17 January 2008 | MartinHafer
Don't expect the same magic you got in CHANDU THE MAGICIAN
The Black Magic cult of Ubasti needs to kidnap the last known living princess from Egypt so they can sacrifice her to their cat god. However, the good swami Chandu won't let this happen and spends most of the movie fighting these evil goons until they are, naturally, vanquished.
Since this film is called THE RETURN OF CHANDU, you can rightly assume it is a sequel. Just a short time earlier, Edmund Lowe starred as the Westerner who learned the secrets of the yogis. Using these great mental powers, he was able to save a kidnapped scientist and stop the death ray from being used on mankind! For a Saturday morning escapist suspense film, it was a dandy and Bela Lugosi was there to provide wonderful color as the evil villain.
Oddly, in this film, Lowe is nowhere to be seen and Lugosi actually plays Chandu!! So in the first film he was a super-villain and here a super-hero! Plus, in the first film he had a wife and kids, while in this film he hangs with his sister and her two grown kids and by the end of the film he's wooing a young lady!! Talk about continuity problems!!!
This film is a bit similar to the plot in the original, since it involves kidnapping but the level of excitement and the many, many wonderful and weird story elements from the original film are missing. Missing as well is the comic relief--making this film good, but certainly nowhere near the film the original was. Oddly, while it was made by Universal Studios, the film looked pretty cheap and was an obviously low budget film. Apparently, originally, this film was the first half of a serial of the same name. The second half was retitled CHANDU ON THE MAGIC ISLAND and is significantly worse than this first half. Still, it is entertaining and fans of Bela Lugosi will no doubt find it worth seeing.
A final note--The DVD version of this film I saw was from Passport Video and was of very dubious quality (it came in "The Bela Lugosi Box"). This company specializes in releasing public domain films and consistently does nothing to clean up the prints. This one was almost unwatchable due to terrible sound and no captioning. Also, Passport imprints their logo at the bottom right corner of the screen--which seems like a lot of nerve considering they didn't pay for the film!! Public domain AND emblazoning their name across it like they made the film?! Gimme a break. See if you can find a different and cleaner version.