The Fu Manchu DVD Double
The Blood of Fu Manchu
The Castle of Fu Manchu

Starring: Christopher Lee
Warner Home Video
RRP: 15.99
Z1 58517
Certificate: 15
Available 25 October 2004

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...

In 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.

Richard 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?"

This 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.

Ty Power

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