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Famous detective Charlie Chan is called out of retirement to help a San Francisco detective solve a mysterious series of murders. With his bumbling grandson as his sidekick, Chan also encounters an old nemesis known as the Dragon Queen who is the prime suspect. Written by
Charlie Chan and the Curse of the Dragon Queen was a huge disappointment for me
Having just spent the last several days reviewing past Charlie Chan movies in series chronological order, not to mention previously reviewing Charlie Chan in Paris back in 2006, I decided to finally watch this spoof of the great Honolulu detective that I just bought on VHS from a used video store. In summary, this was a clumsy, jumbled slapstick mess that only rated a few chuckles from me due to some witty lines near the end. And Peter Ustinov is wasted as Chan as he sounds more like an Englishman impersonating a Chinese man than more convincing portrayals from the likes of Warner Oland and Sidney Toler (I have yet to rewatch a Roland Winters one that I haven't seen in 30 years). And how convenient to have his grandson Lee, Jr.'s (Richard Hatch) parents (one of whom is Jewish) be killed in a car crash so as not to have Keye Luke make an appearance. ("No. 1 Son" as a young man here is played by David Hirokane) The fact that he's not there nor is Earl Derr Biggers credited as creator here is just as well since this movie does nothing to honor their contributions. And the supporting cast of Hatch, Lee Grant, Rachel Roberts, Roddy McDowall, Brian Keith, and, in one of her earliest roles, Michelle Pfeiffer are just wasted as well, never mind Angie Dickinson as the Dragon Queen. Director Clive Donner seems to want to do a Mel Brooks-like parody down to the Blazing Saddles-like climax but there's nothing the least bit creatively funny here. So on that note, I'd only recommend Charlie Chan and the Curse of the Dragon Queen for anyone curious about the treatment of this once-iconic hero. P.S. Screenwriter David Axelrod is another of these film and TV members I'm citing as born in my birthtown of Chicago, Ill.
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