This is the final entry in the Christopher Lee/ Fu Manchu series of films, produced by Harry Alan Towers. This is a wonderful DVD from the fine folks at Blue Underground with some really nice extras, too bad the film isn't as good!
Chris Lee is great as the devil doctor but the story, such as it is, is incredibly stupid. Fu, of course, wants to rule the world and to this end he plots to turn all the world's water to ice. Okay. It is up to the intrepid Nayland Smith (Richard Greene) of Scotland Yard to save the day with the help of his Watson-like sidekick Dr. Petrie (Howard Marion Crawford).
The print of the film looks great and the sound is crystal clear. The film is in anamorphic widescreen and a joy to look at.
It has always been a source of disappointment to me that these films weren't better than they are. Much of the fault must be laid squarely on the producer, Mr. Towers, who wrote all the screenplays under the name of Peter Welbeck. Why he wrote his own stories instead of basing the movies on Sax Rohmer's original novels is a mystery to me. Many of the original novels are quite good with interesting plots and characters. Even the character of Fu Manchu is more complex in the books. For instance, in "PRESIDENT FU MANCHU", Fu (remember he is a doctor), performs an operation on a young boy to save his life. You never see Lee doing anything like that in these films (or Karloff in "MASK OF FU MANCHU", or any of the other screen Fu's). Also, although Fu wants to rule the world in the books, he longs for a peaceful world without war, disease, or poverty. In the 3rd Lee/ Fu film, "VENGEANCE OF FU MANCHU", one character says, "We know of your desire to rule the world, a world of crime". Rule a world of crime? That isn't what Fu wants. Didn't Mr. Towers ever read even one of the novels? What a pity! With Lee as Fu and the wonderful Tsai Chin as his daughter, this could have been a great series. As it is, this is a very mediocre series of films with only Lee and Chin to make them mildly interesting.
Having said that, this is sort of a fun film to watch and an improvement over the previous entry, "BLOOD OF FU MANCHU" (also available from Blue Underground). You even get to see director Jess Franco in a small role as a police inspector.
The DVD extras are great. A 13 minute feature with commments from Lee and Chin, director Jess Franco and Mr. Towers. I must address one thing Mr. Towers says about Franco. He blames Franco for the poor quality of these last 2 films saying he "killed off Fu Manchu". I think that is an unfair statement. Franco isn't the greatest director in the world but the poor quality of these films isn't his fault alone. Mr. Towers must take some of the blame for his really lame screenplays. Even Alfred Hitchcock or Stanley Kubrick at the height of their creativity couldn't have breathed life into Mr. Towers lame scripts!
Also included are trailers, poster and photo galleries, some wonderful liner notes by "VIDEO WATCHDOGS" editor, Tim Lucas, info on Sax Rohmer and a bibliography of Fu novels (read some, they are good), and bios of Lee and Franco.
Overall, a nice disc for Lee and/or Franco fans, or anyone who loves that mysterious oriental super-genius, Fu Manchu. -George Bauch