The Vengeance Of Fu Manchu (1967)


Director: Jeremy Summers
Starring: Christopher Lee, Douglas Wilmer, Tsai Chin, Horst Frank, Noel Trevarthen, Tony Ferrer, Maria Rohm, Howard Marion-Crawford, Peter Carsten, Wolfgang Kieling, Susanne Roquette
Music: Malcolm Lockyer
Songs: ‘The Real Me’ and ‘Where Are the Men’ sung by Samantha Jones (Lyrics by Don Black)
Based on characters created by Sax Rohmer

The Vengeance Of Fu Manchu is not a spy film, but it does feature an evil mastermind attempting to take over the world. There’s also a nice subplot about the birth of ‘Interpol’. This is the third in the Harry Alan Towers produced, Fu Manchu series. With each installment, the quality of the series dropped considerably and the film has some long protracted moments where not too much happens.

Douglas Wilmer once again plays Fu Manchu’s Nemesis Nayland Smith, which he did previously in The Brides Of Fu Manchu. Wilmer is adequate in the role, displaying a squared jawed heroic countenance, but he doesn’t have the screen presence of Nigel Greene who played the character in the first film.

Of course, you can’t talk about a Fu Manchu film without talking about horror icon, Christopher Lee. By this film in the series Lee looks quite bored by the role. He isn’t given too much to say. He simply has to glower and nod his his head and his evil minions do the work for him. I guess it is in keeping with the character, but it isn’t particularly a stretch for Lee.

The film begins in the Quang-Su Provence in Northern China, and along a winding mountain track a small caravan of men make there way to a hidden fortress. Riding in comfort in two carriages, carried by their evil minions are the most evil man on earth, Fu Manchu and his equally vicious daughter Lin Tang (Tsai Chin).

Once at the fortress, Fu Manchu has all the paths and roadways dynamited, cutting off the outside world, so he can formulate his his attempt to take over the world in relative peace.

In London, Commissioner Nayland Smith of Scotland yard is planning a trip to Paris. He is meeting with other Police Chiefs in order to set up a new organisation designed to battle International Crime. This new organisation is to be called ‘Interpol’. At this meeting is a young FBI agent, Mark Weston (Noel Trevarthen). He reports that the crime gangs of America have selected a man named Rudolph Moss (Horst Frank) to be their new ambassador and seek out a new ‘Head’ of global crime. You’ve got to remember here, that everybody thinks that Fu Manchu is still dead. he died at the end of the last film. So the FBI and Interpol don’t know who this new ‘Head’ will be. Of course, we viewers know it is going to be Fu.

Meanwhile back in China, Fu Manchu is putting his latest plan into operation. Firstly he kidnaps Dr. Lieberson (Wolfgang Kieling) and his daughter, Maria (Susanne Roquette) from a nearby village. Lieberson initially refuses to work for Fu Manchu, so his daughter is tortured. Soon after the Doctor relents. The Doctor’s mission is to transform one of Fu Manchu’s Asian minions into a Caucasian likeness of Nayland Smith. And Fu instructs that this must be done in forty-eight hours. I think a modern day plastic surgeon would have trouble completing that task, let alone a Doctor in a remote village in Northern China. But who knows, maybe the Doctor is really a ‘Super Doctor’ who really believes in doing humanitarian work, rather than living at the cutting edge of medical science. I know, it’s silly of me to pick on the medical and scientific plot devices in a Fu manchu film. But I cannot help it. Regardless, the Doctor, fearing for his daughter’s life, agrees to transform Fu Manchu’s mindless killer into Nayland Smith.

Interpol are busy tracking down Rudolph Moss. It seems he was bound for Shanghai on a ship called the Orient Star. Interpol wires Inspector Ramos (Tony Ferrer) of the Shanghai police Department. Ramos intercepts the ship but he is too late. Moss has alreadt disembarked and his heading across country to meet Fu Manchu.

Meanwhile, Nayland Smith and his close friend, Dr. Petrie (Howard Marion-Crawford) are off on holiday in Ireland. On a rural track, their car runs out of petrol. luckily a car comes along and Petrie hitches a lift into the nearlest village to fill up a can of fuel. By the time Petrie returns, Nayland Smith has been kidnapped and Doctor lieberson’s psycotic double has been put in his place. The real Nayland Smith is bound and gaged and sealed in a wooden crate bound for Shanghai.

I don’t rate this entry in the Fu Manchu series very highly, but it does have a few points of interest. Firstly, this film was a co-production with Hong Kong’s Shaw Studios, which means it has a slightly different flavour to the other entries in the series. It also stars Tony Ferrer, who plays Inspector Ramos. Ferrer was a big star in the Philippines. One of his higher profile series were the Tony Falcon films made in the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s.

In the end though, despite the International intervention in the series, this film is a step down from previous films, and it really should have been the end of the series. But the series kicked on for another two films, each with a diminishing budget, and helmed by Jess Franco. But that’s another story.

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