The Woman Knight of Mirror Lake [Blu-ray + DVD]
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From director Herman Yau (The Legend is Born - Ip Man) comes the thrilling story of one woman who dared to fight for her ideals, even in the face of certain death. Filled with intense scenes of martial-arts action, The Woman Knight of Mirror Lake burns with the fires of revolution.
In late-19th century China, Qui Jin was many things: a defiant rebel armed with both blades and guns; a paramilitary leader dedicated to overthrowing an unjust government; a non-conformist who boldly donned men's attire in spite of tradition; a radical poet whose words inspired the oppressed; a heroic martyr whose views on equality altered history. Her steadfast resolve to improve the plight of women and her bravery in the face of tyranny led her to the executioner - but her determination to topple the status-quo changed a nation forever.
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Top Customer Reviews
wanted to be who she wanted to be and she's not going to let anyone tell her how she
should live her life.and who became a rebel and a revolutionary in late 19th century China.
when she was born they try to tie her feet and that's wear it all started.this woman paved the way for other
women not to be dominated by men in a mans world at that time period when every woman was almost
a slave to their man and she even try to topple the Quing Dynasty.now this movie is not a kung Fu movie
so if you're looking for all fight scene there isn't any this is a very emotional movie with A couple of fight
scene.She was also a very radical poet whose words inspired the oppressed.a heroic martyr whose views
on equality altered history.now i know their is not a lot of women that will not or have not seen this beautiful
movie about one woman struggle to gain her freedom from an oppressed government because of the
subtitles and that's a shame because their is a lot to learn here about women rights.it seams movies like these
don't get much attention because of the subtitles and that's bad.now i don't know why amazon.ca don't integrate
these movies with the American movies when you're on their site and all other movies for that matter not to tell
you how to run your web-site that's the last thing i would like to do.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
She was known for her poetry and essays, wearing Western clothing (usually worn by males) but also being executed in 1907 (via beheading) for what she believed in.
And to this day, she is considered a heroine and a martyr and a symbol of women's independence in China and a museum has been established in Shaoxing by the People's Republic of China as well as statues dedicated to Qui Jin.
Needless to say, when films are created in honor of such an important person, those willing to direct a film will surely be scrutinized in China. For one, they will be criticized for its accuracy, how much they honor the actual person and most importantly knowing that certain directors try to integrate plenty of action and martial arts into their movies, will they do the same for Qiu Jin?
Assigned the task of directing this film on an important person in China's history is director Herman Yau ("The Legend is Born: Ip Man", "The Eight Immortals Restaurant: The Untold Story", "True Women for Sale") and writer Erica Lee ("The Legend is Born: Ip Man", "King of Comedy"). And cast as Qiu Jin is Huang Yi ("Romancing in Thin Air", "East Meets West", "Overheard 2') and cast as revolutionary leader Xu Xilin is Dennis To ("The Legend is Born: Ip Man", "Ip Man", "Ip Man 2').
And the film did receive its fair share of controversial news stories. The film received delays in China/Hong Kong due to protests by Jin's grandchildren who worried about the depiction of their grandmother and if they would make her more of an action/martial arts character. The film would eventually debut in October 2011 and Jin's grandchildren would eventually watch the film at the premiere along with the director Herman Yau and actress Huang Yi.
"The Woman Knight of Mirror Lake" is a film that showcases Qiu Jin in two parts that are mixed together in order to show the influence of Qiu Jin. One part focuses on the battle between the revolutionaries that she had trained at school vs. the Qing government soldiers and events leading to her capture (and execution), as well as the capture of Xu Xilin (played by Dennis To), the leader of the revolution and the person who assassinated the provincial governor of the Anhui Province.
The other part focuses on Qiu Jin's perspective on life from her young years, her feminist beliefs, her college years in Japan and how she became a revolutionary and worked strongly with Xu Xilin.
"The Woman Knight of Mirror Lake" is presented in 1080p High Definition (2:39:1 aspect ratio). The film absolutely looks fantastic in HD as the scenes are vibrant during the outdoor sequences. The costume and set design were wonderful to look at and detail can be seen in clothing and structures. I didn't notice any artifacts or banding during my viewing of the film. But for the most part, video quality for "The Woman Knight of Mirror Lake" is great!
AUDIO & SUBTITLES:
"The Woman Knight of Mirror Lake" is presented in Dolby TrueHD Mandarin and English 5.1. Dialogue and music is crystal clear but I was hoping for a bit more of an immersive mix due to the number of action sequences in the film. Surround channels are utilized, especially during music sequences but for the most part, the lossless soundtrack is good but I was hoping to hear more directional sounds and ambiance with the action sequences and the large number of crowds featured in the film.
"The Woman Knight of Mirror Lake" comes with the following special features:
Making Of - A 20+ minute featurette showing behind-the-scenes making of and also interviews with the cast of "The Woman Knight of Mirror Lake".
Trailers - Funimation Entertainment trailers
"The Woman Knight of Mirror Lake" comes with the Blu-ray and DVD edition of the film plus a slipcover case.
"The Woman Knight of Mirror Lake" is my favorite film based on Qiu Jin's life. It's really difficult for Chinese/Hong Kong filmmakers to create films based on major symbols of Chinese history because viewers tend to expect action and not something so dramatic and serious for the full extend of a film.
We saw it last year with "Confucius", which was a major challenge for the filmmakers but they managed to find a balance and not focus entirely on philosophy which may have enticed a niche of viewers but for the masses in China/Hong Kong, you need to have this action element.
While the fact that Herman Yau was directing the film and coming off the success of "The Legend of Ip Man", I was not surprised that the film would integrate martial arts. I felt that actress Huang Yi and also Dennis To did a great job playing the characters. Huang Yi manages to give a strong commanding role as Qiu Jin but also showing that she also has an emotional side when she knows that she must separate from her family and children, but it's that resolve knowing of the sacrifice she needs to make for the greater good.
Dennis To is known as an action star but manages to portray the character of Xu Xilin as a strong leader for those revolting against the Qing government. And sure enough, his experience in "The Legend of Ip Man" is quite evident during his choreographed martial arts sequence in the film.
But the talent and interaction that I enjoyed the most was between Qiu Jin and Qing court official Li Zhongyue (played by Anthony Wong). Wong does a fantastic job of playing the court official who respects the intelligence and writings of Qiu Jin but knows that he is powerless as a court official, despite seeing the corruptness by his colleagues. The character is so passionate about Qiu Jin's written work to the point he has memorized it. And these interactions between both individuals were endearing and added to the depth of Qiu Jin's character.
"The Woman Knight of Mirror Lake"` is a thrilling story, may it be the movie or just reading about the history of Qiu Jin that captivates you. She was an independent thinker who had strong convictions until the very end of her life. While I'm not an erudite of Qiu Jin and what is real and what is not real, I do know from what I have read is that Qiu Jin and Xu Xilin are cousins and read stories that that in real life, she was convicted for documents that show that she was a revolutionary, while in the film, she is shown as a person who was being convicted with no proof.
While the film manages to be entertaining and has a good balance showcasing Qiu Jin's life as a feminist and the sacrifices that she made for her beliefs, the action sequences which Qiu Jin's grandchildren actually worried about before the film was released, was also a cause of concern for me as well.
I didn't want to see Qiu Jin flying in air, nor did I want to see the action look fake. If you want to show people fighting with swords, guns, then make it realistic. While it is known that Qiu Jin learned martial arts, part of me doubts that the real Qiu Jin engaged in such battles. And not so sure if Xu Xilin and his fellow revolutionaries were engaged in the same type of battle as depicted in the film, but I will tell you what I didn't like, the wire work of explosions. We see people floating in air and flipping 360's, it looked really fake considering the fighting choreography was well-done.
Granted, once again, it's a double-edged sword of whether or not you want to see these long action sequences in a film about Qiu Jin's life.
As for the Blu-ray release, video quality is fantastic and audio was very good (although I would have loved it to be much more immersive during the action sequences). You get one making of special feature and also with the Blu-ray release, you also get the DVD version of the film included as well.
Overall, "The Woman Knight of Mirror Lake" is a very enjoyable and fascinating film that manages to balance the life of Qiu Jin and making sure it honors her legacy but also knowing that for viewers who expect action, there is also enough action sequences to entertain audiences. With back and forth pacing, the storytelling is done well and not at all confusing. While I do feel the action sequences were over the top at times, the storyline,which may not be historically accurate, does honor Qiu Jin and the biopic is entertaining. And in the end, Herman Yau and Erica Lee accomplished their goal.
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.
The film's story goes back and forth between two timelines; Qiu Jin in 1907 caught by the authorities, and events from her childhood to her eventual arrest. Frequent flashbacks often detract from the narrative, undermining the dramatic impact of a life story, but here editing is slick and the film makes its overall point clear by trying to stick to biographical facts without sacrificing entertainment value.
"The Woman Knight of Mirror Lake" has a few nice action set-pieces involving actor / action choreographer Xin Xin Xiong as a ruthless military commander, opposite Huang Yi's heroine and later, Dennis To as a real-life revolutionary Xu Xilin. Xin Xin Xiong, recently seen in a similar role in "Shaolin," shows what a veteran like him can do, with powerful and orthodox martial arts action choreography. Familiar faces from the Hong Kong film industry Anthony Wong and Lam Suet also appear as the government officials.
While providing action set-pieces, the film (script penned by Erica Lee) does not forget to include the key episodes of Qiu Jin, for instance, a photo of Qiu Jin holding an unsheathed dagger, and her dagger thrust before the students. But as to what drives her to political activities, the film is not very convincing.
Those who are looking for martial arts action may be disappointed with the film's narrative that is heavy on drama. Also, the film is not exactly an in-depth look at the important historical figure. With strong acting, decent production designs and photography, "The Woman Knight of Mirror Lake" is not a bad film. It just doesn't know what it wants to be.