Broken Blossoms is the 1919 film directed by D.W. Griffith and one of the first films from United Artists. Cheng Huan wants to become a Buddhist missionary and goes to England. However, it ends in failure. Lucy is a young woman who lives with her abusive father, boxer Battling Burrow. One night, he beats her up so badly she’s found near Cheng’s shop after she crawls for help. He nurses her back to health, but Burrows gets wind of this and kills her. Can Cheng get his revenge?
While it’s not a bad melodrama it has not aged well. Most modern viewers would have wanted Cheng and Lucy to actually become a couple before tragically dying. Unfortunately, Griffith couldn’t fully transcend the ignorance of the times and make a good film great. It’s not as bad as Birth of a Nation but ethnic stereotyping and the casting of white people as Asians is still there. Some viewers may find the blunt melodrama sappy, although Griffith can pull it off. Honolulu film fans should rent it and judge for themselves.
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