Written by: Michael Den Boer on July 2nd, 2008
Theatrical Release Dates: UK, 1965, 1966, 1967 (The Face of Fu Manchu, The Brides of Fu Manchu, The Vengeance of Fu Manchu)
Directors: Don Sharp (The Face of Fu Manchu, The Brides of Fu Manchu), Jeremy Summers (The Vengeance of Fu Manchu)
Writers: Harry Alan Towers (All Three Films), Don Sharp (The Brides of Fu Manchu)
Cast: Christopher Lee, Tsai Chin, Nigel Green, Joachim Fuchsberger, James Robertson Justice, Karin Dor, Douglas Wilmer, Tony Ferrer, Wolfgang Kieling, Horst Frank, Tsai Chin, Maria Rohm, Rupert Davies, Heinz Drache, Marie Versini, Howard Marion-Crawford, Burt Kwouk
DVD released: October 27th, 2003
Approximate running time: 92 minutes (The Face of Fu Manchu), 90 minutes (The Brides of Fu Manchu), 88 minutes (The Vengeance of Fu Manchu)
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1 Anamorphic Widescreen (The Face of Fu Manchu), 1.85:1 Anamorphic Widescreen (The Brides of Fu Manchu, The Vengeance of Fu Manchu)
Sound: Dolby Digital Mono English (All Films)
DVD Release: Momentum
Region Coding: Region 2 PAL (UK)
Retail Price: $34.95
The Face of Fu Manchu: After faking his own death Fu Manchu returns with his latest scheme to conquer the world. Fu Manchu has discovered that a rare poisonous berry found only in Tibet can be used to a make a chemical that will kill every man, woman and child on Earth. In ordered to complete his goal Fu Manchu abducts a world renowned chemist who he blackmails into helping him with his fiendish plot. Nayland Smith A detective from Scotland Yard who captured Fu Manchu once before has been given the dubious task of putting an end to Fu Manchu’s reign of terror once and for all.
The Brides of Fu Manchu: After narrowly escaping death Fu Manchu reemerges once again with a new diabolical scheme. This time around Fu Manchu kidnaps the daughters’ of prominent scientist who are forced to help design a power laser that can destroy a whole cities instantly. Once again Scotland Yard detective Nayland Smith is given the task of tracking down Fu Manchu and putting an end to his quest for world domination.
The Vengeance of Fu Manchu: Fu Manchu irritated by Scotland Yard detective Nayland Smith’s constant interfering with his plans of world domination comes up with the perfect plan eliminate his enemy once and for all. Fu Manchu abducts a plastic surgeon who he has who is blackmailed into making another man look like Nayland Smith. Once the operation is completed Fu Manchu’s double steps in for Nayland Smith who is abducted by Fu Manchu’s henchmen. Nayland Smith is framed for murder when his body double kills his housekeeper.
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.
Don Sharp directed the first two films The Face of Fu Manchu and The Brides of Fu Manchu. Sharp’s direction is very even handed and at times stylish. He takes full advantage of his locations especially the UK based locations. The third film The Vengeance of Fu Manchu would see a change in the director’s chair with Jeremy Summers (Five Golden Dragons) taking over for Don Sharp. Visually Jeremy Summers does a solid job directing the third film that keeps with the style already established by Don Sharp.
The plots for The Face of Fu Manchu, The Brides of Fu Manchu and The Vengeance of Fu Manchu are all very similar. Each film centers’ around Fu Manchu quest to conquer the world and Nayland Smith the Scotland Yard detective who always foils Fu Manchu plans. Despite the similarities and simplistic nature of the plots this never takes away from ones enjoyment of these films. The level of violence would increase as the series progressed. The Vengeance of Fu Manchu features one of the more inventive and interesting plots of this series. In this film Fu Manchu’s main focus is more on eliminating Nayland Smith while taking over the world is only secondary.
These three Fu Manchu films have a pulp sensibility about them that is never to vulgar or sexual that they can’t be enjoyed by film-goers of all ages. Unlike the latter two Fu Manchu films The Blood of Fu Manchu and The Castle of Fu Manchu directed by Jess Franco which pushes the series with it’s more mature content. The most fun of these three films is The Brides of Fu Manchu while The Vengeance of Fu Manchu is the darkest of the three. Fu Manchu in these films likes to Torture his enemies and those who defy him. These torture scenes are very tame and they even look outdated when they were first made. If these films were made in the 1940’s instead of the 1960’s than the torture scenes would make more sense.
The performances of Christopher Lee as Fu Manchu and Tsai Chin as Fu Manchu’s daughter Lin Tang are the most memorable parts of these films. In the first film the role of Nayland Smith is played by Nigel Green. In the next two films The Brides of Fu Manchu and The Vengeance of Fu Manchu, Douglas Wilmer would take over the role of Nayland Smith. Douglas Wilmer’s portrayal of the Nayland Smith character is the more satisfying of the two. Nigel Green’s performance comes off as too rigid. Besides Christopher Lee and Tsai Chin the only other actor to appear in all five Harry Alan Towers Fu Manchu films was Howard Marion-Crawford in the role of Dr. Petrie, Nayland Smith’s best friend and sidekick in all of these adventures. Howard Marion-Crawford as Dr. Petrie provides these films with its comic relief.
Some other notable performances include Karin Dor (You Only Live Twice) as Maria Muller Janssen a chemist’s daughter in The Face of Fu Manchu. In the role of Fu Manchu’s right hand man is Burt Kwouk who most film fans will remember as Chief Inspector Jacques Clouseau’s man servant Kato from the Pink Panther films. Burt Kwouk appeared in these Fu Manchu film’s, The Brides of Fu Manchu, The Vengeance of Fu Manchu and The Castle of Fu Manchu. And the third film in the series The Vengeance of Fu Manchu would feature strong performances from Horst Frank and Maria Rohm.
Overall this is a must have collection if you are a fan of Christopher Lee and already own the other two films in the series The Blood of Fu Manchu and The Castle of Fu Manchu.
All three films included in this collection are presented in an anamorphic widescreen that preserves their original aspect ratios. The colors, black levels and level of detail are on par with the Blue Underground Fu Manchu DVD releases. Overall outside of some minor instances of print damage these three transfers look very good.
Each of the three films come with only one audio option a Dolby Digital mono mix in English. The Brides of Fu Manchu has the most noticeable hiss / background noise while it is not as pronounced with the other two films in this collection. Overall considering their age and the mono limitations the audio mixes for these three films is more than adequate in getting the job done.
The only extra content for this release are trailers for The Face of Fu Manchu and The Vengeance of Fu Manchu. Each of the three films comes in their own keep cases which are housed in a cardboard box. These three titles (The Face of Fu Manchu, The Brides of Fu Manchu, The Vengeance of Fu Manchu) are also available separately. Overall this repacking of three Fu Manchu films into one set now gives fans of the series a chance to see these films at a cheaper more affordable price.