Iron Road – A chapter in Chinese Canadian History

sun-liFeisty and gregarious Sun Li, an actress from Shanghai, plays the role of Little Tiger, a Chinese woman who disguised herself as a boy and joined a group of Chinese migrants to Canada to work on the Canadian Pacific Railway during the late 1800.

The movie “Iron Road” was based on the Iron Road Opera, a contemporary opera drama written by Mark Brownell and Chan Ka Nin who were searching for a West Coast producer.  The opera was inspired by a discovery that there was one woman among the 265 migrants to Canada, at a time when women were not allowed in Canada.   Producer Ann Tait from Toronto optioned the film rights to the opera and thus, the film project begun.  The $10 million miniseries is a treaty co-production between Canada and Mainland China.  It has an international cast including Oscar winner Peter O’Toole, Sam Neill, Tony Leung (The Lover), Canadian actor Luke McFarlane and Shanghai actress Sun Li.  The movie was directed by David Wu, originally from Hongkong, now a Chinese Canadian immigrant living in Canada.  The movie is a history docu-drama which tells the struggles and oppressions of early Chinese migrant workers in Canada, who were exploited under extremely dangerous working conditions building the transcontinental Canadian railroad connecting the east to the west.
The movie was shot on location in Kamloops, Kelowna and Lynn Canyon, British Columbia.   The scenes in China were shot in “Chinawood”  at Hengdian World Studios.  In the movie, Sun Li plays a Chinese woman disguised as a boy, who is good with dynamites and was given the task of setting dynamite explosives.  She fell in love with the playboy son of the Canadian railroad tycoon (Sam Neill plays the tycoon, and Luke McFarlane plays the son).   It has all the ingredients of a tear-jerker.  Forbidden love, cross-cultural romance, human tragedy.

The 2-part Iron Road miniseries show on CBC on two consecutive Sunday nights from 8 to 10 pm, August 9 and 16.