22 December 2010 | mjneu59
the Old West from a different perspective
By 1990 pundits were dismissing the Western as a moribund genre, but here was more proof to the contrary: a thoughtful, intelligent frontier drama (from the book by Ruthanne Lum McCunn) about a reluctant young Chinese mail-order bride who learns how to overcome both racial and sexual discrimination after being sold into virtual slavery and shipped to a remote Idaho mining camp. The story offers a fresh look at familiar Far Western terrain from a unique and otherwise neglected Far Eastern perspective: through the eyes of Chinese immigrants who, as much as anyone, helped win the West. The heroine's rocky path to independence is softened somewhat by romantic interest from a sympathetic (and racially color blind) saloon owner, but even in love she never loses her dignity or identity. Likewise the film itself maintains its quiet feminist integrity, by successfully navigating the fine line between sensitivity and soap. Beautifully shot in the Rocky Mountains of Montana, with careful attention to authentic period mood and detail.