You may remember that last year, I pointed out that famous director Tsui Hark was supposed to be working on a movie about Judge Dee, legendary Chinese magistrate and famous minister. Judge Dee is the best known legendary magistrate-detective in the West, because he also became the hero of a classic series of magistrate-detective novels by that eccentric Dutch diplomat, musician, scholar, and… um… bon vivant, Robert H. Van Gulik.
Anyway, it seems that Judge Dee will get his Tsui Hark movie. Shooting has started in Hengdian, and so it’s only a matter of time. The movie stars Andy Lau as Di Ren Jie. Carina Lau is Empress Wu, who calls the exiled Dee back from the wilds to solve a series of murders that’s delaying her accession. There’s also the empress’ maid, who knows martial arts, military man Commander Bei, and the Ghost Doctor, master of disguise.
The Chinese title is Kingdom to Heaven. The current English title is Detective Dee and the Mystery of the Phantom Flame.
This is so cool! And the bit about the rags costume sounds like Judge Dee will disguise himself as a beggar or a poor medicine peddler, which is just like the stories! Yay!
This website has some very nice pictures of Judge Dee stuff. It also claims that the reason Dee worked with Empress Wu was to be in position to restore the Li clan to power and found the Tang Dynasty. Well, that’s a nice theory to run with.
Also, it says that at the beginning and end of Chinese opera, a red-robed, white-masked actor often appears, who stands for Judge Dee as a deity in charge of prosperous careers and quick promotion, and who symbolically blesses the audience. This silent role is generally translated as “the God of Fortune”, and he does “the Promotion Dance”. Hm. Interesting. There are apparently a lot of Chinese gods who get called gods of fortune, though maybe the career thing sets him apart. Even the guy from Three Kingdoms is a freakin’ god of fortune.
This brings up an interesting question.
The graves of Judge Dee and Judge Bao and so forth are known, because they were real people in history. However, they were deified back then by the government and people, and are still apparently worshipped by many. (And apparently personal monotheism was no protection from popular deification, as Judge Bao may have been Jewish and Hai Rui was certainly Muslim.)
So what would the proper procedure be, if you visited their graves and wished to pray for someone who is deified by some, without giving the impression you supported praying to them as gods? I realize this isn’t something likely to affect me personally any time soon, but it’s a situation that could easily come up in today’s global society. There must be standard procedures for Chinese Catholics in China, but they aren’t known to me.