The Face of Fu Manchu (1965)

Article 2769 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 12-6-2008
Posting Date: 3-13-2009
Directed by Don Sharp
Featuring Christopher Lee, Nigel Green, Joachim Fuchsberger
Country: UK / West Germany

Nayland Smith, despite having witnessed Fu Manchu’s execution, begins to suspect that his arch-enemy is still alive when a series of murders begin happening in London. His fears turn out to be true when Fu Manchu kidnaps a scientist who has figured out how to concoct a terribly destructive poison.

I’ve been told that this is the best of the series of movies made during the late sixties that revived the Fu Manchu character, and I do have to agree; unlike some of the other movies in the series, it is coherent, it doesn’t feel like Christopher Lee is merely walking through the part, and certain sequences are very effective (the opening execution, for example). However, it’s not a great movie; it’s merely passable. Neither Nayland Smith nor Fu Manchu come across as formidable foes; in fact, at times their mistakes seem quite stupid, and they seem to fool and outwit each other quite easily. The script does feel pretty formulaic for these sorts of movies as well. It’s watchable enough, but for a movie that kicks off a franchise, it’s a pretty weak beginning.


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