Gada Meilin (2002)

 

 

 

Director:     Xiaoning Feng.

Starring:     Deligeer, Ebusi, Xiaoguang Hu, Ming Li, Wei Liu (Mu Dan), Men Tu.

Mongolian national hero Ga da mei lin who led Mongolians to protect  their homeland from the provincial government

 

Spoiler Warning:  below is a summary of the entire film. 

Early 20th century.  Out on the steppe a man is playing a string instrument sitting by some type of layered bells landmark.  Some boys and girl are chasing a pheasant they killed.  They ask for Gada to throw the bird to them.  Gada doesn't throw it, so the heavy boy named Bater wants to wrestle Gada.  One of the girls, Mudan, tells Gada to show them he's a boy and if he defeats Bater she will give him her horse milk.  Bater wins so he asks for Mudan's horse milk.  She doesn't want to give the milk to anybody but Gada.  Mudan runs over to Gada, but doesn't quite make it because someone is singing a song very loudly on the trail. 

On a wagon a man imprisoned in a wooden cage sings the song.  He stares at the musician for awhile and then goes back to singing.   A little boy is in the cage with him.  He looks very poorly.  The musician puts some horse milk in a bowl and gives it to the boy.  But one of the guards knocks the bowl out of the magician's hand with a whip. 

A public execution will take place.  The executioners say that they have caught the outlaw who rebelled against the government.  His little boy will also be killed.  The father has his head cut off.  The boy is asked if he has one last wish.  He says he is thirsty.  Gada comes forward with Mudan's horse milk and lets him drink the milk.  All of a sudden a sandstorm descends over the land.  People and equipment are blown around.  When the sand finally stops, Gada sees that the little boy and the milk bag are gone.  The only trace of the little boy left with Gada is the metal pendant which the boy wore around his neck.  Gada starts wearing the pendant around his neck. 

He sees Mudan leaving in the back of a wagon.  Gada follows behind the wagon.  Mudan asks him what does he want to be when he grows up?  He says he want sto be a Meilin, because that way no one will bully him.  Mudan laughs and says then his name will be Gada Meilin.   Gada stops walking and watches Mudan going farther away from him.

20 years later.  The same musician is still at the landmark playing his string instrument.  Gada is a strong looking fellow now.  Bater  rides up to him on a horse and says they are going to Ulan Nadam for the horse race there.  Three fellows are going to Ulan Nadam.  They stop to look at the small convoy of oxen and wagons going by.  A woman sings a song and Gada and Bater sing back to her. She sings her song again. 

The Authority approaches in the back of a wagon.  He tells Bater to try to win all the his wrestling matches.  The fellows are happy and sing back to the woman. 

The three fellows take a break by going wading in a small pond of water.  All of a sudden a huge horde of horses comed running through the pond.  They are lucky that they are not hurt.  The horse belonging to Gada follows along with the herd of horses.  A young woman comes riding fast with a lasso on a long pole and lassos Gada's horse.  She brings it back to Gada.  She asks where are they from and they say Darhan, but are on their way to Nadam.  The guys start to ride away, but someone calls out for Mudan.  The three horsemen stop and turn around.  She says goodbye to the "wrestlers" and as she rides away she says:  "Gada, you still owe me a milk bag."

Hundreds of men are exercising on the steppe.  The Authority greets a Japanese man named Ueno Mazuo, plenipotentiary of the Sesame Company from Japan to Manchuria and Mongolia.  The fellow is interested in the wasteland in Liaoning.  It's actually a rich, green field.  Ueno Mazuo then gives a gift to the Authority.  It's a brand new revolver.   The Authority throws the gun to his translator.  This insults the Japanese fellow and he leaves in a huff.  In turn, the translator gives the revolver to Bater.  He also tells Bater that the Authority has made a bet with the Head of the County that Bater will win the wrestling contest.  Bater replies:  "No one can beat me on this green field." 

The young women are all dressed up in costumes and do a dance on the steppe.  Gada sees Mudan there in the front line.  He likes what he sees.  Mudan smiles at him.  Each woman gives a young man a drink from her cup.  Mudan gives Gada the cup and also gives him her red scarf. 

Now the wrestling matches begin.  Gada gets matched up with Bater right from the start.  Bater tells Gada:  "You'll be out this match."  He then says:  "You'll always be the loser to me."  But in the match it is Gada, reinvigorated by seeing the face of Mudan, who first throws his opponent to the ground.  The translator now scolds Gada for wining the match, saying:  "You'd better let the Authority win on you on an even chance."

There are hundreds of horsemen ready for the start of the race.  It starts.  Mudan, with her red scarf, leads the way.  When she veers off to the left, Gada follows her, thereby completely taking himself out of the race.  They ride to the old landmark.  Gada tells her that he will be gone for two weeks getting goods south of the Great Wall.  He says he leaves tomorrow.  Gada then asks when will Mudan go back to Darhan?  She doesn't say, but she does again remind him that he owes her a milk bag.  By the river they hug each other.   

Gada and Bater with a camel are walking to the area south of the Great Wall.  All of a sudden they hear shots being fired.  Government soldiers are shooting Mongolians.  The Mongolians and then the government soldiers run past Gada and Bater.  One soldier hits Bater on the head with the butt of his rifle.  Two soldiers steal their camel. 

The two men have now been gone for one month.  The translator tells the Authority that war is going on in that area and maybe they should send some men out to meet Gada and Bater.  No. 

Gada is having to carry Bater so it's slow going.  Gada has a mirage thinking he sees Mudan coming to help them.  The real Mudan waits for Gada at their layered bells landmark.  The guys are so exhausted that they lay unconscious on the hot sands of the desert.  A man comes along on his horse.  He gives Gada some water to drink.  And then Gada gives some water to Bater to drink.  The stranger definitely notices the metal pendant around Gada's neck.  Without any explanation Gada takes the man's horse and rides off.  Later he returns with the large bag the camel had been carrying for them. 

They make a fire and eat some food.  The stranger says he's from south of the Great Wall and is headed to Horqin in search of someone.  The three walk together and finally get out of the desert and onto the steppe.  Gada runs to the landmark and sees Mudan's red scarf flying from the top of it.  Gada heads for Mudan's tent.  They run to each other and embrace.  The stranger takes Bater to his home.  Bater gives him the revolver that the translator had given to him. 

Gada and Mudan ride to the landmark and back. 

Sometime later.  Gada and Mudan have a daughter and they name her Tianjiliang.

Ueno Mazuo returns to see the translator about buying the land from the Darhan people.  He offers the translator a lot of money, but the translator cannot be bought.  Later the translator speaks with the Authority, who says it's good that the translator is not going to let the Japanese think that the Darhan people are easily manipulated.  The translator says they invite the Authority to come see the city. 

The Authority and Gada, along with two other horsemen, ride toward the city.  A shot is fired and the Authority's horse goes down and thereby throws the Authority to the ground.  The stranger that saved Gada and Bater in the desert now comes out with a pistol in both hands.  The man explains that the Darhans have owed "us" one life lost 20 years ago.  Gada jumps from his horse onto the stranger and wrestles the two pistols from him.  But the stranger has another weapon: the revolver that Bater gave him.  The two men point their weapons at each other, but no one fires. 

The stranger gets a closer look at the medal pendant Gada wears around his neck.  He goes to his horse and throws Mudan's milk bag to Gada.  Gada recognizes the bag and is amazed.  The stranger says:  "I've repaid you today."  He gets on his horse and rides away.  Gada rides after him and catches up with him.  He throws the two pistols to the stranger and the pendant.  He says:  "I've repaid you, too."  Gada rides away. 

The Authority makes Gada the Meilin of Darhan for his bravery and loyalty to the people of the area.  Gada says:  "If I'm here, there will be peace in Darhan." 

Back at home, Gada tells Mudan that the Authority made him the Meilin of Darhan.  Mudan raises a good question:  "If people are against the Authority, what will you do?"  No answer.  Mudan tells him that from now on she shall call him Gada Meilin. 

The translator comes out to see Gada Meilin.  He tells Gada that the Authority wants to see him.  He also tells the Meilin that the Authority is going to trade this land.  The family is shocked at the news.  The translator explains:  "The Authority needs opium and he can't buy opium without money." 

While heading to the Authority, a woman asks the Meilin, where will they live now?  He answers:  "Take it easy!  I, Ga da Meilin, won't let you be bullied."   Another man tells the Meilin that they shouldn't give this land away. 

The translator, Ga da Meilin and Bater, speak with the Authority.   The Authority asks the Meilin what is the talk these days?  Ga da Meilin says that on the land that is to be sold there lives both Mongolian herdsmen and Han farmers.  If the land is sold, these people will have no place to live.  The Authority says Horqin is huge and these people can live in other parts of it.  The Meilin explains:  "Those placed are deserts with no greens."  In short, those places aren't livable.  The translator says that the Meilin is being too stubborn.  In the past the previous Authority sold the eastern and the Liaoyuan field.  Ga da Meilin says yes and that's why the Mongolians and the Han people fought against the old Authority.  Bater says:  "Let's follow the decision the Authority has made."  The Meilin says to let the people who live on the land decide this matter.  The translator fires back that the grassland belongs to the Authority.  Now the Meilin starts to talk about China being a liberated country, but he is stopped by the words of the Authority:  "That's enough!  I've decided to sell this land."

The locals start moving the people off the grasslands.  The old woman Gada had talked to earlier now slaps Gada's and cries over her being forced to leave the land. The translator says the government's troops are coming tomorrow to move the people, but he's afraid that the soldiers might end up hurting the people they will move.  This idea really worries Gada and he takes off on his horse to tell the Authority. 

The Authority is taking archery practice.  Gada pleads with the Authority to think of the children of these people who are to be moved.  He also says that if the greens of the green land are dug up, the wind will blow the topsoil away.  "There will be nothing but sand left."  The Authority just goes on with his archery practice.  

The army arrives.  An old man serves as spokesman for the people.  The army shoot him dead.  The people start to attack with their primitive weapons and more farmers and herders are shot down.  The rest of the people start running for their lives.  The army on horseback chase after them. 

Gada sees that the army has killed most of a family and also set their belongings on fire.  He is very upset.  He gets on his horse and rides out.  He catches up with the Authority and begs him not to take the land away from the people.  So Gada gets fired from the position of a Meilin.  The Authority and his retinue leave. 

The old musician goes to see the stranger.  He says that the stranger's father led 3,000 Mongols and Hans against the previous Authority.  His father was known as the hero of Liaobei.  The stranger says he only has a dozen fighters.  The musician and his grandson leave despondent. 

Gada returns to his home to find it filled with old men.  They say they have all signed the petition to save the land and want Gada to sign it and take it to the government.  They turn to him because he is the Meilin.  Gada says:  "I am not the Meilin anymore."  There is absolute silence in the tent.  Mudan says it's just as well, because if the Meilin can't protect the people, then the position is of no use to anyone except the Authority.  Gada signs the petition. 

In the morning a large group of people turn out.  With a tear rolling down his cheek, Gada rides out. 

In the city Gada sees a protest march in progress.  The people shout:  "Down with the Imperialists!  Down with the Warlords!  Down with the traitors!"  Gada grabs a young man and asks what is he to do to get justice for the Darhan people?  The fellow says:  "A troop is established in southern China.  This troop fights for lands just for people."  Gada wonders if they are communists?  The young man rejoins the protest march. 

Ueno Mazuo returns again.  This time he opens his briefcase and there is no money in it at all.  And now the translator is the Head of the Salvage Bureau.  The translator gives out with a fiendish chuckle. 

Gada comes to a government building. There he sees Bater horsing around with two prostitutes.  Bater tells Gada that now he is the Meilin.  Gada topples him over and says congratulations to him.  Now he makes his way to where the local Authority and the translator are having some food with the military people.  He presents them with a petition signed by 100,000 Mongolians and Hans living in Darhan.  The translators shows it to the top military man and then says to Gada:  "You're out of your mind.  Don't you know where you're standing?"   Suddenly it occurs to Gada that one of the key men is Japanese, namely Ueno Mazuo.  He can't believe that the Authority is selling their land to the Japanese.  He says the Authority will pay for this one day. 

So now it's Gada's time to go to his execution place in a wooden cage.  The wagon rolls right past the landmark and his home.  His wife and daughter chase after the wagon, but it's useless.  At the place of execution it is announced that Gada is an outlaw looking to create a rebellion.  He will be executed tomorrow morning. 

Mudan finds a pistol.  She shoots a guard and then a second one and takes the keys from him.  She gets the door to the cell open, but can't get the shackles off Gada in time.  The guards surround Mudan and Gada.

Both Gada and Mudan are to be executed.  Gada's last request is to be killed with his wife at the same time.  So two executioners are brought forward.  Mudan's last request is that her husband not die on his knees.  The chains are adjusted so he can stand up.  Just at the time the executioner is ready to lop off Gada's head, the stranger and his men arrive and shoot the first executioner.  The translator and his men are set to fight, so a skirmish breaks out.  The translator runs for his life.  The people now go after the soldiers and the translator, filled with the desire to kill them. 

The Authority appears and makes the translator afraid that they are going to kill him.  He falls backwards in fright, but the bullets sail over his head. 

Now the people, the stranger and Gada are ready for the rebellion.  The stranger says he's been waiting for this day for 20 years.  Now Gada speaks to the people.  He says that God gave this land to them and they and their ancestors have taken good care of this land..  "We can't let it turn into a desert and leave a desert to our children."  The people start chanting:  "Gada Meilin!  Gada Meilin!" 

The army approaches the Mongolians and the Hans arrayed on the steppe land.  Gada has his people charge the soldiers  After firing their rifles, the soldiers draw their swords and attack the attackers.  The two groups collide with each other.  Mudan is in among the men going to the fight.  After a bit of fighting, the stranger and his dozen men join in on the fight.  After some more fighting the army starts retreating.

The translator goes to the Authority to tell him that their troops have been defeated.  The Authority says to call in Bater. 

Gada and the others expect that there will be more troops coming.  The stranger says they need more ammunition.  Gada say he will speak with the Authority of Wendur and ask for his help.  That Authority signed the Darhan petition.  Gada goes with three men.  All of a sudden two of the men are shot from their horses.  It's Bater and his men who have done this.  Bater comes out from the high grasses with his men and they disarm Gada and his men.  The big fellow says that he has been waiting for Gada for two days.  He also says that Gada is worth $10,000 in reward.  Bater now has Gada walk toward the lake.  Gada is waiting to feel the bullets in his back.  There is a pistol shot, but it doesn't hit Gada.  Bater starts laughing, still holding his pistol up in the air. 

Bater tells the Authority that he shot at Gada, but missed.  The Authority is not sure he believes Bater's story.  The translator rushes in to say that the army reinforcements have arrived. 

Bater tells Gada that the army has arrived and they will begin the big attack today. 

The army puts its troop in position.  They feel they have totally blocked any escape route for the enemy.  They take a closer look at Gada's forces and see that they are headed west to the marshland.  The army has brought their artillery with them this time and from a hill the artillery men open fires on the enemy.  A lot of Gada's men are killed by the artillery shells.  The old musician is hit by shrapnel. 

The army commander is very sure of himself.  He says:  "Everyone thought Gada Meilin is fierce, but he is only good for my gunfire."  But now Gada starts a fire that heads in the direction of the soldiers and their cannons.  They start retreating from the fire, but the guns and ammunition can't move by themselves.  The commander doesn't run fast enough and is killed by the fire.  The ammunition by the artillery and the artillery pieces themselves explode.

A Japanese officer, Ueno Mazuo, comes over to tell Gada:  "Gada Meilin, I respect you, a hero of the Mongolians."  He has brought ammunition to Gada.  He says if Gada will fly a flag of independence, they will give him all the ammunition that he needs.  Gada refuses the offer.  Bater and Gada are both highly suspicious of the Japanese.  Mudan asks why would the Japanese army get involved in this conflict? 

Gada and the stranger now talk about the communists and Gada wonders if they can join forces with the communists?  The stranger is going to a place where he can get more ammunition.  Gada tells him that they will meet the stranger in Honggar.  He then yells to the stranger and Mudan to tell Bater not to get drunk.  But Bater does get drunk.  When he runs out of liquor he invades a home of an elderly couple to get more.  They tell him that the government took the last of their liquor.  So Bater pushes them outside and looks for liquor.  He finds a bottle of it, comes to the doorwell and asks the man then what's this then, if they have no liquor?  He then throws the bottle at the old man's head and it hits him squarely on the man's forehead  killing him. 

Gada is furious when he hears about it.  He yells at all the troops.  The old woman picks out Bater as the murderer.  Bater walks toward the lake.  Gada shakes as he shoots with his eyes closed and misses the big man. But the big man has shot himself with the revolver first sent by the Japanese Ueno Mazuo as a bribe to the Authority. 

The stranger returns with some ammunition.  Now, under guard, his men bring in the translator and a woman with him.  The translator tells Gada that the Authority is willing to return the land, if Gada will work out a solution with him.  He is to meet the Authority tomorrow at the Huanghua tent.  The stranger doesn't trust the Authority, but Gada feels he must take the risk.  He says:  "Perhaps he understands now."   So the stranger and his men now part company with Gada to go get the ammunition. 

Gada's troops go with him to see the Authority.  They see the wagon on the hill.  A man is sent up to the top of the hill to make sure it is not a trap.  He returns to Gada and the men start moving forward.  They notice the wagon is leaving and suspect a possible ambush.  And that's exactly what it is.  Rifles and machine guns starts to devastate Gada's forces.  Furthermore, the army is on both sides and a great many of Gada's forces are killed.  Then the army brings forward the children all tied together in a long line.  Gada's daughter is taken off the line and tied to a horse rider's back, but the other children are dragged through the steppe behind the man on a horse.    

Gada now raises his hands and slowly moves forward, saying to take him and leave his people and the children alone.  Mudan now takes the rifle and shoots both her daughter and the rider dead.  Now she collapses.  Now all the Mongols go to the attack.  Many are shot down.  The translator starts running again.  Gada's now much smaller force reaches the top of the hill and the troops start being killed in large numbers.  But army reinforcements are sent in and Gada and his men have to pull back. 

The stranger and his men come back and start to use a machine gun and rifles on the army reinforcements.  But the men quickly learn that the bullets are all duds.  So the stranger and his men fight for their lives with what they have.  The stranger kills a lot of soldiers, but he gets hacked by a sword and goes down.  Mudan will take the children over the water to the other bank.  Now Gada and what's left of his men charge the reinforcements.  Many of the escaping children are killed by machine gun fire. 

The machine gunner's assistant is shot dead, but the machine gunner kills the man who killed his assistant.  With his last strength the stranger is about to crawl up behind the machine gunner and kill him, but the translator sticks a knife in the stranger's back.  As the translator enjoys his accomplishment, he is shot in the back and goes down.  Before he hits the ground the stranger shoots the translator in the chest with the revolver.  He's dead for sure now.  Now the stranger kills the machine gunner. 

Gada would have been overrun, but fortunately for him, his men have a lot of hand grenades which they use very effectively.  And yet more army reinforcements come up.  Gada is the only one standing for his side.  He throws his sword at them.  Now he turns his back to the line of soldiers standing there.  He sees Mudan and his daughter ride across the top of the hill.  They have escaped with some of the other children.  He starts walking through the water to get to the other side.  But now the soldiers open up on Gada.  He is shot in the back and falls into the water. 

Now another musician plays the string instrument by the landmark. 

"In 1931, the revolt of Gada Meilin to safeguard the green field failed.  Then, Horqin green field gradually became a desert."  The wind blows the sand around. 

 

This film is an action flick and a love story between the hero and heroine, Gada and Mudan.  One problem is that they don't spend any time explaining in what year or where these events are taking place.  I thought it was in Mongolia, but it is in the state of Inner Mongolia in China.  And many times it wasn't clear which soldiers from where are fighting with the residents of Darhan.  So you really should read the historical background from Wikipedia. The actors playing the part of Gada and Mudan were very good.  (The Japanese took Manchuria in 1937, but the Japanese interest in Manchuria had been growing ever since the end of the Russo-Japanese War (1904-05), in which the Treaty of Portsmouth that ended the war granted Japan the lease of the South Manchuria Railway branch, from Changchun to Lshun, of the China Far East Railway.)

Patrick Louis Cooney, Ph. D.

 


Historical Background:

 

Gada Meiren (1892-1931) led an uprising in Inner Mongolia against the sale of the Khorchin grasslands (in today's Tongliao). 

1892 --Gada Meiren is born in a village named jam-un tokhui in Khorchin Left Wing Middle Banner (commonly called Darkhan Banner), Jirim League. Gada Meiren was a nickname. His given name was Nadmid and he belonged to the Mltt clan. Meiren was a loan word from Manchu referring to a military officer.

As Jirim League was close to China, and Han Chinese immigrants came under the administration of Chinese counties, and the Mongol banner, and administrative division, quickly shrunk. His family originally lived in a grassland controlled by Prince ndr.

He was not from aristocracy, but his ancestors did become land owners when overpopulation forced the Mongols to shift from animal husbandry to farming.

c. 1902. when Gada Meiren was 10 years old, the banner's deputy head Jigdenvangkhur, Prince Jorightu, sold the grassland to the Chinese without Prince ndr's permission.

So Gada and his family had to flee westward to a village named mandurkhu.

c. 1921 Gada joins the banner's army and moves further westward to Prince Darkhan's grassland.

by the late 1920s the most productive lands in Darkhan Banner are being cultivated by Chinese peasants.

The warlord Zhang Zuolin controlled Liao-ning Province. The authorities plan to divide the banner's last land into two areas: Hsi-chia-huang and Liao-pei-huang.

This division would mean that the Mongols would be push the Mongols in the banner to virtual poverty. The division is opposed by the ethnic Mongols from the ruling class and commonalty. Gada Meiren is one of the leading figures of the campaigns against Liao-pei-huang.

early 1929 Gada Meiren and others organize a delegation to Mukden to end the colonization. Their appeal to Prince Darkhan and Zhang Xueliang fails. Gada Meiren and three other delegates are grabbed and imprisoned. They are sent back to the banner.

The dissatisfaction in the ranks of the Mongols becomes so great that they rebel against the local authorities.

Gada Meiren is freed from prison by his wife Mudan.

Gada gather around him 200 or so fighters. They make the northern mountainous area their base. Gada targets land surveyors in Hsi-chia-huang and Liao-pei-huang. They also attack offices to burn land sales contracts.

The poorer part of the local Chinese support Gada and the rebellion.

Gada expands his unit to eight companies of local bandits, numbering more than 1000 fighters. (One problem, however, was that the bandits weaken the overall discipline of Gada's troops.)

Prince Darkhan's banner army cant defeat the rebels. So Prince Darhan asks for help for Zhang Xueliang. The overwhelming Chinese army from Feng-tien and Jehol and led by Li Shouxin surround Gada Meiren.

1931 (spring) Gada Meiren falls to the Chinese army. The rebels disperse.

The Japanese conquer Manchuria and set up a state called Manchuko that has a puppet government controlled by the Japanese.  The Japanese halt all land projects in Khorchin.

 

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