Monday, 7 February 2011

Just Fu Beware Of ...

The Castle Of Fu Manchu

The fiendish Fu Manchu is back, this time holding the world to ransom at the threat of freezing the planets oceans. A cold heart, threatening a cold front, in a cold blooded sequel from Director Jess Franco.

Christopher Lee returns for the fifth time to play the lead role of Fu Manchu, fulfilling a contract no doubt, that upon conclusion of this movie he may well have been relieved at. The first incarnations of creator Sax Rohmer’s character portrayed by Lee were under the auspices of Hallam Productions Ltd, the quality of which is clearly evident in their production. Unfortunately by the time The Blood Of Fu Manchu (1968) and The Castle Of Fu Manchu (1969) came to be the, budgets had drastically been cut.

This final outing in the sixties series, all set during the 1920’s, really was a somewhat atypical version of the Fu Manchu mantra, its terrifying tune somewhat muted, and infused with a more sober rendering under Jess Franco’s direction. Stock footage from the black and white classic A Night To Remember (1958), even with a tinted effect, cannot hide the budgetary restraints when inserted into the picture as a display of Fu Manchu’s weapon of destructions power.

The story has Fu Manchu issuing a fourteen day ultimatum to the worlds leaders, to conform to his order of all assuming power or suffer the consequence of global catastrophe. Unleashing his formula into the oceans would bring about frozen seas planet wide, affecting world trade and pandemonium to the entire populace.

To carry out his threat Fu Manchu does however require the co-operation of renowned Professor Heracles, who’s research and refinement is essential to the final formulation of the dastardly despots eco evil plan. He also requires vast quantities of the drug opium as part of the necessary components in the formula. Professor Heracles is not a young man, and has a declining heart condition. Abducted by Fu Manchu’s henchmen it is clear he is of little use until a specialist physician is also taken captive to undertake a heart transplant !. In order for all to conform to Fu Manchu’s needs Heracles friend and personal physician Doctor Curt Kessler, along with his medical assistant Marie (Maria Perschy), are cast unconscious and transported to Fu Manchu’s domain.

With such dastardly deeds playing out Scotland Yard once again calls upon the expertise of its finest law enforcer, Nayland Smith (Richard Greene). Aided by his version of Watson in Doctor. Petrie, Nayland Smith does his best Sherlock Holmes detection work and is soon setting off with his medical companion to locate Fu Manchu. The spot on detection brings them to Istanbul in Turkey, where Fu Manchu has taken up residence in a castle. Within its walls his minions toil to his tyrannous tirade, and Professor Heracles is given a life enhancing operation.

Nayland Smith chooses to form a temporary alliance with local cartel opium dealer Omar Pashu, who in common with the Scotland Yard pillar of society has a reason to bring an end to Fu Manchu’s rapacious reign. His own dealings with the oriental kingpin has seen his finest assistant, Lisa (Rosalba Neri), fall into Fu Manchu’s nefarious clutches, and she is held captive within the confines of the castle at Fu Manchu’s pleasure.

With time running out Nayland Smith deploys his one man army assault upon the castle, whilst Omar Pashu does his best to keep Fu Manchu distracted. Down in the depths of the stone clad construct Lisa, Curt and Marie have already staged their own plan of escape, and the best laid plans of Fu Manchu begin to crumble down around him and daughter Lin Tang, the lovingly loyal ever present at his side.

Overall a sad conclusion to the Fu Manchu franchise of the time. Poor plotting, a plodding pace, and an underused Christopher Lee, make The Castle Of Fu Manchu an onerous task for most to endure. Richard Greene is a class act and does his best in the role of Nayland Smith, and Rosalba Neri is a delightful distraction both in her natural beauty and her Tommy gun totting tomboy performance. Christopher Lee’s enduring persona gives life to Fu Manchu in an otherwise, albeit quite often colourfully shot, drab affair.

Will the world ever hear from Fu Manchu again ?, quite likely, and hopefully in a big budgeted Hollywood showpiece, so as to bring the legend of Sax Rohmer’s enduringly evil character appropriately back to life !.

The Castle Of Fu Manchu Trailer
Movie Details IMDB

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