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Drums of Fu Manchu

28 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

In order to gain complete control of the barbaric bond of Asia, the nefarious Fu Manchu (Henry Brandon) must acquire the fabled scepter of Genghis Khan. To find the lost tomb housing the scepter, he must first locate and assemble the Cardack segment, which will disclose the location of the tomb. Opposing him is his old nemesis, Sir Nayland Smith (William Royle) and Allen Parker (Robert Kellard). The adventures range from the United States to Asia, and contain some of the most fiendish cliffhangers ever put on film. "William Witney, the greatest director of movie serials considered this to be his and Republic's best work. A gem from the golden age of movie serials: slick direction, the look of a big budget production, a diabolical villain, and lots of imaginative cliffhangers." - Hank Davis, BIG REEL Magazine. Bonus Features: Video Commentary by Scarlet Street Publisher, Richard Valley| "History of Fu Manchu" Booklet Insert by Eric Hoffman| Photo Gallery| Bios| Chapter Menu. Specs: 2-DVD9s; Dolby Digital Mono; 269 minutes; B&W; 1.33:1 Aspect Ratio; MPAA - NR; Year - 1940; SRP - $19.99.


Special Features

None.

Product Details

  • Actors: Henry Brandon, William Royle, Robert Kellard, Gloria Franklin, Olaf Hytten
  • Directors: John English, William Witney
  • Writers: Barney A. Sarecky, Franklin Adreon, Morgan Cox, Norman S. Hall, Ronald Davidson
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Black & White, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 2
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: Vci Video
  • DVD Release Date: January 28, 2003
  • Run Time: 269 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (28 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000087F3F
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #41,013 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Drums of Fu Manchu" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

64 of 66 people found the following review helpful By SwellBooks on April 2, 2003
Format: DVD
I have two words to all potential buyers of this DVD: BUY IT! It is fantastic! This is probably one of the best movie serials ever made! Fifteen exciting chapters of trains wrecks, chases, car crashes, fights, fights and more fights, featuring one of the best villians in all of fiction, Dr. Fu Manchu. Brillantly played by Henry Brandon, whom most sf/ fantasy fans may know from John Carpenter's "ASSAULT ON PRECEINT 13". He is perhaps the best Fu in movie history, even better than Boris Karloff and Christopher Lee! He is that good, I kid you not! The serial is not based on the Sax Rohmer novel of the same name, but uses some of the plot of an earlier Fu novel and the Karloff film "THE MASK OF FU MANCHU". Normally this would make me an unhappy camper, but this serial is such a joy to watch and is so exciting, that I can forgive the producers for ignoring Rohmer's great book ("DRUMS" is one of my favorite Fu novels). All of the cast is pretty good. I liked Gloria Franklin as Fu's daughter Fah Loo Suee although she mysteriously disappears from the proceedings after about 12 chapters. And fans of Universal horror films will be happy to see the familiar face of the fly-eating maniac Renfield from the Lugosi Dracula, Dwight Frye in a small role in the 5th chapter. And wait until you see Loki, the lead Dacoit, one of "Fu Manchu's men-of-murder". He's a hoot! The picture and sound on the DVD are very nice and the extra's give a nice history of both Fu Manchu and the serial. There is a nice booklet included with the "HISTORY OF FU MANCHU" by Eric Hoffman and a photo gallery on the dvd and star and director bios and filmographies. Let me close by saying: this is one great DVD. BUY IT, YOU'LL LIKE IT!!! - George Bauch.
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22 of 23 people found the following review helpful By Loring Ivanick on July 30, 2003
Format: DVD
Well put-together serial, made wonderful by Brandon's believable performance as the villain. We have a host of usual types for this kind of film supporting Brandon: the dauntless young hero, the relentless older law enforcement official, the courageous sweet young thing, her sneaky female counterpart working with the villain, the requisite professors and experts and others, all lining up in a titanic struggle of good and evil to determine who rules India. The cliffhanger endings involve a variety of fiendish plots by Fu Manchu to get rid of one or another of the heroes, so that the good guys are not just saved every episode by jumping out of a car at the last moment before it goes over the edge of a cliff or blows up . The writers actually put together a scenario that goes in one direction from beginning to end. It all comes down to Brandon as Fu Manchu though. His is the only character with any depth and he creates a believable performance. I also own the VHS of this serial and the DVD has been restored to far, far superior quality. I recommend it if you are into this kind of entertainment.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By J. Lovins HALL OF FAMEVINE VOICE on September 6, 2005
Format: DVD
VCI Entertainment and Republic Pictures present "Drums of Fu Manchu" (1940) (digitally remastered), 15 Chapters of fiendish cliffhangers mixed with hair breadth escapes ending each episode...the plot is a dangerous and exciting one as The nefarious Dr. Fu Manchu searches for the keys to the tomb of Genghis Khan, in order to fulfill a prophecy that will enable him to conquer the world...Dr. Fu Manchu nemesis is Dr. Dennis Nayland Smith, he and his associates fight to keep the evil Fu Manchu from getting his hands on the keys that will enable him to take over the world...will Fu Manchu secure the long lost scepter of Genghis Khan with which he hopes to gain control of various Himalayan tribes which in turn will lead him to eventual world domination...can the his long time nemesis Sir Nayland Smith and his young partner Allen Parker save the day...all this and more is waiting for you to savor.

Under director's John English and William Witney with stories suggested by Sax Rohmer...an Asian mysterious screenplay by Franklin Adreon and Morgan Cox...the cast include Henry Brandon as Dr. Fu Manchu (appeared in "The Searchers" as the villainous Indian Chief "Scar"), William Royle as Sir Dennis Nayland Smith (Scotland Yard), Robert Kellard as Allan Parker (the hero), Gloria Franklin as Fah-Lo-Suee (daughter of Fu Manchu), Olaf Hytten as Dr. Flinders Petrie, Tom Chatterton as Prof. Edward Randolph, Luana Walters as Mary Randolph, John Merton (Republic henchman & all around villain) as Loki, George Cleveland as Dr. James Parker and Dwight Frye (from the "Count Dracula" and "Frankenstein" films) as Prof. Anderson...another great serial provided by Republic Pictures during their heyday of the early '40s...contains the superior Republic stuntwork and action sequences that the studio was noted for.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Scott MacGillivray VINE VOICE on January 28, 2004
Format: DVD
Henry Brandon -- a master character actor who usually played villains -- got his only leading role in this 1940 Republic serial, "suggested by" Sax Rohmer's Fu Manchu stories. Brandon steals the film from the supporting players and the squadron of athletic henchmen (who do not speak -- eerie!).
The serial is about par for Republic. The plot concerns an archaeological search for the artifacts of Genghis Khan, but you won't care much. The story characters are sketchily written and competently if not brilliantly acted (although one must admire hero Robert Kellard's enthusiasm). There are the usual chases, fistfights, and narrow escapes for cliffhanger fans, and a good musical score.
As the treacherous warlord Fu Manchu, Henry Brandon's careful, eloquent performance is a masterpiece of economy. He speaks volumes with a swift extension of the forearm, a slight smirk, a raised eyebrow, a dramatic pause, a sly drawl. He even plays an effective bereavement scene. when he discovers one of his coterie has died. Brandon is far better than his material in this one.
The original negative of this serial was presumably unavailable, so the DVD producers had to make do with a copy. What survives looks like a good to excellent third-generation print in excellent physical condition. The image has more contrast and less detail than other DVDs, but it's certainly watchable and enjoyable.
All in all, a decent show made better by the leading actor.
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