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Film / The Castle of Fu Manchu

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The Castle of Fu Manchu (1969), directed by Jess Franco, is the fifth and final installment of the Fu Manchu series starring Christopher Lee in the role.

The plot attempts to emulate a James Bond movie, with its titular diabolical villain planning to freeze the oceans of the world by using a special opium-based formula. Fu Manchu has imprisoned a scientist to assist him, but the man requires a heart transplant (something which was still very new when this movie was made), so Fu Manchu kidnaps a doctor and his nurse to ensure his hostage stays alive. As the evil mastermind works on his plans, Interpol and his arch-nemesis Nayland Smith aim to find out where he is located and stop him.

For the Mystery Science Theater 3000 episode see here.

This film provides examples of:

  • Always Save the Girl: Omar Pasha really, really wants to rescue Lisa. It's hard to blame him.
  • Bifauxnen: Lisa.
    Tom Servo: Either I'm weird, or that guy's really hot!
  • Book Ends: The film opens with Fu Manchu's equipment getting overloaded and exploding, and it ends the same way.
  • Dawson Casting: Dr. Kessler the "brilliant young specialist" is a gray-haired man in his mid-40s.
  • Deus ex Machina: Dr. Kessler somehow comes into possession of some acid that can stop Fu Manchu's plans. How it will do this is never explained and it's not even clear if he ever uses it other than to blow up the lock on his cell door.
  • Dropped a Bridge on Her: Lisa, Rosabla Neri's character, who is killed trying to rescue a colleague who has already been killed by Fu Manchu.
  • Dull Surprise: Fu Manchu, in every single shot.
  • Enemy Mine: Nayland Smith invokes this when he meets Omar Pasha.
  • Establishing Character Moment: Fu Manchu first appears fully towering over his assistant. Roger Ebert actually liked the shot.
  • Explosive Overclocking: An argument between Fu Manchu and one assistant over the former's machine and increasing power too much. Too bad the sound is so garbled you really can't hear them say anything intelligible, though the assistant gives a good Oh, Crap! face.
  • Failure Hero: Nayland Smith really doesn't defeat Fu Manchu, so much as stumble over his plot and just be a passive observer. In fact it seems like Fu Manchu's plan goes south all on its own.
  • For the Evulz: To prove how serious he is to the doctors, he destroys a dam and kills all the workers. Why he has to prove this to them, how he did it, and what importance it has to anything except to prove he's evil is a total mystery.
  • Generic Doomsday Villain: It's never explained why Fu Manchu wants to freeze the world's oceans, though stopping international trade might be a way to blackmail the world.
  • Hyper-Awareness: Nayland Smith immediately knows the doctor has been kidnapped, simply because the doctor left a cigarette burning on a nice table; he deducts this literally less than a minute after the doctor was kidnapped.
  • Market-Based Title: Released in Germany as Die Folterkammer des Dr. Fu Man Chu ("The Torture Chamber of Dr. Fu Manchu").
  • No Ending: Fu Manchu's base blows up as some of the surviving characters watch, Fu Manchu claims he'll be back, and then the film just ends. This may sound like an ending, but not the way its presented in the film.
  • Off with His Head!: Happens to the Governor of Anatolia.
  • Random Events Plot: There is in fact an almost-coherent storyline, but the film is so disjointed that it comes off this way.
  • Sequelitis: A textbook case. This is the fourth sequel to The Face of Fu Manchu and it's just as wretched as you might expect.
  • Stock Footage: The ship sinking which opens the story is footage from A Night to Remember. Something that's particularly jarring when you consider that this film was made in colour, and A Night to Remember was in black-and-white. Meanwhile the destruction of the dam is lifted from Campbell's Kingdom, complete with blink-and-you'll-miss-them appearances by that film's stars, Stanley Baker and Dirk Bogarde.
  • Storming the Castle: A villainous example happens when Omar Pasha and Fu Manchu's forces take over the titular castle. Later on Nayland Smith technically does this but meets almost no opposition.
  • Stuff Blowing Up: Fu Manchu's base on the Bosphorus blows up at the end of the movie, although it's far from clear exactly why.
  • Visual Pun: An unintentional example; the movie starting with a sinking ship is a perfect metaphor for how disastrous the film itself is.
  • You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: Fu Manchu is very quick to kill off allies the moment they became extraneous. (Hell, he even has living heart donors.)