Laid-off road workers in Shanghai head to the interior to build a great road across China. Their task becomes more urgent when “the enemy” (Japan) invades, and the army needs a road to the front. A fantastic, genre-defying ensemble piece that, like Sports Queen, makes work look fun. Raymond King, the “Rudolph Valentino of Shanghai,” co-stars with Li Lili and emerging star Chen Yanyan, with musical numbers by all three and a few surprises – including a scene of full frontal nudity.
Alternative English titles: The Big Road, The Highway
Written and directed by Sun Yu
Music: George Njal (Nie Er)
Studio: United Photoplay Service (Lianhua)
Year of production: 1934
Date of release: January 1, 1935
Cast: Jin Yan, Chen Yanyan, Li Lili, Zhang Yi, Zheng Junli, Luo Peng, Han Langen, Zhang Zhizhi, Shang Guanwu, Liu Qiong, Liu Jiqun, Hong Jingling
English subtitles translated by Christopher Rea
See the video lectures and other materials in The Great Road module of the Chinese Film Classics online course.
The Great Road (1934) is discussed in chapter 5 of the book Chinese Film Classics, 1922-1949.
Special effects were common in early Chinese cinema, especially in comedies and martial arts (wuxia) films of the 1920s
Animation and Cartoons 卡通與漫畫
Early Chinese cinema included both animated films and live-action films with animated and illustrated sequences
Chen Yanyan 陳燕燕
Chen Yanyan 陳燕燕 had long film career in Republican China, post-war Taiwan, and Hong Kong, lasting from the 1930s to the 1980s
Jin Yan 金焰
Jin Yan, also known as Raymond King, was a Korea-born actor who starred in many silent films produced by Lianhua Studio
Sun Yu 孫瑜
Sun Yu, an influential film director, made his name in the silent era as one of the most prolific and talented filmmakers of United Photoplay Services (Lianhua Studio)
Li Lili 黎莉莉
Li Lili appeared as a physically robust, playful, and outgoing "sweet big sister" in many Lianhua films of the silent and sound eras.
2019/10/03-11-16: Zheng Junli films at BAMPFA
A retrospective on actor-director Zheng Junli, featuring 10 of his films, several of which were restored by BAMPFA
Jin Yan (2009), by Richard J. Meyer
Jin Yan: The Rudolph Valentino of Shanghai tells the remarkable story of the “Emperor of Film,” who dominated the golden age of Chinese silent movies. Jin Yan achieved his greatest stardom in the 1930s, when women literally threw themselves at his feet.
Love Everlasting 不了情 (1947)
A young professional woman is hired to care of the young daughter of a married man, only to find herself in an impossible position.
Sports Queen 體育皇后 (1934)
A country girl joins a women's sports academy in Shanghai and becomes a national track star. Will she learn the true athletic spirit?
Playthings 小玩意 (1933)
Artisan toymakers struggling to survive amidst war and competition from big business.
Daybreak 天明 (1933)
A young woman from the countryside, forced into prostitution, does espionage to aid the Northern Expedition.
Wild Rose 野玫瑰 (1932)
A vivacious country lass and a rich Shanghai boy fall in love. But what will happen to young love when an uninhibited girl meets urban high society?
The Peach Girl 桃花泣血記 (1931)
The Peach Girl co-stars Ruan Lingyu and Jin Yan as lovers in rural China tragically separated by social class.