China, 7th century. On their way to a provincial centre Judge Dee and his three wives spend the night at a taoist monastery. Soon the judge discovers that the secluded place holds a secret ... See full summary »
China, 7th century. On their way to a provincial centre Judge Dee and his three wives spend the night at a taoist monastery. Soon the judge discovers that the secluded place holds a secret - the former abbot died of unnatural causes. After a number of mysterious events and more cases of murder Dee tracks down the true villain. Written by
Otto Oberhauser <Oberhauser@cc.univie.ac.at>
In the novel "The Haunted Monastery", on which this movie is based, Jade Mirror is the name of the dead, embalmed former abbot. In the movie, this name is given as that of Judge Dee's first wife. In the 16 Judge Dee books written by Robert van Gulik, Dee's first and second wives' names are never mentioned. His third wife is only mentioned by her family name, (Miss) Tsao, prior to her marriage to the magistrate. Her personal name is never given. See more »
Not only have I read all 16 of van Gulik's Judge Dee books, but also his translation of "Dee Goong An", which was the Chinese literary source for the Judge, and also a number of van Gulik's other works and source materials (including a very tedious novel in a contemporary setting). Khigh Dhiegh made an acceptable Judge, but I felt that Mako as Tao Gan was a bad piece of casting - he played the character as too fawning and not quite clever enough. Motai (Mo Mo-te in the book) was a bit overplayed. Probably the best bit of casting was Keye Luke as the arrogant Sun Ming.
On the other hand, it was refreshing to see and not a complete disappointment. I have a fairly decent tape I made from a rebroadcast of the movie in the mid-'80s with fairly good picture and sound quality.
The A&E Nero Wolfe series set a gold standard for faithfulness to sources that the '70s just weren't up to. I can only hope that someone will turn up to be for Robert H. van Gulik what Timothy Hutton was to Rex Stout.
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