This serial seems to be the earliest surviving film appearance of Dr. Fu Manchu. Unlike subsequent Fu Manchu films, these 13 episodes are essentially faithful (though abridged) adaptations of the events in Sax Rohmer's original stories, which are posted here for comparison. Each episode is a self-contained story, with no cliffhangers.
The protagonist duo of Nayland Smith and Dr. Petrie is, superficially at least, an obvious imitation of Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson, with Dr. Fu Manchu taking the archvillain role of Prof. Moriarty. But in Fu Manchu stories, it is the genius of the archvillain that is the focus - not the cleverness of the detective. Nayland Smith admits: “I am a child striving to cope with a mental giant”.
Thankfully, the film adaptation ditched the repetitive narration of Dr. Petrie, with its endless vitriol against the so-called “Eastern race”. Of course, as faithful adaptations, these episodes maintain the Yellow Peril theme that is central to the story, but less explicitly.