The Blood of Fu Manchu (1968)



I think if you’ve read my review for The Brides of Fu Manchu, I mention how The Blood of Fu Manchu came next and then came The Castle of Fu Manchu even though the events from The Castle of Fu Manchu reference the events in The Brides of Fu Manchu, entirely skipping over those in The Blood of Fu Manchu.  And indeed, The Blood of Fu Manchu tells an entirely different story from that one.  It’s not like you need to watch these ridiculous films in any particular order to get what’s going on.  But, I just thought I’d clear that up if you were wondering.

For what it’s worth, The Blood of Fu Manchu was directed by Jess Franco, which makes the movie a bit more compelling in spite its stupidity and needlessly complicated plot.  Plus there’s quintessential Franco-isms like women chained by their hands from the ceiling having their clothes ripped from them.  Unfortunately, there isn’t nearly as much naughty stuff as what would be in later Franco films either because he had to conform to the Fu Manchu premise or because of the fascist Spanish censors.

Anyway, Christopher Lee reprises his role as Fu Manchu, the evil one who wants to take over the world for no particular reason.  This time he’s holed up in a temple in the amazon, where he holds women captive, administers snake venom to them and sends them off to kill his enemies via a kiss; hence the hilarious American title Kiss and Kill where Christopher Lee’s character isn’t called Fu Manchu but Mr. Evil.

Now, while it’s not hard to follow, the plot for this film is still needlessly convoluted, switching to a group of Mexican banditos that are led by a big, fat guy and invade some town, kill a bunch of people, steal stuff and rape the women – who, ya know, kind of enjoy it since it is Franco’s world, after all.  Then a bunch of other stuff happens involving a couple of brave, white guys who go to stop Fu Manchu – hey, I never said these movies were PC! – and there is some action and other stuff.  Also, a woman gets run over by a car so that’s cool.  Look, it’s not bad but there’s not much to say for Fu Manchu films.  They are what they are.

Also, if you’re one of those people who just watches the movie and doesn’t care for the special features, watch them this time.  Jess Franco talks about his fascination with Sax Romer’s novels and the interviews with Lee and Tsai Chin, who plays Fu Manchu’s assistant, provide some pretty interesting insight as well.  Chin admitted that these films and the concept of the “yellow peril”, as campy as it is, are indeed very racist and that it was either take these parts or not work.  Lee also didn’t feel too comfortable about the role; both morally and physically since he didn’t enjoy the amount of makeup needed to look Asian.  It’s also revealed that the reason Lee took so many Dracula roles is because Hammer had already sold the rights to the next sequel without asking and basically told Lee that he could walk away from the films if he wanted to put people out of work.  As he said in the interview, “that’s blackmail, isn’t it?”

The Brides of Fu Manchu (1966)



If you’re one of my loyal readers into the music profiles, I apologize for the movie overload.  It’s way easier to write movie reviews than really lengthy band profiles where you review every album.  I’m working on part one on a piece about the Stranglers so stay tuned.

In some interview on some DVD special feature, Christopher Lee scoffed at the ignoramuses who claimed that he played Count Dracula 10 times.  “Ha ha, I don’t know what people are talking about!  They say I played Count Dracula 10 times, haha!”  Well, he actually played Count Dracula eight times so pardon the fans for rounding up.  Furthermore Lee has played the mummy, Rasputin and Frankenstein’s monster among others.  But, what’s funny about all of his roles is that, while he laughed at the idea of being tied to Dracula, he never seemed to blink once when playing Fu Manchu five times.

Do you know what that means?  That means that in five different films, he had people put putty over his eyes so he looked Asian and acted like a maniacal super villain.  Clearly he would have to find Fu Manchu a much more laughable role than Count Dracula!  We can only hope.

And I’m not politically correct enough to find it offensive that a white man would play an Asian.  As far as I gather, the only Fu Manchu film to really cause any controversy was The Mask of Fu Manchu where Karloff’s take on the character and situations involved caused people from back then to consider the film offensive.  But, as far as I gather, Lee’s Fu Manchu does not exhibit any Asian stereotypes nor does he want to destroy the white race and rape its women; he just wants to destroy the human race so it’s okay.

I’m confused though.  I’d already watched The Castle of Fu Manchu and that one begins where The Brides of Fu Manchu ends; that is, with the underground hideout exploding and Fu Manchu escaping.  But there is another film that came out between the two called The Blood of Fu Manchu, which I have yet to see.  So, I’ll have to get back to you on that one.

The Brides of Fu Manchu is not surprisingly really stupid and, for the most part, pretty boring.  It’s basically a cross between a less interesting James Bond movie with a Sherlock Holmes mystery; the main detective looks like Peter Sellers playing Sherlock Holmes and his assistant looks like a Watson type.

So why two iron crosses?  I like the hideout sets in the pyramid and the hilarious, “futuristic” command center from which Fu Manchu operates.  There are also lots of Italian/Spanish tan-skin, big-eye cuties to look at.  Otherwise, this film is completely lacking in gore, suspense or anything interesting at all.  The “brides” don’t even really do anything.  The only cool thing that happens is when one is dropped into a pit of snakes.

I apologize if this review is lacking in content but there really isn’t much to say about the film.