Attack on a China Mission (1900)
Director: James Williamson
Cast: Mr. James, Mr. Lepard, Florence Williamson
Synopsis: A man tries to defend a woman and a large house against Chinese attackers.
Attack on a China Mission is a typical example of filmmakers using the headlines of the day as the source for their ideas – a practice that would cement the fortunes of the Warner Bros in the 30s. The film is actually one of the first of its kind – although other examples date back to the Spanish-American war of 1898 when sea battles were re-enacted by Vitagraph’s founders in bath tubs. It has to be said, this isn’t too convincing, staged, as it so obviously is, in some late-Victorian English country house. It’s certainly action-packed though, with fiendish boxers descending on the missionaries with the kind of energy usually seen from Chinese waiters pursuing non-paying customers on a Friday night.
Attack on a China Mission contains an early example of cross-cutting, showing British soldiers coming to the rescue of the missionaries between shots of the Boxer rebels swinging their machetes and ransacking the house, but other than that it’s quite unremarkable.
(Reviewed 10th June 2014)