|Film Title: The Castle of Fu Manchu||Year Released: 1969|
|Reviewed By: Douglas Alan Waltz|
|Movie Website: Click Here|
|Overall Stars: ***||Overall DVD: ****||Scare Factor: **|
Being a big Sax Rohmer fan and a huge Jess Franco aficionado, this is basically the film equivalent of really good crack. Fu Manchu (Christopher Lee) is back with an insidious plan to freeze the oceans of the world. Only in a Jess Franco film would this require huge quantities of opium. Only Nayland Smith (Richard Greene) can stop the madman from his ultimate goal.
This is the final performance of Fu Manchu by Christopher Lee. He brings a quiet elegance to the titular character. Aided by Tsai Chin playing his daughter again, Fu Manchu is ruthless in achieving his goal of world domination.
One of my biggest complaints with this particular incarnation of the Fu Manchu series is Howard Marion Crawford as Dr. Petrie, Nayland Smith’s sidekick. In the series of novels by Rohmer the good doctor is much younger and very intelligent. In the films he is just portrayed as a buffoon. Of course, his witty repartee with Jess Franco as a police officer in Istanbul is very funny. The two looked like they were having a great time driving one another crazy. It’s also sad to note that Crawford took his own life with an overdose of sleeping pills the very same year.
I am also not very fond of Tsai Chin as Lin Tang. She’s just not all that good looking and has a sleepy eye to boot. I always imagined Fu Manchu’s daughter as an exquisite thing of beauty.
A true stand out for me in the cast was the vivacious Rosalba Neri. Having already cut her teeth in Franco fare like 99 Women and Justine, she brings an exotic beauty to the proceedings and adds to the international flavor of the film.
With the huge flux of Franco films hitting the market today it’s nice to see him at the top of his game. He crafts a well done action/espionage flick with a fabulous cast. But, it’s still a Franco film. From the numerous shots of boats on the water to repeated uses of the color red, these little signatures put the Franco stamp squarely on the film.
As for the DVD, once again Blue Underground is showing how much they want all of my money. We get the standard poster and still gallery and trailer for the film, but Blue Underground wants to make sure we get our money’s worth. There are interviews with Jess Franco, Harry Alan Towers, Christopher Lee and Tsai Chin. In addition to that there are Talent Bios, The Facts Of Dr. Fu Manchu and very well written liner notes by Video Watchdog creator Tim Lucas.
Currently, this disc is being offered as a Fu Manchu ‘two-fer’ with the incredible Blood Of Fu Manchu, another Franco film with a lot of the same cast. A very affordable way to dive into the rich history of the villainous Fu Manchu.
-Douglas Alan Waltz
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