The Soong Sisters (1997)

Directed by
Reviewed by Simon on 2001-10-09

Epic historical piece covering the lives of 3 sisters from a wealthy family, each of whom would have an impact on Chinese history throughout the 20th century. Older sister Michelle Yeoh marries a rich banker (her story isn't covered much), middle sister Maggie Cheung marries the infamous Sun Yat Sen (leader of the first revolution and the Communist Party), and youngest sister Vivian Wu marries his successor and rival (Chiang Kai-shek), leader of the Nationalist party.

Maggie's story gets the largest screen time - she is an idealist who cares about her country and the revolution above all except her love for Sun Yat Sen. This love causes conflict with her father that nearly tears the family apart. Vivian Wu just dominates the second half of the film - power is her main motivation for marriage (and envy of Maggie).

The politics and the history of China's struggles with revolution, invasion and corruption are well balanced with the family lives. It makes for very interesting viewing. The production is lavish - great sets, costumes and make up etc totally create the impression of the times the movie covers. The cinematography & sound are very atmospheric. It's well written too, and for once we get perfect English for the subtitles!

Edit: A significantly longer remastered cut of the film has been released since I wrote this review... I have had the DVD for years but never got round to watching it.