Wednesday, June 6, 2018

So I watched "Charlie Chan and the Curse of the Dragon Queen" (1981) and it was alright


I love these yellow-face detective films from the 1940's. Charlie Chan (various actors portrayed this character), Mister Moto (Peter Lore), Mr. Wong (Boris Karloff), The Mysterious Mr. Wong (Bela Legosi; not a detective, but a villain) are all wonderful characters from wonderful films. It's a shame though that these movies will likely be buried because of their politically incorrect undertone. It's also a shame that these roles couldn't have be filled by actual Asian actors. I think Charlie Chan was only voiced by an Asian actor in the Hanna-Barbera animated "The Amazing Chan and the Chan Clan" cartoon series. 

"Charlie Chan and the Curse of the Dragon Queen" (1981) was, as far as I know, the last hurrah for the Charlie Chan character. It's almost a spoof actually, but it's still trying to be a Charlie Chan story. As a comedy it's not as funny as I hoped it would be, and it's not even that interesting of a mystery. It falls apart on both ends, but I still find it likable. What saves it all are the performances of the cast, who seem to be really trying to keep this thing together. Peter Ustinov plays Charlie Chan in this so once again we're back to a non-Asian playing an Asian character, but he somehow doesn't lay it on too thick with the accent or the performance, and like previous actors in the role, Ustinov tries to portray Chan as a man of reverence with a sly and dry sense of humor. So it works I guess, but I feel like his performance would be better suited in a better movie; it felt like he was playing it too straight for this slapstick like flick.

So hey, if this is the last Charlie Chan film to have ever been made, it could have been worse. I enjoyed it enough to go back to it someday, but if you want to watch a great Charlie Chan flick watch any of the original films. This Charlie Chan movie is just a novelty in the series.

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