Written by: Michael Den Boer on July 9th, 2017
Theatrical Release Dates: Spain / West Germany / UK / USA, 1968 (The Blood of Fu Manchu), West Germany / Italy / Spain / UK / Liechtenstein, 1969 (The Castle of Fu Manchu)
Director: Jess Franco (Both Films)
Writer: Harry Alan Towers (Both Films)
Cast: Christopher Lee, Richard Greene, Howard Marion-Crawford, Götz George, Maria Rohm, Ricardo Palacios, Loni von Friedl, Frances Khan, Tsai Chin, Isaura de Oliveira, Shirley Eaton (The Blood of Fu Manchu), Shirley Eaton, Richard Wyler, George Sanders, Maria Rohm, Marta Reves, Elisa Montés, Walter Rilla, Beni Cardoso, Herbert Fleischmann (The Castle of Fu Manchu)
BluRay released: May 30th, 2017
Approximate running times: 94 minutes (The Blood of Fu Manchu), 94 minutes (The Castle of Fu Manchu)
Aspect Ratio: 1.66:1 Widescreen / 1080 Progressive / MPEG-4 AVC (The Blood of Fu Manchu / The Castle of Fu Manchu)
Sound: DTS-HD Mono English (Both Films)
Subtitles: English SDH (Both Films)
BluRay Release: Blue Underground
Region Coding: Region Free
Retail Price: $29.98
Sax Rohmer‘s Fu Manchu is a popular fictional character that has been adapted for radio, television and film. Fu Manchu made its film debut in a pair of British serials made in 1923 The Mystery of Dr. Fu Manchu and 1924 The Further Mysteries of Fu Manchu. The first feature film adaptation would not come tell 1929 when Warner Oland would take on the role of the fiendish Dr. Fu Manchu in the film The Mysterious Dr. Fu Manchu.
In the 1960’s Producer Harry Alan Towers would produce five Fu Manchu films, The Face of Fu Manchu, The Brides of Fu Manchu, The Vengeance of Fu Manchu, The Blood of Fu Manchu and The Castle of Fu Manchu, all films starring Christopher Lee in the icon role of Fu Manchu.
Harry Alan Towers would also produce several others films featuring characters created by Sax Rohmer like The Million Eyes of Sumuru and The Girl from Rio. And besides working as a producer, Harry Alan Towers was a prolific writer he wrote the screenplays many of the films that he produced under the pseudonym Peter Welbeck.
The Castle of Fu Manchu: Fu Manchu creates a chemical weapon that can freeze all of oceans of the world.
There had been three films directed by two other directors before Jess Franco put his imprint on a series of Fu Manchu films produced by Harry Allan Towers. Out of the two films that were directed by Jess Franco, The Blood of Fu Manchu is the more structured of the two and this may be due to this being the first Jess Franco / Harry Alan Towers production. With the fifth and final film in the series, The Castle of Fu Manchu being more representative of the mishmash nature of many of Jess Franco’s films made during the late 1960’s and early 1970’s.
And though there are many flourishes in both of these films that are undeniable Jess Franco. These two films also retain a Pulp cinema vibe that was prevalent in the previous three films. And performance wise when discussing these two films one must not look further then Christopher Lee (The Wicker Man) in the role of Fu Manchu. His performance has just the right amount of gravitas and menace. Other performances of note include, Tsai Chin (You Only Live Twice) in the role of Lin Tang, the daughter of Fu Manchu and Maria Rohm (Venus in Furs) delivers another enchanting performance in The Castle of Fu Manchu.
The Blood of Fu Manchu and The Castle of Fu Manchu are presented on a 50 GB dual layer BluRay. And both films are presented in a 1080 progressive widescreen. There is a waxiness to the image and other issues related to DNR. And when compared to the transfers for Blue Underground’s other Jess Franco Blu-ray release, the transfer for this Fu Manchu double feature is their weakest transfer to date.
Each film comes with one audio option, a DTS-HD mono mix in English and removable English SDH subtitles have been included for both films. Both audio mixes sound, clean, dialog comes through clearly and everything sounds balanced.
Extras for The Blood of Fu Manchu include, the U.S. trailer for the film (1 minute 41 seconds), the international trailer for the film (3 minutes), a poster & still gallery and a featurette titled The Rise of Fu Manchu (15 minutes 3 seconds, in English and French with English subtitles).
The extra titled The Rise of Fu Manchu includes comments from director Jess Franco, producer / screenwriter Harry Alan Towers, actors Christopher Lee, Tsai Chin and Shirley Eaton. Topics discussed in this extra include, authors Sax Rohmer and Edgar Wallace, their thoughts on the plot and the characters, onset memories and their thoughts about the Fu Manchu films.
Extras for The Castle of Fu Manchu include, a trailer for the film (2 minutes 26 seconds), a poster & still gallery and a featurette titled The Fall of Fu Manchu (14 minutes, in English and French with English subtitles).
The extra titled The Fall of Fu Manchu includes comments from director Jess Franco, producer / screenwriter Harry Alan Towers, actors Christopher Lee and Tsai Chin. Topics discussed in this extra include, the origins of Jess Franco and Harry Alan Towers collaboration, working with Jess Franco and Jess Franco’s thoughts about Christopher Lee.
Overall Jess Franco’s Fu Manchu films make their way to Blu-ray via lackluster transfers from Blue Underground.