The Return of Chandu (1934) Poster

(II) (1934)

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A Serial Divided
BaronBl00d15 July 2007
Bela Lugosi starred as Frank AKA Chandu Chandler in 1934 in a serial called The Return of Chandu. Chandu has been popularized greatly by the 1932 film starring Edmund Lowe as Chandu and Lugosi as the arch-enemy Roxor. Now, Lugosi gets to play an atypical role for him, the hero - and he does a rather nice job through most of it despite very, very cheap production values, inferior direction, gross editing mistakes, and abysmal special effects. This Return of Chandu is the 65 minute edit that came from the original 12 chapter serial of the same title. The first half was made into this film and the second half of the serial was edited into Chandu and the Magic Isle. When considering that this is a product of a much longer serial, you must understand that you are going to have continuity problems galore and other inherent ones as well. Notwithstanding all of that, this story about Chandu fighting a group of cat worshipers(?)wanting to abduct the princess Nadji and sacrifice her on the island of Lemuria is engaging and fun. It is a very pleasant surprise to see Bela play the good guy and the hero. His magical powers are pretty suspect as we see him "disappear" and look at people very relentlessly with his hypnotizing eyes ala Dracula. Maria Alba makes a beautiful princess if nothing else and the rest of the cast is adequate. Yes, production values are limited and, yes, the editing job here was a hatchet job of the first half of the serial. The second feature, Chandu and the Magic Island, fares better as it has many of the more "action-packed" scenes.
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Cut to pieces
Leofwine_draca16 May 2020
Warning: Spoilers
THE RETURN OF CHANDU offers a rare chance for horror movie fans to see their beloved Bela Lugosi playing the heroic protagonist for once. Lugosi plays the titular investigator who intervenes when an Egyptian princess is kidnapped by a sinister Ubasti cult living on the lost island of Lemuria. I watched the condensed version of this whipcracking serial, which comes in at half the time of the original three-and-a-half-hour version. As such, it's rather choppy and poor quality, giving little time for sense of setting or place, but focusing on cliffhanger peril and island-hopping. Lugosi is great value and I did love the mythological aspects of the storytelling, straight out of WEIRD TALES-era pulp fiction.
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Two Feature Versions of Serial
Michael_Elliott11 March 2008
Return of Chandu, The (1934)

** 1/2 (out of 4)

Chandu (Bela Lugosi) has to fight off black magic in order to save a Princess who has been chosen for a sacrifies. This is the second feature version of the 15-chapter serial, which also goes by this title. The first feature version, Chandu on Magic Island has a lot more action but this version here is the overall better movie because istead of going for the "cliffhanger" sequences, this one here goes for a more character driven tale. This creates some slowness but it's nice seeing Lugosi play the good guy even though he really doesn't pull it off too well.

Chandu on the Magic Island (1935)

** (out of 4)

Second feature film made from the serial The Return of Chandu. A woman is kidnapped by a jungle tribe in order to be sacrificed so it's up to Chandu (Bela Lugosi) to rescue her. The most interesting thing is seeing Lugosi play the good guy/hero but he doesn't do too much with the role. He's pretty flat throughout the film and some of his dialogue is quite laughable. The ending is quite nice and action packed and the thing is edited down quite nicely but it doesn't work most of the time.
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