Charlie Chan and the Curse of the Dragon Queen

Watch Charlie Chan and the Curse of the Dragon Queen

"Murderer who turn victim into human baked potato have real appetite for crime."
  • PG
  • 1981
  • 1 hr 35 min
  • 4.0  (1,394)

Charlie Chan and the Curse of the Dragon Queen is a 1981 comedy-mystery film that follows detective Charlie Chan as he investigates a series of bizarre murders during a theatrical production of "The Mikado" in San Francisco. Each of the victims was dressed in Japanese garb and had a dragon-shaped mark on their forehead. The film stars Peter Ustinov as Chan, Lee Grant as his love interest, and Angie Dickinson as the titular Dragon Queen. This is the first and only time Ustinov played the Chinese-American detective. The film also features a supporting cast of notable actors, including Richard Hatch, Roddy McDowall, Michelle Pfeiffer, and Brian Keith.

The plot of the film begins when the famous opera star, Dragon Queen, arrives in San Francisco to play the lead role in "The Mikado." Soon after, murders start happening on the set of the play. Charlie Chan is called in to investigate, and he quickly realizes that there is a connection between the murders and the legend of the Dragon Queen, which tells of a curse that befalls anyone who comes into contact with her.

As the investigation progresses, Chan and his team uncover a web of lies, mistrust, and hidden relationships. Everyone involved with the production has a motive to kill, including the overbearing director, the ambitious producer, the jealous understudy, and the vengeful ex-lover. With every lead he uncovers, Chan gets closer to the truth and to the dangerous culprit who is determined to protect the Dragon Queen's curse.

Throughout the film, Peter Ustinov's portrayal of Charlie Chan is charming, witty, and intelligent. He brings a different flair to the character than the previous actors who played Chan. His performance is much less formal and less serious, imbuing Charlie Chan with a sense of humor and a lightness that makes the character even more endearing. He also has excellent chemistry with Lee Grant's character, and their romance gives the film a touch of sweetness and romance.

Angie Dickinson's performance as the Dragon Queen is also notable. She is sultry, mysterious, and steals every scene she is in. Her costumes and makeup add to her character's allure and make her the focal point of every frame she appears in. However, her performance sometimes verges on overacting, making it hard to take her character seriously.

The film boasts a colorful production design that captures the look and feel of the late 1970s and early 1980s. It is stylized, campy, and full of vivid colors, reflecting the colorful and flamboyant nature of the theater world. The film is a celebration of theatrical culture, and it shows in every aspect, from the set design to the costumes.

Overall, Charlie Chan and the Curse of the Dragon Queen is an entertaining, lighthearted film that blends mystery, comedy, and romance. It is a departure from the typical Charlie Chan films, but it is worth watching for Peter Ustinov's performance and the excellent supporting cast. The film is a fun, nostalgic ride that will transport you to the glamorous and theatrical world of early 1980s San Francisco.

Charlie Chan and the Curse of the Dragon Queen
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  • Release Date
  • MPAA Rating
  • Runtime
    1 hr 35 min
  • IMDB Rating
    4.0  (1,394)