Relationships in Ermo and Suzhou River

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The movie Plunder of Peach and Plum

The movie Plunder of Peach and Plum is about Tao and Li, two lovers who recently got married and are looking for work in Shanghai. Tao gets employed by a shipping company, but he later resigns from his position out of concern for his safety because the employer was flouting safety regulations. Later, he accepts a position at a metal factory. His wife Li works as a secretary, but she leaves the position after her boss Zhou tricks her into a hotel and almost rapes her. Li becomes unwell and falls down the stairs after their child is born. She later dies after Tao fails to get money for her treatment. Tao is used as a homophone for peach and Li is also used as a homophone for plum (Braester, 551). This film is narrated by Tao whom down the line finds himself in the death row, awaiting execution for murder charges.

Suzhou River

Suzhou River is a film about Meimei a dancer in a club, her primary purpose in the club was to wear a mermaid tail and display her dance moves in a glass tank and entertain the viewers. Meimei had a secret admirer known as a Mardar. He was an x-convict and recently became a motorcycle courier in Shanghai. Mardar’s admiration was not genuine since he was hired by a crook dealing with contrabands to look for his daughter who looks a like Meimei very much. Meimei falls in love with Mardar. After she is kidnapped, she feels betrayed by him and throws herself in the Suzhou River. Suzhou is used as a metaphor the new China to integrate the old China.


Urban corruption

In the film, Plunder of Peach and Plum, corruption and the massive scale of injustices in the community, has caused the dream of two well-educated people Tao and Li, with big dreams of working in their dream jobs for the betterment and improvement of their society to be broken (Andrew, 82). They could not have imagined that with their degree from the university, they would find themselves working as a secretary and as a worker in a shipping company, and living in adverse poverty to a point where Tao is not able to afford the medical bills for his wife who later dies. The theme of urban corruption is also portrayed in the film Suzhou River. The club where Meimei is working is quite impossible to operate according to the rules, standards, and regulations. Thus it is due to corruption that such a club can function smoothly.


Idealism is the attitude or believes a person has, where he/she convinces himself/herself that it is possible to live according to the required standards of honesty and behavior in the society. This theme is both portrayed in the films Plunder of Peach and Plum and Suzhou River. Tao in the Plunder of Peach and Plum has to break this rule when he steals money from the manager of the factory that he is employed in so that he could cater for his sick wife who fell a pile of stairs. Tao is later caught and sentenced to death for murder charges. Mardar in the film Suzhou River is also a victim of this theme. He fakes his admiration for Meimei which causes Meimei to fall in love with him, but later we get to know that Mardar was hired by a famous crook to find his missing daughter who was a look-alike of Meimei(Andrew, 82). Mardar kidnaps Meimei later on and there, and then, Meimei realizes the true colors of the person she fell in love with. Mardar`s character also remains the same even after being released from prison; he is hired as a kidnapper.


Feminism is another theme or topic brought out in both the films Plunder of Peach and Plum and Suzhou River. Li, Tao`s wife, and Meimei are the main females used in both films to bring out the theme of feminism. For instance, Li`s boss tries to take advantage of her by tricking her into a hotel room and almost rapes her (Xiao, 51). This is because of the beautiful looks portrayed by Li, because she is a female, and most of all, her boss feels he has power over her, since, he is her boss and because he is a male thus male superiority over women as he thought.

In Suzhou River, we get to see that women are used in charming men in clubs. For instance, Meimei has to put on a mermaid tail and sit in a glass box to entertain the male viewers in the club. In both the films, it shows how the women are being undermined in the society.

Gender relationship/love

This theme is greatly brought out in the films Plunder of Peach and Plum and Suzhou River. Tao and Li in Plunder of Peach and Plum are married, and we can see the extent of their love whereby, Tao goes to the extent of stealing money from his boss so as to take care of his ill wife. Later on, he is sentenced to death all because of love (Lu, 120). Meimei in Suzhou River falls in love with Mardar overtime before she learns about his real objectives with her. Both China-based films were produced for various purposes, for instance, to show the evils and problems that the society is facing or problems people are going experiencing. They also try to demonstrate to the viewer that at times, we don’t determine our future or fate.

Works Cited

Braester, Yomi. “Chinese Cinema in the Age of Advertisement: The Filmmaker as a Cultural Broker.” China Quarterly 183 (2005): 549-564.

Xiao, Jiwei. “The Quest for Memory: Documentary and Fiction in Jia Zhangke’s Films.” Senses of Cinema 59 (June 2011).

Andrew, Dudley. “Encounter: Interview with Jia Zhangke,” Film Quarterly 62.4 (2009): 80-83.

Lu, Xiaoning. (2008), “Zhang Ruifang: Modeling the Socialist Red Star.” Journal of Chinese Cinemas 2.2 (2008): 113–122.

April 06, 2023

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