The Burning of the Red Lotus Temple in 1928 set off a formidable wave of Chinese wu xia, from which Red Heroine is a rare surviving film. The fluid storytelling and special effects – think cloud-surfing and disappearance by white smoke – are a pure treat.
Following the runaway success of The Burning of the Red Lotus Temple in 1928, the Shanghai studios all competed to put out fantasy wuxia films of their own. Red Heroine is one of the few to have survived intact, and is a testament to the huge contributions the genre made to the development of special effects in Chinese cinema (visible in, for example, the Red Heroine’s ability to soar through the air, ride the wind, and appear and disappear in a puff of white smoke). The storyline is strange and erotic, including scenes in which the leader of the rebel army is surrounded by a group of young girls, dressed only in their underwear. Not only is the camerawork and pacing of Red Heroine remarkably fluid, but the two scenes in the first half also lend some poetic nuances to a film that basically catered to popular taste. –Rotterdam