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一剪梅 (1931)
A Spray of Plum Blossoms

Reviewed by: STSH
Date: 03/16/2013
Summary: So-so ensemble piece

Although Ruan Lingyu is given start billing, she is only one of an ensemble, and the film suffers as a result. Lingyu had just become China's top film star, and it is puzzling to see her being given an essentially marginal role. Her character is rich, spoilt, vain and therefore unsympathetic, and this may be the reason.

As the plot description demonstrates, this is essentially a soap opera, played against a military background. The characters are pleasant to watch and the story ticks along at a fair pace, but it is nothing remarkable. I guess it is all too easy to look back and say this would have been better as a Lingyu vehicle, but I found it hard to remain interested when Lingyu stayed offscreen for too long.

The BoYing DVD suffers a few problems. The print is washy and flickering. There was clearly no effort taken for restoration here. The camera even wanders out of focus a couple of times. For about half an hour in the middle, the intertitles are screened backwards (!).

The DVD has English subtitles, which may seem redundant when there are English intertitles. There are problems here, too. For 20 minutes in the middle, the subtitles run one behind the intertitles ! Also, it is clear that the Englsh subs were primarily translated from the Chinese, as they stray at times hilariously from the intertitles.

My favourite intertitle is this one, near the end. "I will have breakfast first before I knock you down". Nothing like getting one's priorities right.

Reviewer Score: 6