Wednesday 10 April 2024

Judge Dee's Mystery - A Wuxia Detective Story

It is no secret that I am a fan of Wuxia cinema, even the one with Jackie Chan and Arnold Schwarzenegger

Imagine my surprise when I saw that Netflix had a Detective Dee TV Show.

Who is Judge Dee?

If you are unfamiliar with Judge Dee (also known as Detective Dee), this is a series of Chinese historical mystery novels written by Robert van Gulik, a dutch orientalist and diplomat.  Van Gulik translated the 18th Century novel Dee Goong An into English as The Celebrated Cases of Judge Dee. Van Gulik went on to write a further 16 novels in this same style until his death in 1967

The eponymous hero of the novel (Di Renjie) was in fact a real life courtesan of the Tang dynasty between 630 and 700 AD.

Other Detective Dee Adaptations 

I first encountered Detective Dee in the 2010 movie Detective Dee and the Mystery of the Phanton Flame where Di Renjie is played to perfection by Andy Lau.  This had all the sumptuos cinematography of Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon wrapped up in a detective mystery overcoat with plenty of swordplay and great visual effects.

Next for me was Young Detective Dee: The Rise of the Sea Dragon which sees a young Di Renjie tackle his first ever case.

These were not Detective Dee's first cinematic outings.  You can actually watch an early adaptation called Judge Dee and the Monastery Murders (1974) via youtube.

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