High Road to China is a lot of old-fashioned fun, revived for Tom Selleck after his TV schedule kept him from taking the Harrison Ford role in Raiders of the Lost Ark. Ford clearly got the better deal because China just isn’t as tense and exciting.
But it has the same Saturday-matinee spirit, with director Brian G. Hutton nicely mixing a lot of action with a storyline [from a book by Jon Cleary] that never seems as absurd as it is, allowing the two hours to move by very quickly.
Selleck is perfect as a grizzled, boozing biplane pilot whom 1920s flapper Bess Armstrong is forced to hire to help her find her father before he’s declared dead and her inheritance is stolen. Selleck and Armstrong make a cute couple, even though their bantering, slowly developing romance is deliberately predictable throughout.