An odd little pre-Code film here, with Karloff in the rather bizarre title role. Love the set designs and German Expressionist inspired lighting, and the Chinese torture methods are pretty unique. Karloff is a giant for a Chinese dude, but then again, maybe Fu Manchu was Yao Ming's grandpa. 4 stars, if you can get past the occasional racist undertone of the film.
Outrageous camp avant la lettre with the most cinematically inventive scenes reserved for its many extended & baroque sadomasochistic fantasias. (Brandishing its racism so flagrantly, it offends far less than more subtly venomous films. Read as a gloss on the garish anxieties of a certain type of Western mind it might even edify: after all fear of the 'Yellow Peril' hasn't so much gone away today as gone underground)
Great politically incorrect fun. Karloff has a grand old time here, and so will you. I can't imagine anyone not rooting for Karloff's Fu Manchu to wipe out the terribly stuffy white race, especially as embodied by Lewis Stone. There's some great pre-Code beefcake in the person of the hunky Charles Starrett, too. And Myrna Loy -- how can anyone resist?
Blatant racism aside, this classic is easily the best film adaptation of Sax Rohmer's pulp adventure stories. Boris Karloff is perfect (except for one glaring detail) as the fiendish Chinese madman. Maybe a bit stodgy plot-wise, but it makes up for it with a number of lurid, over-the-top set pieces. Worth watching for the Expressionistic lighting and extravagant production design alone.