review for The Terror of the Tongs on AllMovie

The Terror of the Tongs (1961)
by Donald Guarisco review

Hammer Films followed up the exotic, horror-tinged adventure fare of Stranglers Of Bombay with this similarly minded outing. The Terror Of The Tongs uses old Hong Kong for a setting and goes further over the top than its predecessor: Jimmy Sangster's fast-paced script is packed with killings, maimings, flying hatchets, illicit drug use and torture. It's also pretty tin-eared in its approach to Chinese culture, presenting a sleazy, non-politically correct view of that time in Hong Kong's history. This unfortunate aspect of the film is compounded by its use of several English actors in makeup to less-than-convincingly portray Chinese characters. That said, The Terror Of The Tongs too silly to be taken seriously and viewers who can look past its cultural insensitivity will find that it's a fun, snappily paced little b-movie. Geoffrey Toone's performance as the hero is dull and a bit stiff but the other performances make up for this: Christopher Lee chews the scenery with regal flair as the film's Fu Manchu stand-in of a villain and Yvonne Monlaur is fetching as the obligatory "tragic" half-caste girl in love with the hero (despite her thoroughly out of place French accent). Elsewhere, fans of the Pink Panther series will want to note the presence of Burt Kwouk in a bit role. Behind the camera, Anthony Bushell directs the proceedings with a nice sense of economy and gives the action an appropriately colorful and pulpy look. The end result is no classic but The Terror Of The Tongs is trashy fun and an interesting time capsule of a less culturally sensitive time in mainstream filmmaking.