When Qiu Jin (played by Huang Yi) was in infancy in 1881, she refused footbinding three times as too painful. But that started her thinking about the need for women’s liberation, which could only occur if centuries of dynastic rule were toppled for a more equalitarian political system. At the film’s beginning, she is captured and put on trial for treason. You can tell that director Herman Yau is a great admirer of Qiu Jin, the prominent Chinese female revolutionary during the Qing dynasty who is the subject of his movie. It would be misleading to label The Woman Knight of Mirror Lake a martial arts movie, and if you go into it expecting wall-to-wall action you will be let down. However, she was well educated, free spirited and something of an expert in martial arts.
So yes, it is about the Chinese revolutionary, Qiu Jin. If you have no idea who this heroic historical figure is and if you like period movie, then it is worth your while to go for it. You may have some problem with the flash backs though, because there are just two many of those. There are some well done emotive moments and you will come away with admiration for the heroine. She promoted women’s emancipation and education, many other causes and even led charges against government troops. So, after pioneering so much revolution, why was she involved in an arranged marriage? I can understand the position of power, but it seems unlike her character. After all, her radical feminism propelled her into becoming a leader in the growing anti-Qing resistance.And not only that, her uphill battle involves changing mindsets even amongst the educated women themselves, who have already ingrained what the skewed norm is.
If your history buff excitement hasn’t grown yet, also included was the Treaty of Aigun in 1858 that saw Russia gain territory from China including the left bank of the Amur River, pushing the border back from the Argun River. The treaty also gave Russia control over a non-freezing area on the Pacific coast, where Russia founded the city of Vladivostok in 1860. This is a truly wonderful story of a single woman’s fierce battle against the oppressive and corrupt government during the early 1900’s. She blazed the trail of freedom and more importantly, revolution, that completely altered Chinese history. It’s a remarkable movie filled with action, drama, revenge and sacrifice. Sadly, there is a lack of martial arts, but nontheless, a good biodrama, especially for history buffs.
This movie does not disappoint the audience. It does not depict stodgy statements of historical events but is the earnest dramatisation of Qiu Jin’s life. Her story is both moving and inspirational. The best thing about this film, is that it isn’t propaganda, in fact the script makes great pains to say she is a gender revolutionary, not a political one. I’m not sure how Yau got away without pandering to the Party. Or maybe, the theme of chipping away slowly at something to effect change further down the line is just too subtle! Either way, from the beginning, the movie captures the audiences’ eyes with the fight sequences. All credit to her father for opening the door and allowing her to pursue her interests. Highly recommended!