Sat 20 Apr 2013
THE VENGEANCE OF FU MANCHU. Anglo-Amalgamated Films, UK, 1967. Christopher Lee (Dr. Fu Manchu), Douglas Wilmer (Nayland Smith), Tsai Chin, Horst Frank, Wolfgang Kieling, Maria Rohm, Howard Marion-Crawford (Dr. Petrie). Based on the characters created by Sax Rohmer. Screenwriter (as Peter Welbeck) and producer: Harry Alan Towers. Director: Jeremy Summers.
Christopher Lee spent half his career playing Fu Manchu, a role he was born to play, or does it only seem that way? This is the third of a series of five that came out in quick succession in the 60s, the others being:
The Brides of Fu Manchu (1966).
The Vengeance of Fu Manchu (1967).
The Blood of Fu Manchu (1968).
The Castle of Fu Manchu (1969).
I don’t know why I started watching this list of movies in the middle, but I did. And after watching this one, I really don’t know if I’ll watch the other four. It’s really that bad. Not bad in any sense that’s interesting, but just bad.
I suppose I ought to explain myself. When I watch a movie, I really would prefer that it make sense. I really kind of resent it when there are a lot of scenes that have no connection with the rest of the story, scenes that are there only to lengthen the running time of the movie and no other reason, and when a movie has a non-existent plot that also has holes in it, you really know you have one dud of a movie.
Christopher Lee really ought to have been ashamed to have taken money for this one. His only role in the film is to step out of the interior of his palace, squint into the light a few times, with an engagingly enigmatic expression on his face, and let his daughter (played by Tsai Chin with suitably impressive imperiousness, not to mention an equally suitable innate wickedness) have all of the fun. (Tsai Chin is still active in making films today.)
There is torture in this film, a beheading, lots of really phoney-looking sword and spear play, but not one hint of sex. What’s up with that? There is one very funny subplot of the movie, which is where the vengeance comes in, in which Fu Manchu manages to replace Nayland Smith by a surgically altered and waxen-faced lookalike who then commits a murder “Smith” is hanged for. Ha, ha!
That the British judicial system would fall for such nonsense is a pure comedy delight, one that I can almost recommend that you see for yourself, but I can’t, for if I did, you’d never believe another review I ever wrote again. And we can’t have that, can we?