The Mask of Fu Manchu - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

The Mask of Fu Manchu Reviews

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½ January 1, 2010
"Kill the white man and steal his women!"- Fu Manchu

The original 'torture porn' horror film is replete with racist 'yellow peril', out-of-this-world tortures, and a menacing performance by Karloff as the Sax Rohmer character.

Lewis Stone is unflappable as the definitive Nayland Smith. The hysterically bi-polar performance by Karen Morley almost overcomes the scenes she is in and only really comes into its own when she suspects Terry, culminating in her cries in a raging rainstorm "He's possessed, possessed!"

The testing of the sword in Fu Manchu's lab is an atmospheric example of pulp fantasy with its wild display of electrics conducted by Karloff. The alligator death trap Smith is tied to is a setpiece that puts even the 007 movies to shame. But its the operation scene that is one of the bizarre sequences put on film. Manchu's operating lab is stocked with giant boa constrictors, spiders, and nearly naked muscled black men who's job it seems is only to stand on pedestals with their arms crossed. The cuts between the operation to Fu Manchu's daughter calmly smoking away are creepy indeed.

The finale with the armies of the East gathered together and a laser blasting away are quite spectacular for its time.
December 12, 2009
It is not wise to insult your host

Dr. Fu Manchu is a believer in the ancient arts of witchcraft and magic. He believes that he can obtain the sword and mask of Ghengis Khan and bring him back to life to rule the world. He is not the only one after the ancient relics. The English, amongst others, will battle the doctor to the death to prevent the return of Ghengis Khan.

?You think Fu Manchu doesn?t know that we have a beautiful white girl here??

Charles Brabin, director of Ben-hur, Rasputin and the Empress, The Broadway Peacock, The Raven (1915), and Vanity Fair, delivers Mask of Fu Manchu. The storyline for this picture was interesting and well delivered. The characters were well portrayed but only Manchu was well developed. The performance was magnificent by the infamous Boriss Karloff.

?We have to beat him.?

My wife and I are huge Karloff fans and catch as many of his films during the Halloween season as possible. This was an interesting film and reminded me of Marlon Brando?s The Teahouse on the August Moon in which Brando portrayed a Vietnamese man. In both films, the performance by the lead character was an A+ but the film was a C. The performance by the lead characters make these films worth watching but the film is not great overall.

?He?s insane with power.?

Grade: C+
November 2, 2009
A great film with more than obvious allegorical references to the ?Yellow Peril.? Much like Charlie Chan or Mr Moto, Dr Fu Manchu is played by a White man, this time its Boris Karloff (who must have played the Chinaman role well as he later played the titular character in the Mr Wong series). The evil Chinese doctor attempts to revive Genghis Khan's spirit into his own body using a combination of Eastern magic and Western science with the stated goal of creating a pan-Asian empire and killing all the White men the world-over. The good doctor regularly uses his advanced torture chamber and his daughter is especially sadistic (in a slightly sexual manner) in her use of the devices. An Indiana Jones-type that has a number of GREAT lines and an intriguing story with high-flung adventure.
½ October 30, 2009
A classic horror film starring one of the legends of the genre, Boris Karloff in one of his most psychotic roles and screen legend Myrna Loy. It's an entertaining movie full of torture and frightning creatures
½ October 21, 2009
Deliciously over the top, sadistic and yes, even racist. The Mask of Fu Manchu is impossible to take seriously and apart from some of the horrific torture scenes it never was intended to be seen any other way. Thrill to Karloff's snake-like delivery and Myrna Loy's vamping all the way to the death ray filled climax.
October 4, 2009
Fantastically entertaining Horror/Adventure film. Warning: If you're unfamiliar with and unprepared for the racial stereotyping of 1930s Hollywood, you should probably stay away from this one. It's nowhere near as bad as 'Birth of a Nation' (Which I can't stomach), but it is one of the worst offenders.
July 12, 2009
A movie that is interesting to consider on many levels: An early portrayal of a popular villain of pulp fiction that has inspired countless others from Ming the merciless to Dr. No. Also an archetype of action hero plots like Indiana Jones movies (you'll note many parallels, including ancient artifact that must be kept at all costs from the enemy). Also a creepy Karloff in his prime--already typecast as a monster in every movie. It's also a film that is shocking in its torture, fetish and kinky qualities in an era before the code cleaned that up. But most especially this is a movie worth discussing about its portrayal of pan-Asians and other races with stark racialized comments. You can find many good articles on this on the net. The jingoistic, pre-politically correct era stereotypes of the "yellow peril" makes for not only fascinating race relations history but an important education. In this sense, while it may be shocking and embarrasing at times, it is a film buff's gem.
April 16, 2009
Boris Karloff est tres drole dans cette caricature cliche de chinois diabolique, une sorte de super mechant omnipresent aux pleins pouvoirs avant l'heure
April 13, 2009
can see it, but i donīt liked so much because the good guys needed more suspicion.
½ February 8, 2009
Boris Karloff is deliciously evil in this devious little adventure serial. Karloff shines in this sadistic role, and Myrna Loy is interesting as his deadpan bad seed. The various torture scenes are enough for me to give this flick a passing grade. There's homoerotic subtext abound when Karloff straps nearly-nude hunk Charles Starrett to a table, surrounded by several bronzed, diaper-clad beefcakes. Joel Schumacher would be in heaven. After injecting Starrett with a mind control serum conconcted from spiders and reptiles, Karloff scrapes his long fingernails seductively across Starrett's abdomen. Yes, "The Mask of Fu Manchu" is a kinky pre-Code movie. You also get the classic alligator pit, the moving walls of spikes, death rays, and Ghengis Khan's magical sword and helmet. This is good cheesy matinee fun, and I enjoyed it way more than I probably should.
½ December 15, 2008
Yeah, this a nice movie, full of 'orient' mood and adventure but i's not soo 'SADISTIC' as reported by many critics.
I love it due to the exciting acting of THE UNCANNED ZAR BORIS!!
July 23, 2008
Never been a huge fan of Karloff and is overacting is pretty woeful here, even bearing in mind the time. Always preferred Christopher Lee's interpretation of the role in any case. That being said there are some quite sadistic torture scenes and some overt racist referencing, which are surprising but also show its age. Unusual.
July 10, 2008
Politically incorrect fun
July 9, 2008
Karloff and Myrna Loy! Wonderful make-up, acting, and sets. A little heavy on the "Cursed White Race" thing, but whatev.
½ July 8, 2008
A film that goes way too far over the top for it's own good.
June 29, 2008
If it wasn't so awesome, I'd be deeply offended.
June 23, 2008
This was a pretty entertaining old school flick.
Doctor Fu Manchu is a pretty sweet character.
Boris Karloff is pretty dope as Fu Manchu.
½ June 20, 2008
Luckily this film has enough gobsmacking racism, tarantulas, bad acting and dodgy torture scenes to keep you awake through the really boring plot.

Oh and I love the bit where they milk the venom from what is quite obviously a Boa Constrictor, a snake that everyone in the world knows isn't poisonous
June 13, 2008
It's definitely indicative of its era, but terribly racist. I just love how over done everything is in this movie. It's worth watching!
½ June 8, 2008
Myrna Loy shouting "Faster! Faster!" as the half-naked white hero is whipped by her black slaves. 'Nuff said.
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