The Fiendish Plot of Dr. Fu Manchu (1980)

THE FIENDISH PLOT OF DR. FU MANCHU (1980)
Article 2970 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 6-25-2009
Posting Date: 10-1-2009
Directed by Piers Haggard, Richard Quine and Peter Sellers
Featuring Peter Sellers, Helen Mirren, David Tomlinson

Dr. Fu Manchu seeks the ingredients for a secret potion that has kept him alive to the age of 168. However, Nayland Smith has come out of retirement to stop him.

Reportedly, Peter Sellers’s doctor warned him against making this movie due to his weak heart. Not only did Sellers make the movie (playing two roles and doing his own stunts), but he took over directorial reins after dismissing original director Piers Haggard. I can’t help but admire the man’s dedication; I just wish it had been at the service of a better movie than this one. Rather than a straightforward parody of the Fu Manchu stories (which wouldn’t have been a bad idea in itself), it instead attempts to be a quirky variation on the stories; unfortunately, the end result is strange, muddled and unfunny. I also feel uncomfortable watching Sellers’s’ performance on occasion here; there are times where his characters seem tired and ailing, and I’m not sure if I’m watching an actor’s choice, or Sellers’s own illness showing through. This would indeed prove to be Sellers’s last movie, and when one considers that his last movie would have been BEING THERE if this one had not been made, it makes it all that much sadder. The surprisingly good cast (which also features Sid Caesar) is sadly wasted.

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