The Film (3/5)
Throughout his forty year acting career, iconic horror star Bela Lugosi has been in some great classics such as Dracula, The Raven and The Body Snatcher , some super schlock including Bride of the Monster, and Return of the Ape Man and a few that fell somewhere in between “classic” and “schlock” such as The Devil Bat, and White Zombie. Another film that I feel is another one of his middle of the road is the 1932 ‘classic’ Chandu, the Magician. In Chandu he plays an evil, heartless, madman, named Roxor. Desiring to take over the Earth, Roxor has kidnapped an inventor Robert Regent (Henry B. Walthall) and his death ray invention to do just that. Roxor who is closing in on accomplishing his task of taking over the world, is thwarted by the hero, a magician-yogi named Chandu aka Frank Chandler (Edmund Lowe, the actual star of the movie).
The film is a harmless entertaining, and yes, dated seventy one minutes of pure hokum, but it’s still fun with an explosive climax. Chandu the Magician has lots of great special effects, which were a little ahead of its time. If watching grown men in turbans fight it out is your thing, then you cannot afford to miss this movie! Chandu would return in a serial, with Lugosi assuming the role.
Chandu the Magician debuts on blu ray courtesy of Kino Lorber. The movie is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1:37:1, in 1080p with an MPEG 4 AVC encode. The image quality ranges from really striking to subpar with a few jump cuts, some horizontal lines, scratches and print damage, all due to the age of the film. Black levels are solid; the gray scale is perfectly fine. Grain is present throughout, with no DNR applied to the release. There are plenty of scenes in Chandu where the film just looks fantastic. It basically looks like film, and overall I found the image quality to my liking despite some shortcomings. The audio quality for the movie is the usual Kino DTS-HD Master Audio English 2.0. Dialog and special effects sounds all come in loud and clear.
Kino has supplied us with a few extras for Chandu, the Magician. We get an audio commentary by Bela Lugosi Biographer Gregory William Mank, a featurette entitled Masters of Magic: The World of Chandu, plus a restoration comparison. Rounding out the extras are trailers for The Black Sleep and White Zombie, which are two other Bela Lugosi movies that were released by Kino Lorber. Not too bad for a movie from 1932!
Chandu, the Magician may not be to everyone’s taste, but fans who love early thirties movies and of course Bela Lugosi should give this movie a try. I would call this a great Sunday morning matinee kind of a movie. This release from Kino is about as good as it will get. The image, while far from perfect is more than suitable with some extras to please fans of supplements.