Sax Rohmer's fiendish menace from the Orient, the diabolical Dr. Fu Manchu, springs to life on the silver screen embodied by the decidedly European Christopher Lee in this, the first of five fiendish flicks of fright.
I find it very hard to take these films seriously, coming back to them after Steve Coogan and Mark Gatiss' superb parody in "Dr. Terrible's House of Horrible". I almost expected the legendary Mr. Lee to come out with lines like 'Something has happened to my Woo-Woo', or indeed 'You have walked into my trap, and now the time has come for me to shut my trap'. However, Lee is superb as always, with able support from the lovely Tsai Chin as Lin Tang, deadly daughter of Fu Manchu. These menaces from the East are ranged against Nigel Green as Nayland Smith of Scotland Yard, and Howard Marion Crawford as his stalwart sidekick Dr. Petrie, who must stop their plan to distil the deadly poison of the Tibetan black hill poppy.
Despite an obvious limited budget, with Dublin standing in for 1920s Limehouse, the film holds up well. Co-production cash from Germany means we get a decidedly Teutonic supporting cast (including the gorgeous Karin Dor, probably best known as Helga Brandt in "You Only Live Twice" - costarring Tsai Chin, funnily enough). One of the biggest distractions for me, however, was the sight of Jim Norton, Bishop Brennan of "Father Ted", in the small role of the professor's driver.
All good pulpy fun, from the days when it was considered acceptable to "yellow up" a white actor to play an Asian. They don't make 'em like this anymore. That may be a good thing.