The Vermillion Pencil (1922)

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This melodramatic programmer had a Chinese backdrop and Japanese actor Sessue Hayakawa as its star. Tse Chan (Hayakawa) is the viceroy of China, and when he believes his wife has been unfaithful, he raises "the vermillion pencil," thus sentencing her to a death of "a thousand torments." Afterwards, he finds out that he was wrong and in a fit of remorse, steps down from his throne to go into exile and sends his son, Li Chan (Hayakawa again), to be educated in America. Li Chan eventually returns to China and falls in love with Hyacinth, the daughter of a basket weaver (Bessie Love). She is kidnapped by a mandarin who lusts after her, but Li Chan comes to her rescue. They are captured near an active volcano, however, and the vermillion pencil is about to rise once again. But the volcano erupts, annihilating all in its path. Tse Chan sacrifices himself by jumping into its depths, while Li Chan and Hyacinth make it to safety.

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Keywords

abdication [of power], damsel-in-distress, engineering, execution, extramarital-affair, kidnapping, peasant, rescue, throne, volcano