The Face of Fu Manchu (1965) – By Brian Lindsey

If badly staged action scenes and conspicuously Caucasian actors wearing phony “Oriental” rubber eyepieces are your bag, then this is your movie. It’s a pity, really, because The Face of Fu Manchu has a lot going for it. Based on characters from Sax Rohmer’s classic potboilers, this was the first of six Fu flicks produced by Harry Alan Towers in the 1960s. Hiring horror film icon Christopher Lee to play Fu was an inspired choice. With his tall, sinister physicality and aquiline features he very much resembles the archvillain as described in the novels. (Even with the eyepieces, Lee has the screen presence to pull it off.) Towers also reportedly spent a good chunk of change promoting the film, particularly in America, even going so far as to plaster New York City with‚ Fu Manchu For Mayor posters just prior to its premier there. Too bad he didn’t cough up more dough for a decent stunt coordinator or to hire more real Asian actors for the cast. On the plus side, Nigel Green makes for an excellent Nayland Smith. An old-school English gentleman and a rugged man of action, he’s all business James Bond drained of lust. Pretty Tsai Chin (also in You Only Live Twice: “I give you very best duck!”), as Fu’s sadistic daughter Lin Tang, makes Tura Sultana’s Dragon Lady character pale in comparison. The old-fashioned story and 1920s setting invoke a welcome throwback to the movies of yesteryear.