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Thousand Pieces of Gold
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Reviews & Ratings for
Thousand Pieces of Gold More at IMDbPro »

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16 out of 18 people found the following review useful:

A Golden Piece of Drama

Author: Prof_Lostiswitz from Cyberia
7 August 2002

A gorgeous and very intelligent movie. Highly unusual to make a western from the Chinese point of view, also to make one from the woman's point of view.

These people do it without sentimentality; there's never a false note in it. Lalu has three strikes against her: an ethnic Mongol in China, a woman in a male culture, a Chinese in America. Yet she can draw on her warrior traditions forb a sense of pride inaccessible to most of her compatriots.

The relationships she gets into seem totally real; at the same time, there is no attempt to cover up the ugly reality of white racism (not that the Chinese men are much better than the Americans).

This is how the old west must have been, and this movie gives us an honest and dramatic portrayal. It deserves to be much better known.

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10 out of 11 people found the following review useful:

Amazing dramatic performances

Author: goodbook_1979 from U.s
6 November 1999

One of the few movies i've seen where sex is not the bottom line or basis of the romance. It is tasteful and sweet in its depiction of an interracial relationship which develops around an actual friendship and ensues into a genuine emotional bond in the midst of semi-racially intolerant environment. The lead actor and actress produce an amazing performance of a romantic chemistry that is set in the bounds of respect, selfnessness, kindness, and deep affection.

I give it a thumbs up, way, waaaaaaaaaaaaaay up.

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8 out of 9 people found the following review useful:

Harsh gloominess gives way to muted optimism

Author: Tim O'Callaghan from Norwich, UK
20 December 2001

Gritty social realist story of Chinese woman Lalu who is sold into slavery in the late 19th century, and taken to a rough mining town in the American west. There she faces a series of humiliations, rejections and triumphs before finding at least a degree of happiness with a sympathetic saloon keeper. By turns both gloomy and sentimental (not necessarily a bad thing) issues of racism and feminism are very much to the fore.

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10 out of 13 people found the following review useful:

One of American Playhouse's finest

Author: HallmarkMovieBuff from United States
12 April 2007

Although I haven't seen this since it was on TV over fifteen years ago, its memory came and struck me again tonight right out of the blue while I was eating dinner. I was so supremely impressed with this at the time I saw it on PBS that I have no trouble now remembering the title immediately, along with the names Rosalind Chao and Chris Cooper, even after all these years. So, I just had to come here now while I'm thinking of it and register my approval.

If this were available on DVD, I'd buy it today. But it seems to me that what America really needs, entertainment-wise, is an American Playhouse anthology on DVD. If The American Film Theatre can put out a fourteen-volume anthology (in three sets), and if we can get "Fifty Years of Janus Films" in one giant collection, why not American Playhouse?

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5 out of 7 people found the following review useful:

Chao and Cooper have chemistry to spare

Author: dphelan-1 from Canada
1 March 2007

I wish this fantastic film were available on DVD. I own the VHS and find it more compelling with each viewing. Rosalind Chao and Chris Cooper ( who later went on to win an Academy Award) give topnotch performances and make me believe in the power of love and redemption. Their slowly building relationship in a hostile world and its low-key but very powerful denouement is a textbook in fine acting.The historical period has been covered before but never from the point of view of a Chinese immigrant woman. Lalu's courage, strength and intelligence as well as her sensuous exotic beauty are inspirational. As Charlie, Cooper gives a fine portrayal of a decent if flawed man who triumphs in the end. A real classic!

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3 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

the Old West from a different perspective

Author: Michael Neumann from United States
22 December 2010

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.

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2 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

There's danger when a movie is made of a true life figure

Author: elgordo15 from United States
13 November 2010

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

This touching movie is about what may be the best loved figure from Idaho history. Her ranch, now a members only recreational club, is just over 40 miles from where I'm writing this. The movie takes considerable license with the actual facts of Polly Bemis' life, but that is seldom the point of a fictionalized movie based on a novel that is based on a true story anyway. Much of this movie winks and nods at the history, but packages what there is of it into a very charming and moving portrayal of the difficulties of life for Chinese immigrants on the Idaho frontier, not on the cattle producing prairies, but in the gritty gold mines of Warren and Florence in the mountains of 19th century Central Idaho. The Chinese Exclusion Act caused much upheaval and misery among the Chinese immigrants as was depicted in the movie, in which the Bemises were caught up. (spoiler alert) Although the movie ends just as life is beginning on the Main Salmon River in Central Idaho, much of the charm of Polly Bemis' life that has made her such a beloved figure in Idaho history had yet to occur. That might be a good idea for another movie to follow up this one.

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no likable characters

Author: worleythom
18 March 2016

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

There are no likable characters in this movie.

Even the protagonist is mainly just a victim. She shows some tenacity, but we don't really get to know her enough to like her.

Shows that Chinese people were scapegoated, mistreated, excluded, robbed, murdered in the 1800s.

Shows a poor Chinese father selling his daughter into sex slavery.

Everyone the protagonist encounters mistreats her.

Not a fun movie. Its redeeming social value, if it has one, is in showing the fallout from racism and sexism.

Which is perhaps unnecessary. For a downer, any day's news will do.

A movie should at least have a likable character. This movie lacks one.

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1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

Excellent family oriented movie

Author: john scaglione from United States
31 March 2015

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Just watched this the other day on Hulu.Com and was very pleasantly surprised. Great acting, very meaningful dialog, a very touching story (supposedly based on a true account) that was extremely well told. Many people today would probably find it slow moving because of its lack of action, bloodshed, and sex. But i found it perfect. One can feel for the plight of poor Chinese striving to survive in remote regions and the harsh decisions that they had to make in order to do so. The story of the daughter of one of these families and her subsequent forced relocation to Oregon in the U.S. is both touching and heroic. I would highly recommend this movie to anyone who appreciates the triumph of the human spirit in the face of hardship. Great performances from Chou and Cooper.

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1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

A Hidden Treasurer deserving of a broad audience.

Author: tallmark2 from Lewiston, Idaho
22 December 2013

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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