Jim Laurie Documentary 'Unruly Dragon' (1988)

Jim Laurie Documentary 'Unruly Dragon' (1988)

For educational and historical interest only. This is a 1988 travel documentary focused on China’s Huang He or Yellow River. Full credits below. A quality DVD of this film is available through TCM – Turner Classic Movies

Background: In the 1980’s NHK, Japan’s national broadcaster, was among the first to shoot in China extensive co-production documentaries. China was virtually closed off to foreign film makers until the late 1970’s and early 1980’s. In partnership with China Central Television, NHK produced two major films – one on the ‘Silk Road’ and another on the Yellow River. In 1987, Laurie having completed his first residency in China, was based in Tokyo. ABC News chose to adapt the NHK film for American television.
Looking back 26 year later: 1988 was a time of less critical examination of China, an atmosphere that changed a year later when the Beijing government brought to a violent end the Spring 1989 Tian An Men reform movement.
The film also shows parts of China including Tibet that have changed dramatically in the last twenty years. Ex: 2006, Chinese authorities began efforts to end the Tibetan practice of SKY BURIALS as portrayed in the film. As an historical document, it has some value in 2014.
It aired at 10 pm April 3, 1988 and received a poor critical response from the New York Times. The Times led: “”The Unruly Dragon” flows along like its subject, the Yellow River in China. It’s long and it’s muddy, but it has lots of bright flashes of color.” full review at

Director: Consuelo Gonzalez; Writer & Producer: Pamela Ridder; Writer: Jim Laurie; Anchor Jim Laurie; Executive Producer: Av Westin.

1 thought on “Jim Laurie Documentary 'Unruly Dragon' (1988)”

  1. The Yellow River is finally "tamed".  By the 1990s, China had built many dams to control the Yellow River during high flows of the river and thus have eliminated the flooding of lower regions that have been the problem for thousands of years.

    As a result of the many dams built on the Yellow River, water could be diverted for irrigation.  This has allowed many new agricultural areas to be developed from the diverted Yellow River water.

    HOWEVER, the catch is that SO much water has been diverted that the river barely has enough water to make it to the ocean.

    Thus the Yellow River is the equivalent of the Colorado River in the United States.

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