Fa Lo Suee — “Master of Kung Fu”

Daughters of Evil World Conquerors really have only two options in life: be their father's adoring minion who ultimately falls for the Hero and helps him defeat her father, or strike out on your own and try to out-conquer him. Fah Lo Suee, daughter of the inscruitable Mandarin Fu Manchu, is entirely the latter. But while Fah Lo Suee in the novels was more the former, only once really acting in the role of conqueror in place of her father, in the Marvel comic "Shang-Chi, Master of Kung Fu", she was a re-occurring character with her own agenda who battled her father as much as she battled her own half-brother Shang-Chi.

History: In 1972, Marvel Comics obtained the literary rights to Sax Rohmer's Fu Manchu novels in order to publish a martial arts comic entitled "Master of Kung Fu"  to take advantage of the popularity of the TV series Kung Fu and the corresponding increased interest in martial arts action. The license allowed Marvel to use the existing characters, aged from the 1920's era, with a new lead character, Shang Chi. Shang Chi was trained to be his father's assassin but rejected that path as one that degraded his quest to advance himself. (Translated, his name meant "the rising and advancing of the spirit".)

One of the characters used was Fah Lo Suee, Fu Manchu's seductively hypnotic (or hypnotically seductive) daughter, who shared her father's hypnotic prowess, aided by her exotic Eurasian beauty, cunning charm and ruthless nature. Fah Lo Suee is the "pet" name given her by her father, as her real name is never used: it is said to mean "sweet perfume" although Rohmer's Chinese is a little faulty.

Fah Lo Suee would make several appearances in "Master of Kung Fu", always with the intent of thwarting her father's schemes or promoting her own. The following are the most relevant.

(26) 'Daughter of Darkness!'

The first appearance of Fah Lo Suee. She uses her hypnotic powers on young Egyptologist Robert Greville, in order to locate the fabled ruby eyes of The Golden Beetle of Seth-Amon, twin rubies that have the power to hypnotize even beyond her own ability, which she is suspected of desiring in order to control her more powerful father. Greville is first placed under her seductive spell by her mysterious appearance in his rooms at night (described above) and given an emerald ring as a reminder of her eyes.

[Robert Greville] "… and there she was, standing right at the foot of my bed as proud as could be. She was dark … sultry. I suppose you might say she was coldly sensual, if you know what I mean. And her dress — sheer black satin which looked as though it had been painted to her body …"

[Nayland-Smith] "And did she speak to you?"

[Greville] "Yes. Her voice was low, throaty — it seemed to purr, and yet there was no doubt that she was capable of a snarl. She told me that I'd soon find what I had been searching for — the Ruby Eyes of the Golden Beetle".

[Nayland Smith] "And her eyes, Lord Robert … ? What were they like?"

[Greville] "The purest jade green … and piercingly hypnotic. They actually seemed to glow within the darkness of my bed chamber. I don't mind admitting that I was frightened, Sir Denis — for deep within her unwavering stare I glimpsed everything which is at once depraved and irresistible … every dark sin and bright lust capable of Man."

Later she will kidnap him and bring him to the tomb where the Beetle is supposedly buried, mesmerizing him into finding them.

[Fah Lo Suee] "The emerald, Robert Greville … the emerald in the ring … is much like my eyes, is it not? …"

"You brought me to this pyramid because the emerald wanted you to do so … because my eyes commanded you to do so … my eyes reaching out from the green depths of the emerald …"

[Robert Greville] "Yes … the emerald … wanted me to … bring you … here …"

[Fah Lo Suee] "And now the emerald wants you to lead me to the Pharaoh's burial chamber … my eyes command you to lead me there … My eyes, reaching out from the depths of the emerald."

When Shang Chi and Nayland Smith confront Fah Lo Suee, Smith, too, falls under the hypnotic spell of her eyes when he accidentally looks into them.

[Nayland-Smith] "Then it's true, daughter of Hell, you still live … eternally beautiful … eternally evil …"

[Fah Lo Suee] "Welcome, Nayland-Smith … it has been a long time since I last saw you …"

[Nayland-Smith] "You're still … so young … not a day older that the last time I gazed into your hellish eyes, your beautiful emerald eyes … still enchanting … promising peace … and pleasure beyond —"

[Shang Chi] "Smith —! You must not —"

[Fah Lo Suee] "Gaze into my eyes again, Nayland-Smith, and ask yourself how you could have refused my love … but know with certainty that you can never refuse my command … for you are mine, Nayland-Smith … mine again, after forty long years …"}

(28) 'A Small Spirit, Slowly Shaped'

Fah Lo Suee, having survived the explosion that was meant to kill her and seal the Ruby Eyes within the Pharaoh's tomb forever, uses the Ruby Eyes to control a force of her father's Si-Fan assassins. Only one of the assassins has resisted her amplified hypnotic powers, and he aids Shang Chi in holding off the other assassins while Shang Chi steals the ruby earrings that Fah Lo Sueee has had the Ruby Eyes made into.

(47) 'Phantom Sand'

After Reston was knocked down from behind, he woke up in seconds, but decided to play dead, watching Tarrant tell Fah Lo Suee to kill him, but she decided to keep him alive. After Reston had escaped, he watched Fah Lo Suee and her men from afar, but was knocked down by Chankar and brought to Fah Lo Suee, who brought him under her control with her mimosa perfume.

Later, after Shang and Leiko managed to escape, Fah Lo Suee left in a helicopter, leaving the mind-controlled Reston screaming and begging for her to take him with her.

(87) 'Warriors of the Golden Dawn #5: The Chrysalis and the Peacock'

Fah Lo Suee appears as part of a conspiracy to control British Military Intelligence (M.I.6) Surprisingly, her intent is not to destroy it, to strengthen it for use against her father. She is discovered by an associate of Shang Chi's, Black Jack Tarr, a big, bruising Englishman.

[Tarr, holding a gun on Fah Lo Suee.] "I understand awright, you two-faced vixen. You think I could forget how you've tricked me time and again?"

[Fah Lo Suee stares at Tarr] "Nor can you forget my eyes, Black Jack Tarr … the spell of golden dreams dwelling deep with my eyes …"

[Tarr] "I don't want … I … can't … can't … your … eyes …"

[Fah Lo Suee] "Put down the gun, Jack Tarr … and kiss me."

Tarr unfortunately doesn't get much pleasure from the kiss, as Zaran, Fah Lo Suee's enforcer, interrupts them and mistakenly believes Tarr willingly complied. He then proceeds to beat the tar {sorry} out of Tarr in jealousy.

Notes: Because of licensing issues, Marvel has been unable to fully collect and reprint the comic series and has been forced to obscure references of Fu Manchu.

Commentary: Fah Lo Suee in these comics seems more akin to her appearance in the The Mask of Fu Manchu (1932) version starring Boris Karloff and Myrna Loy than in any of the novels, where she has a more limited role under the direction of her father, except for "The Daughter of Fu Manchu"  where she is standing in for her father. Here she is almost as ruthless as her father, but on a more limited scale: her goals are often inscrutable although they often in conflict with her father's, where even she has difficulty opposing him. When that happens, she often manipulates Shang-chi and his associates into helping her.

References:

5 Responses to “Fa Lo Suee — “Master of Kung Fu””

  • Darci says:

    You might also be interested in Fu Manchu's cinematic daughter, Lin Tang, portrayed by Tsai Chin in 5 films.  In particular, see 1966's "The Brides of Fu Manchu" for its hypnotic scenes.

    • HypnoMedia says:

      I’ve seen “Brides” and “Vengeance” of the five Christopher Lee “Fu Manchu” movies with Tsai Chin and she was definitely the dutiful daughter type there. She was quite potently hypnotic there, but still nowhere as powerful as her father. I mean, in the revolt scene as the end of “Brides” she has to grab one of the women and force her to stare into her eyes to entrance her, whereas all Fu Manchu had to do to command their total obedience was simply walk into the room.

      I’ll have to check: I wonder if Hammer ever released the Fu Manchu movies as a set? According to IMDb, there is a Spanish release but the last two movies of the five are in Spanish.

      • Darci says:

        Hammer won't be releasing these films, they were produced by Harry Alan Towers (his company was named Towers of London).  I don't think all 5 films in the series have been released on DVD?

        Darci

         

        • HypnoMedia says:

          So I discovered: my next post is about “The Brides of Fu Manchu”. However, the director did do two films for Hammer, including “Rasputin: the Mad Monk”, and a some of the episodes for the Hammer horror TV anthology, so I feel the misperception is somewhat justified.

  • ronin1861 says:

    In the UK, the first 3 films can be bought as a boxed set. The final two films crop up on ebay and elsewhere regularly as a pair. I recently watched all 5 recently, and can see why you would think the first 3 have a Hammer feel.

    The latter two were directed by Jess Franco, who intercuts some of his footage from another of his films (The Girl From Rio, I think) featuring Shirley Eaton. Franco also revisits the Fu Manchu, or, more accurately, 'Daughter Of…' motif in a film called 'Esclavas Del Crimen', which features Lina Romay (an occasional Franco muse) as Fah Lo Suee. I don't think that film has ever been released on DVD (Franco's output is prodigious and not all his films have seen release), but I believe it has Romay using hypnosis/mind control.

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