In order to conquer Asia, Fu Manchu (Henry Brandon) must have the
sceptre of Genghis Khan, which is located in Genghis Khan's tomb ...
however, the only way to find the tomb is via three plaques, one of which
is believed to be in the possession of professors Parker (George Parker)
and Randolph (Tom Chatterton), whom Fu Manchu captures to torture the
location of the plaque out of them - which seems to be only arriving in
town via train, carried by Randolph's daughter Mary (Luana Walters). Thank
god for Mary though as well as Professor Randolph (Professor Parker got
killed soon enough) that Nayland Smith (William Royle) of Scotland Yard,
his sidekick Dr Petrie (Olaf Hytten) and Parker's son Allan (Robert
Kellard) are on the case.
Smith and young Allan do everything in their
power to prevent Fu Manchu from collecting the plaques, but despite their
valiant efforts, the oriental villain seems to be ahead of them way too
often, even if that means impersonating Allan Parker at one occasion or
losing his own daughter (Gloria Franklin).
Eventually, Fu Manchu has
collected all three plaques, and despte all precautions in the world, he
manages to leave the USA for Asia to find the tomb and the sceptre therein
- but Nayland Smith and Allan Parker are still in hot pursuit, even if
they have to fight hordes of natives in cahoots with the villain. In the
tomb, Smith and Parker even manage to relieve Fu Manchu of the screptre,
and from now on, the thing changes owners quite rapidly, but ultimately it
lands in Fu Manchu's hands, who beams its shadow into the skies to
mobilize a particularly large army against Smith and Parker, but in the
finale, Parker manages to break Fu Manchu's spell simly by destroying the
headlight used to project the shadow, then he goes after Fu Manchu himself
and disposes of him, while the sceptre is handed over to the High Llama
(Joe De Stefani), a unifier sympathetic to the region's British colonists.
However, the ending suggests that Fu Manchu has survived his disposal ...
its politics, and its treatment of Asians by and large, this serial might
seem terribly antiquated and of course politically grossly incorrect, but
considering the time of its production and taking it by its merits rather
than its flaws, Drums of Fu Manchu is a pleasently fast-moving
chapterplay with lots of action and stunts, and many a rather inventive
setpiece, which makes the whole thing enjoyable even today.