“The Brides of Fu Manchu” (1966)

Video ID not provided: Please check your shortcode.Video ID not provided: Please check your shortcode.


The mas­ter of evil takes a harem of horror! 

Would-be world con­queror Fu Manchu returns, hold­ing the beau­ti­ful daugh­ters (are there ever any oth­ers?) of impor­tant sci­en­tists in order to black­mail their fathers. With their help, he is able to con­struct a device capa­ble of trans­mit­ting destruc­tive ener­gy from his moun­tain strong­hold any­where in the world. How­ev­er, his eter­nal foe, Sir Den­nis Nay­land Smith, is always ready to con­test the sin­is­ter Man­dar­in’s plot. 

The hyp­not­ic action starts imme­di­ate­ly: sci­en­tist Otto Lentz is brought before Fu Manchu and his sin­is­ter daugh­ter Lin Tang (played by Tsai Chin: it is obvi­ous that she is sup­posed to be Fah Lo Suee.) in a throne room lined with the placid forms of a multi­na­tion­al group of young women, all the “brides” of Fu Manchu. There, he is ordered to coop­er­ate. When he refus­es, his beau­ti­ful daugh­ter Marie is brought forth, look­ing equal­ly as placid, is if drugged. She is led before Lin Tang, who takes the girl’s head in her hands and clos­es the girl’s eyes with her thumbs. When released, Marie opens her eyes to stare direct­ly in the eyes of her cap­tor. Just that eas­i­ly, Marie is under the con­trol of Lin Tang and Fu Manchu. At their direc­tion, she sends anoth­er of the “brides” to her death, and her father is black­mailed with the threat of awak­en­ing her with the full knowl­edge of her action. Only then does the audi­ence get an idea of what the sin­is­ter Man­dar­in’s plot is: the sci­en­tists have all been work­ing on parts of a device that will trans­mit destruc­tive radio waves to any­where in the world. With it, he plans to destroy an upcom­ing arms con­fer­ence, sow­ing dis­or­der and chaos in the West. 

Sir Den­nis Nay­land Smith, how­ev­er, is always there to oppose the sin­is­ter Man­darin, and through his inves­ti­ga­tion into the dis­ap­pear­ances of the “brides” is try­ing to pre­vent the next dis­ap­pear­ance. To that end, he employs the help of Franz Bauer, Marie’s fiancee, and arranges for him to be tak­en in place of the next sci­en­tist on Fu Manchu’s list. Lack­ing the aid of the sci­en­tist, and with Nay­land Smith clos­ing in on both the Lon­don hide­out and Fu Manchu’s hid­den lair, the final assault on the con­fer­ence goes ter­ri­bly awry, as the trans­mit­ter is over­loaded and the entire instal­la­tion destroyed. Befit­ting their sta­tus, Fu Manchu and Lin Tang escape through a secret pas­sage and sur­vive the destruc­tion, in order to return in the next movie. 

There are three oth­er hyp­not­ic scenes: the first, when Lin Tang enters the din­ing room with all of the “brides” to take Otto Lentz away; the sec­ond, when anoth­er of the “brides” is brought before Fu Manchu; and the last is dur­ing the riot when the “brides” attempt to escape. There is also a brief moment at the end of the movie, after all of the “brides” were res­cued and Fu Manchu’s lair destroyed, when they all pause, turn and stare blankly back at the ruin, as if hear­ing the voice of Fu Manchu com­mand­ing them one last time. 

  • In the first, Lentz and Marie are say­ing good­bye when Lin Tang enters the room: at that moment, all of the girls stand and are entranced. Marie, even, is com­plete­ly obliv­i­ous to her father, see­ing and hear­ing only Ling Tang. 
  • In the sec­ond, the bride is ter­ri­fied by the sight of a pit full of snakes, then, in her ter­ri­fied state, is mes­mer­ized by Fu Manchu himself. 
  • In the last, dur­ing the riot as the “brides” are bat­tling the guards. Into that chaos strides Lin Tang, who takes one of the women by the shoul­ders and stares into her eyes, entranc­ing her. How­ev­er, anoth­er of the “brides” sees that and knocks Lin Tang uncon­scious. Not so when the impe­ri­ous Fu Manchu enters, as which point every one of the “brides” falls back into their placid trance state. 

The above clip is actu­al­ly from two dif­fer­ent movies of this series: the first half is from the third movie, “The Vengeance of Fu Manchu”, while the sec­ond half, start­ing at about 0:53, is from this movie, and is a longer and bet­ter ver­sion of the scene shown pre­vi­ous­ly. It also speaks of Marie being “pre­pared” which tends to con­firm that she is some­how drugged. Just ignore the ran­dom clip insert­ed some­how in the middle. 

Com­men­tary: The sec­ond of five Fu Manchu movies star­ring Christo­pher Lee in the title role. “The Brides of Fu Manchu”, a sequel to The Face of Fu Manchu” of the pre­vi­ous year. It has noth­ing to do with the nov­el “The Bride of Fu Manchu”, which is about 

It should be not­ed that this is the first time that Fah Lo Suee (or what­ev­er she is named in the movies) was played by a true Asian actress: before this, the char­ac­ter was always por­trayed by a West­ern actress, includ­ing Myr­na Loy.

Rec­om­men­da­tion: For sheer his­tor­i­cal val­ue, I would rec­om­mend the movie, if it can be found. Christo­pher Lee has a cer­tain amount of sedate fun in this movie, which I believe is the best of the five of this series, and pos­si­bly of all the lat­er Fu Manchu movies, which is not real­ly say­ing much. 

Note: For years, I thought these were Ham­mer films, what with Christo­pher Lee star­ring in them: the look was so sim­i­lar to the Ham­mer style it was pret­ty easy to con­fuse the two, as direc­tor Don Sharp also direct­ed such Ham­mer clas­sics as Rasputin: The Mad Monk” and The Kiss of the Vam­pire” , as well as a num­ber of “Avengers” TV episodes and an episode of the “Ham­mer House of Hor­ror” anthol­o­gy TV series. The “Avengers” con­nec­tion also car­ries over to his Direc­tor oh Pho­tog­ra­phy, Ernest Stew­ard who also worked the series. 

Triv­ia: If you watch care­ful­ly, you will see a some­what famil­iar face: one of the guards, Feng, was played by Burt Kwouk, who is famous for play­ing Cato on the Peter Sell­ers “Pink Pan­ther” movies. Kwouk has a very long act­ing  resumé, includ­ing oth­er Fu Manchu films, and is still work­ing today.

2 comments to “The Brides of Fu Manchu” (1966)

  • Darci

    I assumed the “prepa­ra­tion” allud­ed to in Michelle’s case was the ter­ror­iz­ing shown in Mari­a’s case. It’s inter­est­ing to com­pare the length of the instruc­tions Lin Tang uses (“You have no mind, no will of your own. Your only thought is to obey”) with her father’s (“Obey.”)

    You may also be inter­est­ed in 1968’s “The Blood of Fu Manchu”. There’s no hyp­no­tism (at least I don’t think there is) but there is mind control.

    • HypnoMedia

      I don’t think the “prepa­ra­tion” involved any­thing like being ter­ror­ized: she looks too calm and placid for that. Her rather serene expres­sion make me sus­pect she was drugged.