Everyone's favourite fictional Chinese tyrant is back (I think
I can safely say 'favourite' because there isn't any more,
is there?), and once again he has plans of world domination.
Can't he just read a book when he's bored like normal people!
Believe me when I say his new scheme is completely diabolical.
In The Blood of Fu Manchu, he of the droopy moustache plans
to poison all his enemies and anyone who has dared to criticise
his dodgy accent (sirry iriot!). To achieve this aim he has
kidnapped several attractive young women - all in the cause
of science, of course (ahem) - and keeps them chained on the
walls in skimpy underwear (sounds reasonable to me). A particular
small snake from the Brazilian jungle has a poison which will
kill a man but not a woman. Once bitten the woman becomes
a carrier and can kill a man with a deadly kiss. The women
are hypnotised into understanding the plot (or at least the
paycheque) and sent to all the major capitals of the world.
Top of the list is London, home of the stiff upper lip and
tea on the terrace, and in particular the thorn in our bad
guy's side Nayland Smith of Scotland Yard...
Castle of Fu Manchu, an extract of opium and a lot
of bubbling chemicals and equipment with huge levers allows
our cheeky Chinese chappy to manipulate the oceans. As a demonstration
of his power and all-round nastiness he sinks a (blue-tinted)
liner. However, his glorified radiogram blows a valve, overloads
and sends his installation to kingdom come. Moving his operation
to the inconspicuous location of a huge Istanbul castle, he
gives the world two weeks to comply with his (unspecified)
ultimatums - probably "Watch my DVDs or I'll make more sequels!"
By a happy coincidence two weeks is just long enough for our
eminently civilised hero Nayland Smith to return from holiday,
trace the fiend and put a stop to his shenanigans.
Greene (looking for all the world like Rex Harrison in My
Fair Lady) takes on the mantle of Assistant Commissioner
Nayland Smith for these two adaptations, worn by Douglas Wilmer
in the first three films. Reprising his role from those films
is Howard Marion Crawford as every woman's favourite dish,
Doctor Petrie (that's a joke, by the way!). Thankfully he's
not such a bumbling fool this time, just very British as he
complains about lack of tea and his aversion to going abroad.
If these films are supposed to be tongue-in-cheek it makes
them easier to accept, if not they're too bad for words...
but bad in a way that you can have fun criticising them. For
example: the curved blades carried by Fu Manchu's men flap
about like cardboard and they don't even make contact when
someone is killed; a heart transplant is carried out on a
sick professor with no life-support (so why doesn't he die
when his old heart is removed, and why is it only a fraction
of the size it should be?); and the dialogue is funny or cringeworthy
in several places. The once which really make me chuckle was
"He's dead." "What, completely?"
is a single two-sided disc. In my review for Vengeance
of Fu Manchu I said the films don't make for an
attractive release singularly but they might prove more popular
as two films packaged together. So here we are with just that,
a two-sided single disc with Blood on one side (that
would have been a nice marketing idea) and Castle on
the other. Was someone listening? Nah.
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