First Born (1921)

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Even though most of the actors are Caucasian, with the exception of star Sessue Hayakawa, this tragic romantic drama tries to remain true to the spirit of the Orient (or at least what white folks assumed it was like). Loey Tsing (Helen Jerome Eddy), the first love of Chan Wang (Hayakawa), is sold into slavery by her father. Although Chan marries another, he still loves Loey; only the birth of a son relieves his unhappiness. He adores little Chan Toy ("Sonny Boy" Warde) even though he finds nothing to like about his wife. Through his job running a lumber yard in San Francisco, Chan comes to the home of a wealthy Chinaman, Man Low Yek (Goro Kino). It turns out that he is Loey Tsing's master. When Man Low Yek sees the two together, he angrily swears revenge and invites Chan's unfaithful wife up to the house. She brings Chan Toy, and the frightened little boy falls out a window. Chan finds him crumbled and dead and is overcome with grief. Through the use of his wiles, he causes the death of both Man Low Yek and his wife. Then he and Loey Tsing return home to China together. This drama was based on the turn-of-the-century stage play by Francis Powers.

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Keywords

family-member, jealousy, lover, marriage, master [expert], murder, revenge, separation, slavery, tragic-love