The Vengeance of Fu Manchu (1967)
|Year Of Production||1967|
|RSDL / Flipper||No/No||Cast & Crew|
|Region Coding||4||Directed By||Jeremy Summers|
Universal Pictures Home Video
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||None||English Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)|
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||1.85:1|
|Video Format||576i (PAL)|
|Original Aspect Ratio||1.85:1||Miscellaneous|
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||No|
The world hears from Fu Manchu again in this, the third film in the 1960's Christopher Lee series.
Fu Manchu decides to join forces with the Mafia in order to destroy the men who oppose his will. His first target is (naturally) Commissioner Denis Nayland Smith, of Scotland Yard. In a distinct and original departure from the two previous films, Fu arranges the kidnapping of a surgeon and his daughter. He forces the surgeon to perform plastic surgery on one of his henchman to change his appearance to that of Nayland Smith, in order to wreak his terrible vengeance.
The first two films in this series were quite enjoyable and rarely boring. Unfortunately, I cannot say the same about this one. The plot is ludicrous, and there are numerous long passages where not much happens. The film is dull and even though it runs less than an hour and a half, I was wishing it would end sooner. It did not help that I had seen it before, but even so this is a dud. Mind you, compared to the last film in the series, The Castle of Fu Manchu, this one is like Citizen Kane. I have not seen the fourth film, The Blood of Fu Manchu, but reviews suggest that it too is awful.
Most of the cast from the previous instalment return. Christopher Lee looks especially wooden in this one, quite static as if he was afraid that any movement would cause his false eyelids and moustache to fall off. At times he seems ready to break into laughter at the absurdity of it all. Douglas Wilmer plays dual roles. His hair has gotten considerably greyer from the previous film, which probably occurred when he read the script. At one stage he seems to be auditioning for the role of the monster in the next Frankenstein film.
Being an Anglo-German co-production, there are a few German actors in the film. Horst Frank plays Rudy, a Texan (he wears a Stetson) who mysteriously has a German accent. Maria Rohm is Ingrid, a torch singer who travels with him to Shanghai. And the FBI agent Mark Weston is played by New Zealand actor Noel Trevarthen, who has appeared regularly on Australian TV. He attempts an American accent for the few few words he speaks, then gives up. The Shanghai police chief, Inspector Ramos, is played by Filipino actor Tony Ferrer.
The direction by Jeremy Summers is pretty bad. The indoor scenes are okay, but when it comes to the action sequences he appears to have no idea how to stage them. The fight scenes, complete with martial arts, are laughable. And there is an execution scene at the start of the film where a man is beheaded on screen, but there is no blood.
The film was partially shot in Hong Kong in co-operation with the Shaw Brothers studios. The only advantage gained by this is that there is some location shooting, and some impressive scenery.
Harry Alan Towers, who wrote and produced the first two films, appeared to have run out of ideas by 1967. This did not stop him making the next two films in the series. As of 2003 he is still at it, one of ten (!) producers on a South African film version of Sax Rohmer's Sumurun which he had made an incomprehensible film of in the late 1960s, under the title The Million Eyes of Sumuru. One of the other 9 producers of the new film is Maria Rohm, who also answers to the name Mrs Towers.
The video quality of this transfer is impressive.
The film is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.85:1 and is 16x9 enhanced.
The transfer is very sharp and clear. Shadow detail is not so good, with some murky night scenes, shot during the day American-style. Except when directly lit, dark clothing also lacks detail and form.
Colours are excellent with vivid and rich hues. Reds seem to be oversaturated, but generally this aspect of the transfer is very good.
The opening shots appear to have been filmed through a thin, dirty veil, but after that there are few film artefacts. Occasional small white spots appear, though you have to look carefully to see them. There are also some faint white scratches from time to time, but nothing too distracting.
There are no subtitles on this single layered disc.
The audio is an improvement on previous titles in this series.
The sole audio track is an English Dolby Digital 2.0 track, though the sound is certainly mono. There is no surround or subwoofer activity.
Dialogue is clear and easy to understand. There are several pops and glitches, such as at 51:52, 70:11 and 82:22, but otherwise the transfer is quite good. The audio is a little lacking in body and presence, but it is acceptable.
Audio sync is a bit of an issue, but that is due to the source materials. It looks like several of the actors were dubbed, especially Peter Carsten, and also some of the dialogue of the English speaking actors seems to have been post-synced.
The music score by Malcolm Lockyer is quite generic, and sounds much like a TV score of the type used on 1960s TV series. It is quite unsubtle and at times it is too loud compared to the rest of the soundtrack. There are also two dire songs, sung by Ingrid in the Shanghai nightclub.
|Surround Channel Use|
As usual with these Universal releases, there are no extras.
NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.
This film has been released on DVD in Region 2. Apart from the inclusion of a theatrical trailer, the transfer sounds as if it is identical to this one. I would consider this extra to be insignificant enough to make this a draw.
The Vengeance of Fu Manchu is a tedious and unbelievable thriller, and it is a pity that the producers of this film did not stop after the first two films. If you are a Christopher Lee completist, then you may want to own this, especially at the low price.
The video quality is excellent.
The audio quality is good.
No extras are provided.
|DVD||Pioneer DV-S733A, using Component output|
|Display||Sony 86CM Trinitron Wega KVHR36M31. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum. This display device is 16x9 capable.|
|Audio Decoder||Built in to DVD player, Dolby Digital, dts and DVD-Audio. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum.|
|Amplification||Yamaha RX-V596 for surround channels; Yamaha AX-590 as power amp for mains|
|Speakers||Main: Tannoy Revolution R3; Centre: Richter Harlequin; Rear: Pioneer S-R9; Subwoofer: JBL SUB175|