Chandu the Magician - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Chandu the Magician Reviews

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May 18, 2018
Previously a radio serial, the titular magician (who learned his trade from the yogis of the East) is called to Egypt to stop evil Roxor who has stolen the plans for a death ray and plans to use it! Bela Lugosi makes a great diabolical Roxor but Edmund Lowe is just serviceable as Chandu (though not for lack of trying). The direction by art department stalwart William Cameron Menzies (Things to Come, 1936) and Marcel Varnel keeps things moving with some surprises (secret doors and the like) and only a few dull moments. Special effects boost the scenes where Chandu uses his magic and the sets are better than average. There is a love interest (Irene Ware) and also a teenage daughter (June Lang) who gets kidnapped and put up at a slave auction (remember this is "pre-code"). There are a lot of white people playing Egyptians or Indians and, if there weren't some on both the good side and the bad side, the racism might be a bit more overt. But fortunately, everything is played with good humour and the main source of comic relief is a drunken British ex-soldier, now servant (played by character actor Herbert Mundin, also seen in The Adventures of Robin Hood, 1939). All told, an okay adventure story with elements that elevate it beyond the standard for the usual b-pictures of the day.
February 23, 2018
Fantastic fun and prime, sexy Lugosi in a lavish well produce non-horror film. Much better than you might expect. Raiders of the Lost Ark for the 1930's.
½ September 19, 2015
Plenty ridiculous movie featuring Edmund Lowe as Chandu, a magician of undetermined eastern ethnicity fighting Roxor, a bad guy again of undetermined eastern ethnicity (but sounding a lot Hungarian) who wants to get his hands on a "death ray". Lots of cool special effects for 1932.
½ July 18, 2015
Chandu The Magician is a lively tale full of special effects that were the state of the art for its day. It also features Bela Lugosi at his evil best, delivering an over-the-top villain that drives the story, and the need for the many wonders performed by Edmund Lowe's Chandu. Almost every photographic technique of the industry was employed in this film, and is, in that respect, one of the few films of the time comparable to King Kong (released the following year). It is also a Pre-Code film, with a special treat showing a cute blond being pawed and disrobed on a slave block for a horde of Middle Eastern merchants. I strongly recommend this film. - Ralph
½ January 8, 2015
A certain precursor to the Indiana Jones films!
½ July 11, 2014
ok pre-code actioner
August 20, 2013
Watchable fantasy thriller with Bela Lugosi as an evil scientist developing a death ray and Edmund Lowe as the titular Chandu trying to stop him.
½ July 25, 2011
An uneven pulp adventure offers a surprising amount of style and atmosphere, with some imaginative imagery and solid vintage special effects. Unfortunately, the story isn't quite up to the task; a muddled potboiler with bland characters and some annoying attempts at comic relief - though it does get better in its explosive climax. Can be slow-going at times, but worth a look for fans of fantasy films of this era.
July 22, 2011
I am surprised that this piece of awesome pulp action is a total obscurity. It has death rays, mystic yogis, a beautiful princess, an Egyptian temple, hypnosis, telepathy, a sandstorm, Bela Lugosi as a James Bond villain, etc., etc. The special effects are superb. The sets are impressive. James Wong Howe's cinematography is beautiful. It's like Enter the Dragon in being the complete pulp movie.
½ December 30, 2010
This was great fun. Fast paced with great special effects by Menzies. Based on a radio show of the time. Had the "feel" of a serial. A solid 1932 pre-code film.
Super Reviewer
½ September 3, 2010
A fantastic adventure film from the thirties. Lugosi is great in this movie too. I highly recommend this one.
November 6, 2008
Camels. Stone temples. Bela Lugosi. Death Ray. You decide.
½ November 4, 2008
It's fun to root for Bela/Roxor in this fondue pot of racist nonsense.
October 14, 2008
With Egyptian magic, a death ray and Bela Lugosi, this could of been the greatest movie ever. Sadly, it's more interested in the magic hero then the death ray so it kind of lumbers about after a great first 3rd.
October 5, 2008
This is Bela Lugosi in his prime. His performance as the evil Roxan is definitely the best part of this old, Saturday matinee movie. I did not care at all, however, for Edmund Lowe as Chandu. The sets are large, the visual effects pretty good for the time, and the pacing is rapid-fire (as all good serials should have).
September 29, 2008
Cheesy, sure. But an entertaining adventure flick, kind of a proto-Indiana Jones, but with a hero who can turn guns into snakes WITH THE POWER OF HYPNOSIS!.
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