The Terror of the Tongs

The Terror of the Tongs

Original UK poster
Directed by Anthony Bushell
Produced by Kenneth Hyman
Written by Jimmy Sangster
Starring Christopher Lee
Music by James Bernard
Cinematography Arthur Grant
Distributed by Columbia Pictures
Release dates
March 15, 1961
Running time
76 minutes
Country United Kingdom
Language English

The Terror of the Tongs (1961) is a Hammer Film directed by Anthony Bushell and starring Geoffrey Toone, Christopher Lee and Yvonne Monlaur.

The low-budget Hammer film is distinguished by good color photography and a strong performance by Christopher Lee as Chung King, the aphorism-quoting leader of the Hong Kong division of The Red Dragon Tong.

Plot summary

In the year of 1910, Hong Kong members of the secret Red Dragon Tong crime family protect their identities by murdering Helena Sale, the daughter of Captain Jackson Sale, a British sea officer who vows revenge and defies the spread of fear created by the Tongs. Helped by a mysterious beggar and a young serving girl named Lee, Sale discovers there's an inside traitor who's been giving vital information to the Tongs, thus making them one step ahead of Sale's findings...



The Terror of the Tongs was quickly shot within the months of April and May 1960.

The film is a quasi-remake of Hammer's 1959 film The Stranglers of Bombay. The setting is changed to Hong Kong in 1910 from India in the 19th century but the basic plot of a middle-aged, yet youthful hero attempting to uncover the crimes of a secret sect in a British colony, being captured by the sect, and later released, having a personal stake in the outcome, finding that there is an inside villain, and losing friends or family are all there.

The film is notable for Christopher Lee to receive top billing. Lee also reported to work on the film after a vacation in Northern Italy with a deep tan, which was problematic for the make-up department since his character was supposed to have very pale skin. Lee later said in interviews that the make-up to make him appear into a Chinese in this movie was the most uncomfortable make-up he had to endure up to that time.

Critical reception

The Hammer Story: The Authorised History of Hammer Films wrote of the film: "The Terror of the Tongs, perhaps thankfully a rarely-seen film, remains resolutely undistinguished in almost every department."[1]

Terror of the Tongs currently holds a three star rating (6.0/10) on IMDB.

A tie-in to the film written by Jimmy Sangster and based upon his screen-play was published by Digit books in 1961.


  1. Hearn & Barnes 2007, p. 55.
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