Time flows like water, awaking memories in the depths of history. Eight gentle and firm figures emerge from the water arm in arm, their faces beaming like flowers. Daughters of Wusihun River, they lived, and still living, in our memories, in our most profound remembrance.
In early spring, Leng Yun, political instructor of the Women’s Regiment of Anti-Japanese United Army, is leading women soldiers busy with their work. Around the secret camp between the Changbai Mountains and the Black River, the water of streams nourishes the budding flowers on steep cliffs. Men have returned from the battlefield, bringing back captured weapons, joy and love. Leng Yun and her husband Zhou Weiren are enjoying brief familial warmth, Huang Guiqing the soldier and her love Sun Xi is indulging themselves in the ecstasy of love, and Wang Huimin, the youngest woman soldier, is enjoying the girl-specific pampering in the warmth of arms of her father Wang Pi’ao (literally Fur Jacket).. The camp, hidden in the birch wood, separated temporarily from the cruelty of war, is immersed in bliss and hope.
A crude classroom of the Anti-Japanese United Army. Leng Yun is teaching soldiers to write characters, using twigs as pens. The character “family” written in the birch bark invokes homesickness. An Shunfu, a woman solider of Korean nationality, in intoxicated in memory: the beautiful homeland and intoxicating happiness is inspiring, all of a sudden, this happiness is crushed by wild hooves of invaders, leaving alone ruins and wailing, and lone human shapes ... The eight women soldiers are united more closely by common love and hate, with further heartened conviction to fight Japanese invaders.
In the thick of fighting, the eight youthful silhouettes shuttles to and fro amid smokes of gun shelling. Men and women on this land of black soil, men as strong as mountains and women as tender as water, portrait themselves as the unyielding soul of the Anti-Japanese United Army. To distract the enemy from Sun Xi, Wang Pi’ao is badly wounded; Zhou Weiren, unluckily hit with a bullet, leaning against a birch, fights until the last breath ... The river and mountains are weeping in honor of these known and unknown heroes alike. Staying alone, Leng Yun is bearing the heart-rending grief of loss. Then sisters come toward her, holding each other’s hands tightly, they share pain and vow together.
Over the chilling autumn wind floats the solemn and heroic Western Expedition March. Aligned far and wide on the rough river are unmoored. And the departing troopers extend indefinitely. In order not to be a burden to the expedition troops, Leng Yun, holding back her innermost pain, barely brings herself to give her young baby to a mountain villager to raise. While saying goodbye to her child, the mother departs, resolved, never to return, with untold love and loyalty in her heart ...
In wild mountains and marshes, women fighters risk their lives carrying wounded Wang Pi’ao on a stretcher. What with dangers, wounds, fatigue, hunger, and enemy’s successive encirclement, chase, blocking and interception, youthful lives have been taken away of the Anti-Japanese United Army constantly. Eight pairs of hands struggling with each other, each declining to take a corn cake gotten by Sun Xi from God knows nowhere. At last it is given to the extremely weak Wang Pi’ao, who saves it in secret ... At the last moment of life, Wang Pi’ao pours out his affection for little Huiming, and expresses his gratitude and and blessing to these girls. In the dark wilderness, an utterly beautiful dance of love and life is flowing with colors like rainbow.
Dark night of frost and snow. Sun Xi, defecting under the cover of dark, is spotted by Huang Guiqing, standing sentry. After physical and mental scuffling and struggling, in hot tears, Huang Guiqing, resolute and determined, aims her gun at the man she once loved so deeply ... The most grieving gunshot is fired, sending up the most beautiful flowers in the air. Leaning on her gun, Huang Guiqing stumbles along through the snow. Leng Yun and other girls come together in a tight circle to get warmth from a campfire for their shivering bodies.
At dawn there come sharp gun cracks. At the deciding moment of life or death, the eight women fighters make the same choice: to draw enemy fire so that the main force can break out of the encirclement. The eight tattered women warriors, fall and rise up, support each other, continue fighting. That is the last dance of youth, passionate and wild. The river is surging. Resounding along Changbai Mountains and the Black River is the most familiar melody: “My home is on the Songhua River of Northeast ...” Leng Yun takes the lead to walk into the river. Supporting each other, in the early rising sun, these girls walk into the rough water of Wusihun River. What are they singing? The river drowns all the sound. Their lips open and close, as quietly as the opening and falling of flowers. Still, these echoes will resound again from the depths of time.