed by Brian G. Hutton, filmed in Yugoslavia, running 105 minutes. With Robert Morley, Brian Blessed and Cassandra Gava, it barrel-rolled the naysayers and socked $50,000,000 worldwide, #27 for the year.

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  • *Use the p.c. elsewhere, as the mow-down of extras gleefully escalates to such a point at the finale that you’ll either whoop or huff in disgust, depending on your regard for the lives of ‘bad guys’.  I lived with it. The guilt is crippling. “Well, they should’na run…”
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