Thursday, July 3, 2014
THE TERROR OF THE TONGS
"Why is it these occidentals indulge in their vices the same way they run their lives, with noise and vulgarity?"
Chung King (Christopher Lee) is the imperious leader of the Red Dragon Tong, which -- like a mafia -- controls and terrifies the citizens of Hong Kong near the turn of the century. Anyone who dares to speak out against or betray them winds up horribly murdered. The members of the Tong go too far, however, when they slay the daughter of a British captain named Jackson Sale (Geoffrey Toone). Aided by some who are secretly working against the tong, including the lovely former slave girl, Lee (Yvonne Monlaur) and a certain beggar (Marne Maitland), Sale decides that the tong's reign of terror must come to an end. Dr. Fu Choa (Charles Lloyd Pack) tries to give Sale a lethal injection, and Chung King arranges for his enforcer to use thin needles to painfully scrape Sale's bones down to the very marrow in one very interesting torture sequence. Lee -- who would later play Fu Manchu in a number of movies -- gives an excellent performance, and the rest of the cast is at the very least enthusiastic and watchable; Maitland is especially notable. The film is well-directed, extremely well-edited, well-photographed by Arthur Grant [The Abominable Snowman], and has an exciting score by James Bernard [Dracula Prince of Darkness].
Verdict: Done with the usual Hammer studios aplomb. ***.