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The Blood of Fu Manchu (1968)

The fourth of the British made Fu Manchu films starring Christopher Lee(STAR WARS MENACE), this shows the series desperately flagging and in dire need of a heart transplant. The other three films weren’t exactly stunning but at least two of them were watchable enough. The problem here is that there seems to be lots of little plots without any overall cohesion. Jesus Franco’s films are plagued with too many ancillary characters who don’t mean anything to the film. Did we really need the entire plot with the bandits? The film could have survived quite easily without it. A new director and a change of direction for the series in this case meant ditching the characters and settings that made the other films as successful as they were. Richard Greene (Submarine Patrol) as Nayland Smith is hardly given any screen time at all and Tsai Chin’s Lin Tang (Fu Manchu’s daughter) is grossly over-looked here – she proves to be just as cruel and brutal as her father, if not more, in the previous films and there was so much more scope for her during those torture scenes. Instead of new characters that mean nothing, how about fleshing out the characters that we actually did like in the first place? At least Professor Petrie is given a bit more time here than he was before and the film is all the better for it. Christopher Lee does look rather uncomfortable in his make-up but is arguably the best thing about the film. The Bond-style of the previous flicks is still evident though, with Jesus Franco seemingly placing Fu Manchu in a hideout in the rainforest simply to get some shots of the jungle. There’s the never-ending army of henchmen that Fu Manchu employs and various nasty devices in his base designed to maim and inflict pain. The scenes in which the kidnapped women are tied from the cave roof in their cells with as little clothing on as possible seems overtly tasteless, especially as it’s not really fitting with the overall tone of this series.

The Blood of Fu Manchu is a bit of a mess really and bounces from plot to plot without any clear direction. It’s a shame because the series’ had much potential but it was squandered and left to fall into the hands of hack directors like Franco…