Xiao Nü Fuchou Ji (1925) 孝女复仇记 (A Filial Daughter's Revenge)
Baihe. B&W. Silent. 8 reels. Premiered in Shanghai in 1925, exact date and venue not recorded. Screenplay: Guan Haifeng. Cinematography: Zhou Shimu. Cast: Lu Jianfen (Madame Hu), Liu Jinbiao (Captain Liu Biao), Wang Yingzhi (Wang Mou).
[right, program notes cover for the film]
A tale of revenge, served with a moralizing message of filial piety. In a certain province, the governing warlord general's most trusted confidant is Captain Liu Biao, so he appoints Liu commander of the general's personal bodyguard. Captain Liu has recently married, and this promotion coming so soon after the wedding would seem to make his happiness complete. One evening, as Liu and his bride Madame Hu are relaxing at home, they receive an unexpected caller, retired officer Wang Mou. Wang was the captain's predecessor as commander of the bodyguard, and during his visit Wang tells them he has returned at the request of the general, with the mission of finding the warlord a beautiful girl he can take as his concubine. A few days later, Madame Hu receives a letter informing her that her mother is critically ill. The captain of course tells his wife to return at once to her native province, and she leaves. Not long after her departure, Wang Mou reports to the general he has found a beauty the general should find to his liking, and when they are introduced the warlord is delighted with the beautiful and sexy young woman, so he chooses an auspicious day for the wedding. Following the ceremony and a lavish wedding banquet, the general and his bride withdraw to the bridal chamber. But to the warlord's shock, his bride pulls a dagger from beneath her wedding gown and stabs him to death. She flees through a window, but Captain Liu, on watch outside, hears the commotion inside the chamber and chases her. He overtakes the assassin and places her under arrest.
The next day, a military tribunal is convened, at which the murderess is brought to trial. To the shock of the court, the accused removes her wig and her elaborate makeup to reveal herself as Captain Liu's own beloved wife, Madame Hu. She freely admits to killing the general, and declares her motive was filial piety. Years before, near the end of the Qing (Manchu) dynasty, her father had been an important figure in the Democratic Party, a revolutionary group working for overthrow of the Qing government. Her father and the future warlord had been close colleagues in the organization, but out of greed and a lust for power the latter had sold out his friends, with the result that her father was captured and executed by government forces. As she grew up, the daughter had plotted to avenge her father, and she had married Captain Liu in order to get close to the warlord. Her chance came when she learned Wang Mou was seeking a concubine for the general, so she forged the letter calling for her return home, giving herself the opportunity to disappear for a time. In disguise, she presented herself to Wang Mou as an eligible young candidate for the warlord's desires. Alone with him in the bridal chamber, she at last fulfilled her filial mission of avenging her father.