Bonds of Honor (1919)

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In this picture, Sessue Hayakawa was able to break out of the stereotypical valet parts that were so often given him in the 'teens. He shines in a dual role, playing twin brothers. One of them, Yamashiro is serious and hardworking, while the other, Sadao, is a playboy. There is a girl, Toko-Ku, who loves them both, but really prefers the bad boy. Sadao encounters Paul Berkowitz (Herschell Mayall) in a gambling den and borrows far more money from him than he can ever pay back. Berkowitz, an agent for the German government, promises to erase the debt if Sadao steals secret plans which are in the possession of the boy's father (Toyo Fujita). Yamashiro and the father catch Sadao after he has already done the nefarious deed and are horrified at the disgrace he has brought on the family. But instead of committing hari-kari, as is expected of him, Sadao runs away to Russia. TokoKu goes to him, but finding him drunken and dissolute, calls on Yamashiro. Yamashiro takes his brother's place and captures the spies. Now Sadao's sense of honor comes into play and he finally kills himself. As if to highlight the sorry state of minority casting in those days, much was made of the fact that several of the Asian roles in this picture were played by actual Japanese actors.