Grisly strangulations in London alert Nayland Smith of Scotland Yard to the possibility that fiendish Fu Manchu may not after all be dead, even though Smith witnessed his execution. A ... See full summary »
Grisly strangulations in London alert Nayland Smith of Scotland Yard to the possibility that fiendish Fu Manchu may not after all be dead, even though Smith witnessed his execution. A killer spray made from Tibetan berries seems to be involved and clues keep leading back to the Thames. Written by
Jeremy Perkins <email@example.com>
Near the end of the movie when Smith and Janssen rescue Prof. Muller and set up the bomb they capture Lin Tang, tie her up and gag her. Lin Tang is seen in the following making a great show of struggling against her bonds and even falling behind the bed, so that the guards did not find her when they looked into the room, so she couldn't alert them. So far the story, but looking at the way Lin Tang was tied up she would have been able to remove the gag every time she wanted to and cry out for help. See more »
In the light of its considerable reputation, this is a big disappointment. It's the old tale of Fu Manchu, the Yellow Peril, trying to take over the world. The racism of this is so self-evident it's probably not worth mentioning, although the blazing red whenever the Chinese are around, and the worker-like garb of Manchu's henchmen, suggest some sort of allegory of Communism - or is this story of a megalomaniacal, world-domination-lusting, Chinaman a parody of such portentousness?
I really wanted to like this film, but there's so much wrong with it. It's been called a spoof, but if so, the joke's on me. The 1920s setting is somewhat rudimentary - a few contemporary cars and hats in what looks like a very 1960s London (although the reviewer below suggests it is in fact Dublin). Far from camp, the plot is played so straight as to be unenjoyable. Every absurdity and implausibility, rather than hurtling us into the giddy realms of fantasy, rather lumbers us in a plot of cliched hackery.
The acting is abysmal - I've never gotten the point of Christopher Lee (he never had Peter Cushing's middle-aged anguish), although his plummy English tones in the supposed role of a fiendish Chinaman, offers some amusement, as does his daft moustache; worst of all is Nigel Green as the oaklike hero, Nayland Smith - a man so unexpressive and graceless should be funny, but here is dull, slowing down the film at every turn. Only FU Manchu's very sexy daughter, Tsai Chin, enthralls, her subservience to her father suggesting perverse depths of sado-masochism.
This is all the more frustrating in that the film has merit in abundance. The colour schemes, costumes, set-designs and compositions are frequently gorgeous, if sometimes let down by leaden direction; the afoementioned incestuous undertones in the relationship between Fu and daughter; a splendid ironising, despite the racism, of the noble West - Nayland Smith is quite clearly insane, and with his Chinese ladyservant, and death mask ornaments, seems more of a mirror image than a foil for Fu Manchu (there is also something wrong with chemists that research into a concoction that can wipe out whole peoples - there is a RIVER KWAI-like frisson in the plight of the Professor who ironically, and enthusiastically, aids his captor); there is a splendidly directed and designed car chase, reminiscent, as Tom Milne notes, of silent serials.
Best of all is the setting of this grotesque potboiler in placid England. This discrepancy gives the film an AVENGERS-like chill on occasion, especially the amazing scene where Fu Manchu first exercises his power, and wipes out an entire village - spinetingling, chilling, and much more frightening than a similar scene in GOLDFINGER.
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