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Customer Review

6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A great martial arts film first, and a decent historical drama second., April 6, 2012
This review is from: The Woman Knight of Mirror Lake (Blu-ray/DVD Combo) (Blu-ray)
The story of Chinese Revolutionary, Qiu Jin is extremely remarkable and deserves a movie. While The Woman Knight of Mirror Lake may not be an Oscar caliber drama, and the great actions scenes aren't realistic, it doesn't take away from the fact that this is still a well made and engaging film.

Sometimes, I'm very critical of the way women are portrayed in movies. Not to say that I'm a prude, but I hate it when female characters are helpless recipients of abuse who never get their payback. It had been a while since I've seen a film where a woman dominates and Crystal Yi Huang is very good in the titular role. As the real Qiu Jin was a disciplined martial artist, Yi-Huang trained very hard in preparation for the film, and it certainly paid of for her.

Her fight scenes are very good and stunt doubles are only used sparingly. Dennis To and Xiong Xin Xin also have some very good fight scenes, including a showdown between the two that's very intricate as they use rifles as meleé weapons while a huge battle is happening around them.

Anthony Wong and Lam Suet are also present and give welcomed performances.

It's not often in Asian action cinema that women are featured so prominently outside of a "flower vase" role. There were the "Girls with Guns" films of Hong Kong, but it was nice to see a female character who wasn't just physically strong, but mentally as well. Especially in a dramatic period piece setting.

When Qiu Jin has an arranged marriage, she at first wants to get to know her husband and love him, but she wants to be his equal as well, and she shows assertiveness when she realizes it's a loveless marriage and he wants her to be a "yes-woman." She loves her children too, but she has to make an extremely painful choice to leave them in order for her to fight for the things she believes in. Yi-Huang is especially heartfelt in these scenes, and as hard as it may be to sympathize with someone who leaves their family, the movie shows that it wasn't a simple decision.

I felt a little funny about the narrative of the story since it takes place during her final days while the bulk of the story is told through flashbacks. I would have preferred a more chronological story-telling, but the movie was still pretty easy to follow.

I knew nothing of Qiu Jin before this film, and I can imagine some history buffs would be annoyed at the liberties taken in the story as well as the film's preference of action over drama, but I wanted to know more about the real Woman Knight of Mirror Lake, and I would hope that the film encourages others to learn about her too.
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Location: Phoenix, AZ

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