Volcanic Passions

The Chinese Film Classics project is pleased to announce the publication of Christopher Rea’s translation of the film VOLCANIC PASSIONS 火山情血 (Sun Yu 孫瑜, dir., 1932):



In a tropical land at the foot of a volcano, “a deep grudge rankles, and ignites!”

This pulpy story of revenge and romance features takes several tried-and-true Lianhua Studio character types—innocent villagers and warlord predators, moralizing men and leggy starlets—and transports them to an exotic South Seas setting. Zheng Junli 鄭君里, who plays the anguished hero, later played the romantic lead in New Women 新女性 (1935) and went on to be a major director, celebrated for Spring River Flows East 一江春水向東流 (1947) and Crows and Sparrows 烏鴉與麻雀 (1949). Hula dancing sequences featuring Li Lili 黎莉莉, an emerging Lianhua star, gesture to her pre-cinema career as a member of Li Jinhui’s 黎錦暉 Bright Moon Song and Dance Troupe, which toured Southeast Asia.

This subtitled version of the film uses an open-access digital copy reproduced from VHS by the Columbia University Library: https://clio.columbia.edu/catalog/14925790?counter=2

Huoshan qingxue 火山情血

Alternative English title: Blood Passions on the Volcano
Written and directed by Sun Yu 孫瑜
Cinematography: Zhou Ke 周克
Set Design: Fang Peilin 方沛霖
Produced by Lo Ming Yau (Luo Mingyou 羅明佑)
Studio: United Photoplay Service (Lianhua)
Cast: L.L. Lay (Li Lili 黎莉莉), Chen Chun-Li (Zheng Junli 鄭君里), Tan Ying 談瑛, T.S. Tong (Tang Tianxiu 湯天綉), C.C. Liu (Liu Jiqun 劉繼群), James Yuan (Yuan Congmei 袁叢美), Qian Tang 錢鏜, Sze Ko Fei (Shi Juefei 時覺非), William Kolland (Gao Weilian 高威廉), L.K. Han (Han Langen 韓蘭根)
Year of release: 1932
95 minutes
Subtitles translated by Christopher Rea
Subtitles created by Yuk Yee Marie Hui


Song Ke lives with his father and younger siblings in the idyllic Willow Blossom Village. Family members pray to Heaven for peace and happiness, while Song prays for a “handsome husband” for his sister, Jade. Instead, she is kidnapped by Fifth Master Cao, the nephew of a warlord. When Song and his father protest, Cao’s men frame them for theft and have them thrown in jail. Cao extorts Jade for their release, but she kills herself rather than become his fourth concubine, and Father Song and his younger son end up dead. Song Ke curses Heaven for the tragedy and flees from persecution by Cao’s thugs, leaving China for a distant tropical land of “women, red wine, strapping bodies, and naked hearts.” For three years he lives in a town of Chinese laborers at the foot of a volcano. Nursing his grudge, Song Ke gains a reputation in this rowdy boom town as “the man who never smiles” …until he meets Willow Blossom, a beautiful dancer recently hired by Coconut Grove Tavern. Initially put off by her lifestyle and her name, which reminds him of home, Song eventually falls in love with her. Then Cao arrives, recognizes Song, and has Song imprisoned again. Willow Blossom and her friends rescue Song, who confronts his sworn enemy just as the volcano erupts. As residents flee, the pair fight their way up to the top of the volcano, where Song pushes Cao in. The eruption ends, and, having avenged his family, Song Ke returns to embrace the injured Willow Blossom, who vows to live and watch him “rid humanity of all monsters.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *