The Woman Knight of Mirror Lake (2011)
Set in : Hong Kong
Language: Mandarin and Cantonese.
Written by: Erica Lee
Directed by: Herman Yau
The opening music sets the mood. During the titles the background is black and fire blazes across the screen, the music is a loud, dramatic, classical instrumental with violins and a flute solo. The pathetic fallacy is set with the thunder and the pouring rain creating a dark and depressing mood from the outset. A carriage pulls up on a wet road, and two Chinese women get out of it, weeping in despair, then one bursts into tears and falls to the ground, looking at something; unknown to the audience. Thunder breaks and the graphics are in the form of a page ripping across the screen, with a splatter of blood, whilst the titles are integrated with scenes of action and violence. It was only until twenty minutes through it became clear that the film had started with the ending, and it runs from flashbacks of the main character Qui Jin’s life and the battle with the Chinese government. It cleverly combines the past and the present, but at times can get a little confusing.
The film is full of action and drama, with a fantastic soundtrack perfectly accompanying the mood, and the tension. The film tackles a prominent issue of our time and through history, the lead character Qui Jin fights for equal rights in China between women and men, which is one of the worst countries for prejudice against the female sex, this is shown early on in the film where Qui Jin isn’t allowed to go to school whilst her brother is. She wears a suit as a feminist statement, and her male army uniform whilst she fights, indicating the equality she wants for her and the rest of china, for now and for a better future.
The action in the film I can appreciate for being well executed, with spectacular choreographed martial arts, but I found the whole film just seemed to be a bloody battle, I am not sure if it’s just me and my opinions against action films, but I feel there should have been less fighting and more drama. The torture scene was unusual for an action film, usually it is the men fighting and killing each other, for some reason I found it disturbing to hear a woman cry out in pain, being tortured by men breaking her fingers. This may be another reference to how we still don’t see women as equals, as they bear our children and are still seen as mothers. The constant dramatic element to the film I found exhausting, the running time is only 115 minutes, but it felt a considerable amount longer. The film ends with Qui Jin being executed, which makes the whole film a tragedy taking the viewer on a painful journey. The only ray of hope which is given to the viewers; is that Qui died to save the other women of china to give them a better life, and her name will go down in history, like the suffragettes.