Thousand Pieces of Gold (1991)

PG-13  |   |  Romance, Western  |  November 1991 (USA)
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Ratings: 7.2/10 from 397 users  
Reviews: 11 user | 2 critic

In 1880's China, young Lalu is sold into marriage by her impoverished father. Rather than becoming a bride, Lalu ends up in an Idaho gold-mining town, the property of a saloon owner who ... See full summary »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Hong King
Dennis Dun ...
Jimmie F. Skaggs ...
Li Ping
Chris Evans ...
Sailor #2
Weili Fan ...
Evan C. Kim ...
Shun Lee
Ah Ling
John M. Hosking ...
Mary Matvy ...


In 1880's China, young Lalu is sold into marriage by her impoverished father. Rather than becoming a bride, Lalu ends up in an Idaho gold-mining town, the property of a saloon owner who renames her China Polly and plans to sell her as entertainment for the locals. Refusing to become a whore, Lalu ultimately finds her own way in this strange country filled with white demons. Written by Kelley O.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


A testament to the strength of the human spirit


Romance | Western







Release Date:

November 1991 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

American Playhouse: Thousand Pieces of Gold  »

Filming Locations:


Box Office


$717,772 (USA)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Based on the true story of "China Polly". See more »


Featured in Big Guns Talk: The Story of the Western (1997) See more »

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User Reviews

A Hidden Treasurer deserving of a broad audience.
22 December 2013 | by (Lewiston, Idaho) – See all my reviews

OK, I will admit upfront that I am biased about this movie. "Thousand Pieces of Gold" had its world premiere in my city in Idaho in 1991 because it was the only sizeable town with a large old movie palace near the locations where these true-life events took place (but NOT where they were filmed, which was in Montana). (Lewiston even gets a shout-out in the subtitles near the beginning of the film.) During the several weeks that this movie played, I went to see it MANY times on the BIG SCREEN; watching it on TV screens just does not do the scenery justice, though we will perhaps never see it again in theaters. The story of Polly Bemis that the movie is based on is real, though the filmmakers do take some liberties with the facts. That does not bother most of us locals. We were all thrilled to see this story brought to life on film by many fine actors, capturing the flavor of what life was like in 19th Century Idaho mining towns--especially if you were not white. Rosalind Chao's performance is exceptional, and I have been told that this was the FIRST American movie made with a Asian-American actress in the lead role. Although the film seems to come to a rather abrupt end -- as though the filmmakers ran out of money -- it is still a fantastic film that deserves more attention than it has received, and certainly should be released on DVD. Make a point to see it, or own it on VHS, if you can.

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