I dare to review a Fu Manchu movie starring Christopher Lee
Fu Manchu ranks right up there as a character who has appeared many times in various media, including many film sequels starring Christopher Lee. Why do I care about a bunch of god-awful sequels with a stupid caricature of a Chinese supervillain? Well, this month has been god-awful for film releases. The only MARGINALLY good thing released was Transporter Reloaded (2015), so I’ve been relegated to bad movies on TV and stupid stuff on Vudu or Netflix. The Castle of Fu Manchu (1969) is just for me to chuckle at.
Christopher Lee made himself into Fu Manchu using a lot of make-up, but this take isn’t as stupid and offensive as others I’ve seen. This series of five movies stars a supervillain trying to take over the world and he’s the main character. The hero or heroes are secondary, and they are not given much screentime in comparison. I don’t see the point to that, to be honest. I guess the Castle of Fu Manchu was ahead of its time, where movies about villains are concerned.
I don’t want to give this movie too much credit, because The Castle of Fu Manchu really is an awful movie. It’s just terrible. It has no central focus and wanders all over the place as Fu Manchu springs his latest plot to conquer the world. This movie was so bad it was not released in US theatres until 1972, even though it was made in 1969. I wonder if Christopher Lee was doing somebody a favor or needed money or something. It isn’t strange he would do five of these stupid things, since he did the same thing with Dracula, but these things are so bad, way, way worse than anything ever produced by Hammer Studios. It just makes me wonder.
I don’t think today’s movie-goers or maybe even readers of movie blogs, are comfortable with characters like Fu Manchu. I will say that Christopher Lee does treat the role with respect, which is more than I can say for the 1930s version or other versions I’ve seen. Fu Manchu is a supervillain and he does supervillain things. That’s about it. Castle of Fu Manchu throws in a secret agent and Fu Manchu’s daughter, but that doesn’t change the formula much. There’s no depth whatsoever.
Overall, The Castle of Fu Manchu is only mildly interesting because it brings up a lot of relevant topics, like the evolution of film and film characters. For Fu Manchu as a whole, the Christopher Lee version was a giant step forward, but this one is still a bad movie with some of the worst direction and camera angles ever. The action is laughably low budget and the acting is some of the worst I’ve seen. Not even Christopher Lee can bring something good to this stupid series. At least I can say I saw it, but I think I’ll go back to Dracula for my Christopher Lee fix.