This traces the activities of a group of revolutionaries in the period during which General Yuan Shih-kai was attempting to subvert the new republic and have himself made emperor, a move which entailed signing away North China to Japanese control. Lo Wei turns in an atmospheric film, possibly - in some of its imagery, and in its use of a 'family' as the cell which infiltrates Japanese High Command and the upper echelons of Peking government - revealing influences from Communist China. Cheng Pei Pei (from Golden Swallow) builds a character of muted but intense single-mindedness, wit and intelligence. Lo Wei obviously delights in his own role as a particularly unpleasant turncoat commissioner, and (directorically) cannot resist adding his familiar humorous brush-strokes. Nevertheless, the more delicate mood of encroaching horror and staunch resistance dominates the film.
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