"Soong Sisters" Movie Summary

by Scott Cornell

"The Soong Sisters" is a 1997 Chinese historical drama that follows the lives of three sisters from the Soong family dynasty. It is set in the early 20th Century and was filmed primarily on location in Beijing and in Beijing movie studios. The movie was filmed in Mandarin and is available in English subtitles. "The Soong Sisters" was directed by Mabel Cheung, written by Alex Law, and had a budget of $50-million, according to IMDb.com. It has a run time of 145 minutes.


The movie follows the lives of three sisters from the Soong family in early 20th Century China. The Soongs were a political dynasty that rose to high political office in the country prior to its Communist days. The daughters, however, were schooled in the United States and then returned to China. The film follows the sisters throughout their childhood and into adulthood, where they eventually marry. Along the way, they encounter important figures in China's history and experience the establishment of the Republic of China.


The main characters are the three Soong sisters. Soong Ai-ling, played by Madam Kung, is the oldest daughter who marries a powerful and wealthy businessman, who eventually becomes Hong Kong's finance minister. The middle daughter, Soong Chi-ling, played by Madam Sun, eventually marries the revolutionary founder of modern China. The youngest sister, Soong May-ling, played by actress Madam Chiang, marries China's leader during World War II, who was also the successor to the revolutionary founder of Modern China.


The tag line to the movie reads "One loved money. One loved power. One loved China." These differences among the sisters and how it impacts their decisions are very much what drive the film. There's also the aspect of China as a nation and how it evolved during the sisters' lifetimes under various forms of government. It's evident in the sisters' personal lives as well: One of the daughters marries the founder of the Chinese Republic, while another marries his successor, Chian Kai-shek.


Because "The Soong Sisters" was a foreign film, it was rarely reviewed by U.S. movie critics. However, the movie websites Rotten Tomatoes and IMBd.com provide audience reviews. According to Rotten Tomatoes, as of 2011, out of 1,461 ratings, 76 percent liked the film. On IMBd, users gave the film a seven out of 10 ranking. This ranking was based on 475 user votes as of 2011.