Fu Manchu is Coming(not the band)!
In a victory over knee jerk political correctness, Warner Home Video is releasing the best of the Christopher Lee Fu Manchu films, Brides of Fu Manchu on DVD in October.
As a fan of the insidious Dr. Fu Manchu both in the Sax Rohmer novels and various film versions, I was starting to get concerned that fears of reprisals from P.C. watchdogs had kept the Warner owned Harry Alan Tower’s produced Fu Manchus, (Face of Fu Manchu, Brides of Fu Manchu, and Vengeance of Fu Manchu) locked in the vaults never to see DVD release. But now on of the three is seeing release as part of a double bill disc available as a Best Buy exclusive. The other film on the disc is the 1966 version of Chamber of Horrors. On the same day there is another Warners/Best Buy disc with The Shuttered Room and It!. I would really have preferred Brides to be paired with It! so I only had to buy one $14.99 DVD.
The problem that people could find with the films is two fold. One is in the depiction of all Asians as villainous, and two having a six foot five english actor playing the titular Chinese character. The issue is of course with white actors playing asian characters and the analogy is made with white actors appearing in black face. Of course there have been many film adaptations of Sax Rohmer’s tales and none that I can recall have cast asians as Fu Manchu. Boris Karloff, Warner Oland, and Peter Sellers have all played Fu Manchu.
There was some stink made a few years ago trying to block the release of restored Charlie Chan films on DVD, a project partially backed by Lucy Liu. But it looks like some of that noise has died down and we now what Charlie Chan, Mr. Wong, Mr. Moto, and Fu Manchu all available for viewing on DVD.
Brides of Fu Manchu is by no means a great film, but it is great fun. Christopher Lee is almost always able to raise his performance a bit above the material and here is no exception. The film has a great look, some clap trap plot and a multitude of beautiful girls. Yet the real star of this and the other Harry Alan Tower’s Fu Manchu films is Tsai Chin who plays Fu’s coldly sadistic daughter. I’ll be back with a review of this disc, soon.