“This girl has always lived on the edge of danger!”
A golden-eyed bird has carried away the young scion of the Yan family of Date-Tree Village. Who will save him? A donkey is stolen from Emperor Zhang Temple at night, and a challenge knifed to the wall. Who will take on the mysterious thief Lil’ Slim? The dastardly Snail Valley bandits have been plaguing villagers. Who will expel them from Deerhorn Gully?
Enter Fang Yuqin, the Woman Warrior of the Wild River!
Approximately 74 minutes survive of this silent action-adventure film, the sixth in a series, featuring the exploits of the woman warrior Fang Yuqin (played by Xu Qinfang). In this episode, “Rumble at Deerhorn Gully,” Fang and her comrade at arms, Yue Jianqiu (played by He Zhigang), get embroiled in fights against beasts and bandits while on their way to storm Tianwang Temple.
“Wild Woman of the Wild River” exhibits several typical characteristics of the martial arts film craze of the late 1920s and early 1930s, including: a swashbuckling adventure story serialized over several films centering on a heroic swordswoman, eye-catching costumes, extensive special effects (including animation), bilingual Chinese-English intertitles, and extended fight sequences shot both on location and in studio sets. Don’t miss the winged beast attack at minute 9 or the bandit “rumble” in the final 8 minutes of the surviving film.
“Woman Warrior of the Wild River” was adapted from a 91-chapter, 1.2 million-character novel of the same title by Gu Mingdao 顧明道 (1879-1944), which began serialization in the literary supplement major Shanghai newspaper The News (Xinwen bao 新聞報) in 1928. (Sequels followed.)
Appearing in supporting roles are two actors who became regulars of United Photoplay Services (Lianhua Film Studio), which was founded in 1930. Both appear in typecast roles that they would revisit in UPS productions: Shang Guanwu as patriarch and Zhang Zhizhi as a comic glutton, “Zhang the Fool.”
The surviving digital copy contains one duplicate segment of approximately 4 minutes, which has been cut from this version.
Huangjiang nüxia di liu ji: Da’nao Lujiaogou
Directors: Chen Kengran 陳鏗然 and Shang Guanwu 尚冠武
Year of production: 1930
74 minutes (surviving portion of film)
Cast: Xu Qinfang 徐琴芳, He Zhigang 賀志剛, Zhang Zhizhi 章志直, Shang Guanwu 尚冠武
English subtitles translated by Frank S. Zhou
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
An Amorous History of the Silver Screen (2005), by Zhang Zhen
The first sustained historical study of the emergence of cinema in China, An Amorous History of the Silver Screen is a fascinating narrative that illustrates the immense cultural significance of film and its power as a vehicle for social change.
Hua Mu Lan 木蘭從軍 (1939)
A young woman takes her father's place in the army and protects the Tang empire from invaders in this wartime adaptation of the Mulan legend.
Woman Warrior White Rose 女俠白玫瑰 (1929)
In this partially-extant silent action film, a female athlete becomes a swashbuckling hero and saves the family herding ground from a gang who plans to sell it to foreigners
Red Heroine 紅俠 (1929)
A poor young woman trains in magic martial arts and revenges her father and her village in this silent wuxia film.