The Penalty
(1920)

Rating
3.8/5
Genre
Director
Cast

Blizzard is the criminal overlord of San Francisco's Barbary Coast District. His sociopathic behavior can be traced to his childhood when a severe head trauma went undiagnosed and Dr. Ferris, his attending physician, mistakenly amputates both of his legs. Despite his disabilities, the embittered Blizzard rises in the underworld by sheer ruthlessness and force of will. Although his empire includes prostitution, gambling, drug-dealing, human trafficking, and murder, he is also planning something much larger. Secret Service Head Lichtenstein assigns Rose, his most beautiful and resourceful agent, to infiltrate Blixzzard's gang and discover his plans. She soon becomes his current mistress but becomes ambivalent about informing Lichtenstein of the ganglord's activities as she finds herself falling in love with him. Blizzard finally finds a way to revenge himself on Ferris by insinuating himself with Ferris' beautiful sculptress daughter as a model and ultimately hoping to seduce her. Rose ultimately discovers that Blizzard's master plan encompasses an uprising by the city's large Asian and Eastern European immigrant population, an insurrection that will loot and sack the city, but will she betray the man she now calls "Master?"

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