When professor Müller (Walter Rilla), who is in the process of
developing a poisonous gas, is kidnapped, it leaves no doubt to Nayland
Smith (Nigel Green), that evil Fu Manchu (Christopher Lee) is behind it
all, even though he saw the villain decapitated himself. So he, along
with Müller's assistant Jansen (Joachim Fuchsberger) & his trusted
friend Dr.Petrie (Howard Marion Crwawford), takes up investigations of
his own. & of course he is right, Fu Manchu is alive & has
abducted the professor, but that man has little interest in sharing the
results of his rsearches with the villain, making Fu Manchu to abduct
Müller's daughter Maria (Karin Dor) too, so the professor finally gives
in. But there is one more obstacle in the way of Fu Manchu getting the
gas: a vital part to the formula is not yet in the professor's hands but
in the museum for Oriental studies' vault (for whateever reason), &
Nayland Smith knows that too & has the museum heavily guarded. But
since the story takes place in London, Fu Manchu's men still manage to
enter the vault through the sewage system leading to River Thames, &
it is only due to the fi9ghting skills of Nayland Sith & Jansen that
they can't actually get into the safe where the formula is kept. But
when Smith afterwards demands the safe to be opened, he finds it ...
empty - the formula is actually with absent minded professor Gaskell
(Harry Brogan). Now, a desperate chase for the formula ensues, which Fu
Manchu finally wins, &, once in the possession of the poisonous gas
itself, he announces over the radio he willfirst demonstrate his power
on the city of Fleetwick.
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Now I admit it gets a little confusing: Even though Nayland Smith
knows Fu Manchu now has the poisonous gas, he does not have the city
evacuated but sends in soldiers to guard the townfolks - without gas
masks. Of course everybody dies (at least there are some pretty
atmospheric shots of the city full of corpses).
But as Fu Manchu contemplates bigger & better things, Smith &
Jansen come to the conclusion that Fu Manchu's headquarters have to be
beneath River Thames, & some of the maps of the sewage system show
them exactly where to enter the villain's realm - which they do, too,
only to be captured themselves. & they would have had it, too, was
it not for a last minute intervention by Maria Müller, with whom they
finally escapes. Fu Manchu & the professor manage to escape too,
though, to Tuibet, where the key ingredience of the poisonous gas, some
exotic flower, is growing. But Nayland Smith & company are still hot
on the villain's trail, & they manage to enter his Tibetan castle
& free the professor while leaving behind a crate of Nitroglycerin
... that goes boom !
In the sixties, crime- & espionage-movies were suddenly back en
vogue (not at least sparked by the success of the James Bond
series), & so it was only a matter of time until the
Oriental Villain Fu Manchu would be resurrected, courtesy of producer
Harry Alan Towers. The film as such is a pretty decent & solid piece
of spy-adventure-yarn (apart from the slip of logic concerning the
poisoning of Fleetwick, as mentioned above), even if it is a
little on the old-fashioned side. It would be a reasonable success, so
Towers would produce 4 more flicks about the Oriental villain, The
Brides of Fu Manchu (1966), also by Don Sharp, Vengeance of Fu
Manchu (1966) by Jeremy Summers, Blood
of Fu Manchu (1968) & Castle of Fu Manchu
Jess Franco. Apart from Christopher Lee in the title role, only Tsai
Chin & Howard Marion Crawford would return in all the sequels as Lin
Tang, Fu Manchu's daughter & Dr. Petrie, the Doctor Watson to
Nayland Smith (Howard Marion Crawford did actually play the role of
Watson in Sheldon Reynolds' tv-series Sherlock Holmes in the
mid-fifties). Nayland Smith would in later movies be played by Douglas
Wilmer (Vengeance of Fu
Manchu), then Richard Greene (Blood
of Fu Manchu & Castle of Fu Manchu).
Joachim Fuchsberger & Karin Dor actually acted together in many a
Film-produced Edgar Wallace-mystery back in the
60's - just to show you that crime- & espionage-movies of that ilk
really were en vogue back then -, in more or less the same role as
dashing hero & daughter of somebody, respectively.