“He’s cruel, callous, and brilliant — and the most evil and dangerous man in the world.”
A British detective (Nigel Green) attempts to track down evil Fu Manchu (Christopher Lee), who has kidnapped a scientist (Joachim Fuchsberger) capable of creating a lethal potion from poppy plants.
Response to Peary’s Review:
As Peary notes, this film marked the return of “Sax Rohmer’s diabolical Chinese villain to the screen after a 33-year hiatus” (Boris Karloff last played Fu Manchu in 1932’s The Mask of Fu Manchu). It’s a surprisingly well-made genre flick in many ways, with “believable twenties flavor, fun [if unexceptional] performances by Lee and Green…, and an interesting storyline”. The set designs (full of colorful “chinoiserie” and period artifacts) are vibrant, and the story is appropriately nerve-wracking, given that Manchu and his equally fiendish daughter (played with intense sincerity by Tsai Chin) pose a truly frightening threat to the state of the world — as evidenced in a sequence demonstrating their ability to wipe out an entire town within seconds (the parallels with nuclear devastation are unmistakable). Indeed, Manchu’s ability to literally escape death — he’s “shown” beheaded in the film’s opening sequence, though we quickly learn this was someone else hypnotized to take his place — makes him one of the most frightening earthly villains in cinematic history. Note: Those easily offended by racial stereotypes should definitely stay away, as Manchu and his clan are clearly posited as a “yellow peril”.
Redeeming Qualities and Moments:
- Impressive set designs
- Several exciting sequences
No, but it’s fun fare if you’re in the right mood.