In a tropical land at the foot of a volcano, “a deep grudge rankles, and ignites!”
This pulpy story of revenge and romance features takes several tried-and-true Lianhua Studio character types—innocent villagers and warlord predators, moralizing men and leggy starlets—and transports them to an exotic South Seas setting. Zheng Junli, who plays the anguished hero, later played the romantic lead in New Women (1935) and went on to be a major director, celebrated for Spring River Flows East (1947) and Crows and Sparrows (1949). Hula dancing sequences featuring Li Lili, an emerging Lianhua star, gesture to her pre-cinema career as a member of Li Jinhui’s Bright Moon Song and Dance Troupe, which toured Southeast Asia.
This subtitled version of the film uses an open-access digital copy reproduced from VHS by the Columbia University Library: https://clio.columbia.edu/catalog/14925790?counter=2
Huoshan qingxue 火山情血
Alternative English title: Blood Passions on the Volcano
Written and directed by Sun Yu 孫瑜
Cinematography: Zhou Ke 周克
Set Design: Fang Peilin 方沛霖
Produced by Lo Ming Yau (Luo Mingyou 羅明佑)
Studio: United Photoplay Service (Lianhua)
Cast: L.L. Lay (Li Lili 黎莉莉), Chen Chun-Li (Zheng Junli 鄭君里), Tan Ying 談瑛, T.S. Tong (Tang Tianxiu 湯天綉), C.C. Liu (Liu Jiqun 劉繼群), James Yuan (Yuan Congmei 袁叢美), Qian Tang 錢鏜, Sze Ko Fei (Shi Juefei 時覺非), William Kolland (Gao Weilian 高威廉), L.K. Han (Han Langen 韓蘭根)
Year of release: 1932
Subtitles translated by Christopher Rea
Subtitles created by Yuk Yee Marie Hui
Song Ke lives with his father and younger siblings in the idyllic Willow Blossom Village. Family members pray to Heaven for peace and happiness, while Song prays for a “handsome husband” for his sister, Jade. Instead, she is kidnapped by Fifth Master Cao, the nephew of a warlord. When Song and his father protest, Cao’s men frame them for theft and have them thrown in jail. Cao extorts Jade for their release, but she kills herself rather than become his fourth concubine, and Father Song and his younger son end up dead. Song Ke curses Heaven for the tragedy and flees from persecution by Cao’s thugs, leaving China for a distant tropical land of “women, red wine, strapping bodies, and naked hearts.” For three years he lives in a town of Chinese laborers at the foot of a volcano. Nursing his grudge, Song Ke gains a reputation in this rowdy boom town as “the man who never smiles” …until he meets Willow Blossom, a beautiful dancer recently hired by Coconut Grove Tavern. Initially put off by her lifestyle and her name, which reminds him of home, Song eventually falls in love with her. Then Cao arrives, recognizes Song, and has Song imprisoned again. Willow Blossom and her friends rescue Song, who confronts his sworn enemy just as the volcano erupts. As residents flee, the pair fight their way up to the top of the volcano, where Song pushes Cao in. The eruption ends, and, having avenged his family, Song Ke returns to embrace the injured Willow Blossom, who vows to live and watch him “rid humanity of all monsters.”
2023/04/23: Spider Women and Light Sabers @ SOAS
Light Sabers, Spider Women and Other Discoveries in the Digital Archives of Early Chinese Cinema April 23, 2023, 5pm Room RB01, Russell Square: College Buildings, SOAS, University of London https://www.soas.ac.uk/about/event/light-sabers-spider-women-and-other-discoveries-digital-archives-early-chinese-cinema Abstract: What can we learn about early Chinese film history from the expanding digital archive? Which stories, images, linguistic patterns, filmmaking techniques, and industry behaviors […]
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
Crows and Sparrows 烏鴉與麻雀 (1949)
An epochal film, produced and set at the end of civil war, centering on a fight over housing. Who will stay and who will go?
Spring River Flows East 一江春水向東流 (1947)
An epic melodrama in two parts. A dutiful wife struggles to keep her family together through eight years of war, only to suffer betrayal.
The Great Road 大路 (1934)
In this genre-bending romp, a band of road workers, aided by two women, build a great road to help China fight off invaders.
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. What will happen to young love when an uninhibited girl meets urban high society?