• Blood Of Fu Manchu/Castle Of Fu Manchu



    Released by: Blue Underground
    Released on: May 30th, 2017.
    Director: Jess Franco
    Cast: Christopher Lee, Tsai Chin, Richard Greene, Maria Rohm, Maria Perschy, Rosalba Neri
    Year: 1968/1969
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    The Movies:

    Blue Underground presents two Jess Franco/Christopher Lee adaptations previously released on DVD on Blu-ray for the first time – Blood Of Fu Manchu from 1968 and 1969’s follow up, Castle Of Fu Manchu, both obviously based on the novels by Sax Rohmer.

    The Blood Of Fu Manchu:

    Up first is Blood Of Fu Manchu, the fourth film in producer Harry Alan Towers’ series starring Christopher Lee as the diabolical super villain (The Face Of Fu Manchu started it off, followed by The Bride Of Fu Manchu and then Vengeance Of Fu Manchu).

    When the movie begins, Fu Manchu (Christopher Lee) and sinister daughter Lin Tang (Tsai Chin) are up to no good in their hideout deep within the Amazon jungle. Fu Manchu’s plot this time is to kidnap ten beautiful women and inject them with a solution will turn their lips into devices capable of carrying and transmitting deadly poison! Given just how foxy these women are, there’s not a man alive that will be able to resist their charms.

    First on his hit list? Nayland Smith (Richard Greene), his arch nemesis. While the kiss goes off without a hitch, it doesn’t kill Smith, instead it causes him to lose his sight for some time. Thankfully his comrade in arms Dr. Petrie (Howard Marion Crawford) is around to help, and together they decide to head to the Amazon and find an antidote to Fu Manchu’s super venom. Also on their agenda is to rid the world of the foul villain once and for all. Along for the ride are friends to the cause Carl Jansen (Götz George) and a beautiful Ursula Wagner (Maria Rohm) who hopes to avenge the death her father suffered at the hands of Fu Manchu…

    Quickly paced and nicely shot in some genuinely exotic locations, The Blood Of Fu Manchu is pretty fun stuff. The main reason to watch the film is the casting of Lee in the lead. While clearly he’s a Caucasian and the movie is a product of its time in that regard, his performance here is quite good even if by modern standards the character plays towards negative stereotypes. But hey, it’s a work of fiction and should be judged as such. Lee puts a lot into the role, using his magnificent screen presence to nice effect and he gets a lot of screen time in the picture as well. Supporting work from Tsai Chin, Richard Green and the lovely Maria Rohm (Towers’ wife at the time) are also noteworthy but this is Lee’s show through and through.

    The Castle Of Fu Manchu:

    This 1969 film again directed by Jess Franco and produced by Harry Alan Towers stars Christopher Lee once again awkwardly cast as the evil Chinese supervillain Fu Manchu. This time around, he plans to freeze all the oceans of the Earth with a new gadget he’s invented. Thankfully for all of mankind, his arch-rival, Dr. Nayland Smith (Richard Greene again), is once again on hand to put a stop to his nefarious plan. Thankfully for those of us playing along at home, the scorchingly hot Rosalba Neri shows up and looks as lovely as always. Tsai Chin also reprises her role here as Lin Tang.

    This is the weaker entry than the first movie but it’s still entertaining enough despite some obvious flaws. Franco actually tells a halfway decent story here and the movie is some good, pulpy fun when seen in its proper uncut form and proper aspect ratio (which it is on this release – the film was skewered on MST3K years back where it was presented in cut pan and scan presentation that didn’t do it any favors). Like a lot of Franco films, this one was made fast and without a lot of attention to important details – typical of Franco in many ways – but Lee is great in the part even if he’s woefully underused throughout most of the picture.

    Some fun sets and equally fun set pieces make up for the logic gaps and plot holes. The opening scene in which Fu Manchu and his cronies destroy an ocean liner gives Franco all the reason in the world to use some stock footage inserts, footage used in other earlier films and miniature effects work to bring that sequence to life and hey, the ladies in the cast all look really good. It’s a patchwork film to be sure and it’s far from great, but neither is it as completely dire as its reputation would have you believe.

    Video/Audio/Extras:

    Both films are presented on a 50GB Blu-ray disc in AVC encoded 1080p high definition transfers framed at 1.66.1 widescreen. These transfers have problems. While colors are nicely reproduced and black levels are solid, detail levels are flat and very soft. There’s obvious edge enhancement visible throughout and it looks like some fairly liberal doses of DNR has been applied. The bit rate on the disc is pretty solid and there are no compression artifacts, but the lack of grain is and texture in the image is a pretty big strike against it.

    Each film gets the DTS-HD 2.0 Mono treatment with optional subtitles provided in English SDH only. Quality of the audio for both films is just fine. There’s a reasonable amount of depth here and clarity is solid. The levels are nicely balanced and there are no noticeable issues with any hiss or distortion worth noting.

    Extras are carried over from the old DVD releases and are comprised primarily of two featurettes, the first of which is The Rise Of Fu Manchu, a fifteen minute featurette that contains interviews with director Jess Franco, producer Harry Alan Towers and cast members Christopher Lee, Tsai Chin and Shirley Eaton. The second featurette is fourteen minute long The Fall Of Fu Manchu and it once again contains interviews with Franco, Towers Lee and Chin. For those who haven’t seen this previously, they’re enjoyable and interesting discussions about adapting the source material, casting the picture, the locations that were used for the pictures and plenty more.

    Outside of that we get theatrical trailers as well as poster and still galleries for both films. Menus and chapter selection are also included.

    The Final Word:

    Well, the two Jess Franco lensed Fu Manchu films starring Christopher Lee are fun enough even if the first picture is vastly superior to the follow up. As to the release itself? The audio is fine and all the extras from the previous DVD releases are ported over. Unfortunately the transfers are more than a little underwhelming…

    Click on the images below for full sized Blu-ray screen caps!































    Comments 2 Comments
    1. John Bernhard's Avatar
      John Bernhard -
      Confirmed SD upconverts. Boo Hiss on Blue Underground for issuing this turd.
    1. C.D. Workman's Avatar
      C.D. Workman -
      I actually bought this double sight unseen, only to get it home, watch both films, and be sorely disappointed. They look like complete shit.
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