Operation Red Sea

Operation Red Sea (Chinese: 红海行动) is a 2018 Chinese action war film directed by Dante Lam and starring Zhang Yi, Huang Jingyu, Hai Qing, Du Jiang and Prince Mak. The film is loosely based on the evacuation of the 225 foreign nationals and almost 600 Chinese citizens from Yemen's southern port of Aden during late March in 2015 Yemeni Civil War.[4] The film is in similar style to that of Operation Mekong.[5]

Operation Red Sea
Operation Red Sea poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
MandarinHóng Hǎi Xíng Dòng
Directed byDante Lam
Produced byYu Dong
Written byFeng Ji
Music byElliot Leung
  • Yuen Man Fung
  • Wing-Hang Wong
Release date
  • 16 February 2018 (2018-02-16)
Running time
139 minutes[1]
  • Mandarin
  • English
  • Arabic
BudgetUS$70 million
Box officeUS$579.2 million[2]
(CN¥3.650 billion)[3]

It serves as the highlight film presented to audiences as a gift for the 90th anniversary of the founding of the Chinese People's Liberation Army, as well as the party's 19th National Congress.[6] This film is said to be "China's first modern naval film".[7] The film has grossed USD$579 million, and received critical acclaim from critics, making it currently the fourth-highest-grossing ever in China and highest grossing Chinese film in 2018. It was selected as the Hong Kong entry for the Best Foreign Language Film at the 91st Academy Awards, but it was not nominated.[8]


While on duty and touring through the waters of the Red Sea, the Chinese Navy patrol fleet receives a distress call that Somalian pirates are boarding a cargo ship called the Guangdong and endangering Chinese passengers and seamen on board. They immediately deploy the 8-person Jiaolong Assault Team as their forward unit to try to slow the progress of the pirates until the heavily armed naval vessels can arrive on the scene. Using the assistance of a forward helicopter and a sniper dispatched as part of the assault team, they make significant progress to neutralize the situation and manage to eliminate all the Somali pirates onboard while awaiting the main Chinese fleet on duty in the Red Sea. During the operations, the pirate leader attempts to escape, and though eventually he was captured, their primary sniper receives a crippling spinal injury from gunfire during the pursuit and must be replaced. The assault team is praised for their success once the main fleet arrives.

Later, when the civil war situation in the nation of Yewaire on the Arabian Peninsula becomes unstable, orders are given to evacuate local Chinese personnel and workers from the country. Given the unrest and threats from rebels and local terrorist groups, the Jiaolong Assault team is assigned the task of evacuating the Chinese citizens to safety aboard the main Chinese naval vessels in temporary harbor in the area. Meanwhile, a Chinese-French journalist working in the area receives news that the local terrorist organization, Zaka, are prepared to impede local cooperation with the Chinese by all available military and terrorist means available. The Jiaolong squad manages to save the Chinese civilians caught in the warzone and the PAP gendarmerie forces guarding the ambassador just in a nick of time while also saving an Arabic man forced to participate as a car bomber.

The terrorists are also uncovered to have plans to weaponize yellowcake materials into a dirty bomb. The eight-person forward assault team is given very poor support by the local government which is in turmoil. They must also relocate the Yewaire civilians working there to a safe deployment area 75 miles away using only a jeep convoy for transportation.

The convoy is ambushed by terrorists, and takes significant losses from a trained sniper and mortar attacks. All the Moroccan civilians and local government troops are killed, except the journalist. Zaka uses a kidnapped Chinese citizen as a bargaining chip so that the Chinese navy will release the Yewairian President, and beheads another hostage as an example. Jiaolong and the journalist track down the hostage (first priority of the mission) to a terrorist stronghold with 150 militants, the local leader Sayyid, and armed with mechanized artillery and tanks. The assault team moves in with a risky plan involving covertly swapping the Chinese hostage and the journalist. Although the initial plan goes well at first, the plan backfires when the jeep the team uses gets a flat tire attracting attention, with no other choice the Jialong commandos are forced to reveal themselves and fight off hordes of terrorists in the compound. Eventually the Jiaolong commandos are separated with 1 team escaping in a jeep, another in a tank and another attempting to escape through another exit. The enemy sniper from earlier reappears; the replacement Jiaolong sniper and his spotter are able to take him out. The operation eventually succeeds in evacuating all the hostages, but two Jiaolong members are killed in action during the chaos and another two are heavily injured.

The four remaining members later wingsuit into the yellowcake exchange site between the terrorists and the rebel group. Zaka backstabs the rebels, and in the chaos the Chinese operatives manage to corner the terrorist leader, who commits suicide. Jiaolong retrieves the dirty bomb recipe and captures the cargo plane carrying the yellowcake. Back on board the Chinese fleet, the fallen soldiers are honored for their courage under fire. Before the end credits, 5 Chinese naval vessels intercept 3 US Navy ships warning them they have entered Chinese waters and must leave immediately.


Based on official Weibo page:[9]

  • Zhang Yi as Yang Rui, team leader
  • Huang Jingyu as Gu Shun, replacement sniper
  • Du Jiang as Xu Hong, deputy team leader, demolitions specialist
  • Hai Qing as Xia Nan, Chinese-French journalist
  • Wang Yutian as Zhang Tiande ("Rocky"), squad machinegunner
  • Jiang Luxia as Tong Li, squad machine gunner and only female member
  • Yin Fang as Li Dong, spotter
  • Henry Prince Mak as Zhuang Yu, squad signaller
  • Guo Jiahao as Lu Chen, squad medic
  • Huang Fenfen as Deng Mei a Greenville Energy corporation employee and hostage
  • Michelle Bai as an energy corporation employee and hostage
  • Zhang Hanyu as Gao Yun, fleet commander
  • Jacky Cai as a PLA drone pilot
  • Wang Qiang as Zhao Haiqiang, fleet commissar of the Chinese ship Linyi
  • Simon Yam as Albert a Chief Editor of a local Moroccan newspaper and Xia Nan's boss
  • Wang Yanlin as Luo Xing, the primary Jiaolong team sniper
  • Sanâa Alaoui as Ena, a local Arabic village girl who helps the Jialong team
  • Khalid Benchagra as Dr William Parsons, the corrupted head of the Greenville Energy Corporation
  • Ayoub Layoussifi as Abu, Xia Nan's Arabic friend and co-worker
  • Hassane Guannouni as Sayyid, The leader of the Zaka extremist group
  • Mezouari Houssam as Taha, a young but deadly Arabic sniper in the Zaka extremist group


Principal photography began in mid February 2017 in Morocco and employed 400 Moroccans and 300 Chinese as part of the technical crew group.[10][11]


Operation Red Sea Original Motion Picture Soundtrack
Studio album by
ReleasedFebruary 2, 2018
GenreFilm soundtrack
LabelPlaza Mayor Company Ltd.

Elliot Leung composed the score to Operation Red Sea, and a digital album consisting of 22 tracks was released two weeks prior to the Chinese premiere on February 2nd. A limited edition, autographed by both Elliot Leung and Dante Lam was given out only to those who were invited to the film premiere.[12]


Box officeEdit

Operation Red Sea opened in fourth taking US$76.6 million and climbed to second in its second week, finally reached the top in its third week, taking US$144.2 million for US$498 million after 17 days.[13] It won the international weekend with US$62.6 million to top Black Panther for the second frame in a row.[14] The film led the Chinese film market in the third week earning RMB868 million while Detective Chinatown 2 earned RMB483 million and Monster Hunt 2 about RMB162 million.[15] The film succeeded in moving to the top, knocking Detective Chinatown 2 to second place, while Monster Hunt 2 remained in third. After 23 days of released, Operation Red Sea grossed more than RMB3.4 billion and finally became the top grossing film of Spring Festival of all the time in China, surpassing the previous highest-grossing, The Mermaid.[16]

In the United States and Canada, Operation Red Sea took the highest gross, taking in US$510,000 in 45 theaters on its opening weekend averaging US$11,333, the best per-theater average among the specialty debuts. Distributor Well Go USA touted its launch, which outranked preceding weekend’s Detective Chinatown 2 when comparing straight averages, though that film played 115 runs in its debut.[17]

Critical responseEdit

The review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes reported an 80% approval rating based on 10 reviews, and an average rating of 8/10.[18]


Award Date of ceremony Category Recipient(s) and nominee(s) Result Reference
8th Beijing International Film Festival 22 April 2018 Best Visual Effects Operation Red Sea Won [19]
25th Beijing College Student Film Festival 6 May 2018 Best Film Won [20]
Best Actor Zhang Yi Nominated [21]
Best Visual Effects Operation Red Sea Nominated
14th Changchun Film Festival Best Feature Film Won [22]
Best Supporting Actor Eric Wang Nominated [23]
Huang Jingyu Nominated
Best Supporting Actress Wang Luxia Won [24]
Best Cinematography Feng Yuanwen Won
34th Hundred Flowers Awards Best Picture Operation Red Sea Won [25][26]
Best Director Dante Lam Won
Best Writing Dante Lam, Feng Ji, Chen Zhuzhu, Lin Mingjie Nominated
Best Actor Zhang Yi Nominated
Best Actress Hai Qing Nominated
Best Supporting Actor Zhang Hanyu Nominated
Du Jiang Won
Best Supporting Actress Jiang Luxia Won
Best Newcomer Wang Yutian Won
Huang Jingyu Nominated
5th Hengdian Film and TV Festival of China Film Outstanding Contribution Award Operation Red Sea Won [27]
17th New York Asian Film Festival Daniel A. Craft Award Dante Lam Won [28]
31st Tokyo International Film Festival - Gold Crane Award Best Feature Film Operation Red Sea Won [29]
Most Popular Actor Huang Jingyu Won [30]
Best Actress Hai Qing Won [31]
17th Huabiao Awards 8 Dec 2018 Outstanding Film Operation Red Sea Won
Outstanding Director Dante Lam Won
2019 ASCAP Awards 15 May 2019 ASCAP Screen Music Award Elliot Leung Won

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "OPERATION RED SEA [Subtitled] (18)". British Board of Film Classification. 13 February 2018. Retrieved 5 March 2018.
  2. ^ "Operation Red Sea (2018)". Box Office Mojo. IMDb. Retrieved 6 May 2018.
  3. ^ "红海行动(2018)". China Box Office (in Chinese). Entgroup. Retrieved 7 April 2018.
  4. ^ "Yemen crisis: China evacuates citizens and foregners from Aden". BBC News. BBC. 3 April 2015. Retrieved 3 March 2017.
  5. ^ "驻摩使馆文化参赞探班《刀锋-红海行动》剧组". ChinaCulture.org (in Chinese). Ministry of Culture and Tourism of the People's Republic of China. 2 March 2017. Retrieved 3 March 2017.
  6. ^ Sina Entertainment (24 March 2017). "黄景瑜庆祝中国队胜利 长期不换的裤子惹亮眼". Sina Entertainment. Sina Corp. Retrieved 24 March 2017.
  7. ^ Emperor Motion Pictures (19 May 2017). "《红海行动》亮相戛纳 林超贤打造最强反恐动作片". WeChat. Retrieved 19 May 2017.
  8. ^ Chu, Karen (24 September 2018). "Oscars: Hong Kong Selects 'Operation Red Sea' for Foreign-Language Category". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 24 September 2018.
  9. ^ "电影红海行动#"战火连天"版片场纪录特辑发布!". Operation Red Sea Official Weibo. Sina Weibo. 9 January 2018. Retrieved 9 January 2018.
  10. ^ "Desert Storm (Feature Film)". Moroccan Cinematographic Center. Retrieved 3 March 2017.
  11. ^ Igrouane, Youssef (27 February 2017). "Cinema: Chinese Tanks and Soldiers Invade Rabat". Morocco World News. Retrieved 3 March 2017.
  12. ^ filmmusicreporter (14 January 2018). "'Operation Red Sea' Soundtrack Details". Film Music Reporter. Retrieved 27 May 2018.
  13. ^ Wong, Silvia (5 March 2018). "China box office: 'Operation Red Sea' helps set new world record". Screen Daily. Screen International. Retrieved 10 March 2018.
  14. ^ Tartaglione, Nancy. "'Black Panther' Roars To $910M WW, $403M Overseas – International Box Office". Deadline Hollywood. Penske Business Media. Retrieved 10 March 2018.
  15. ^ Li (7 March 2018). ""Operation Red Sea" tops Chinese box office". Xinhua News Agency. Retrieved 10 March 2018.
  16. ^ "还记得 电影红海行动 早前立下的flag吗?". Operation Red Sea Official Weibo. Sina Weibo. 10 March 2018. Retrieved 16 March 2018.
  17. ^ Brooks, Brian. "'Operation Red Sea' Tops Newcomers; 'The Shape of Water' Crosses $55M – Specialty Box Office". Deadline Hollywood. Penske Business Media. Retrieved 10 March 2018.
  18. ^ "Operation Red Sea (2018)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 25 January 2020.
  19. ^ Li, Xia (23 April 2018). "Award winners of Tiantian Award 2018 announced during 8th BJIFF". Xinhua News Agency. Retrieved 23 April 2018.
  20. ^ Zhang, Xingjian (7 May 2018). "Student film festival draws down the curtain". China Daily. Retrieved 16 July 2018.
  21. ^ "第二十五届北京大学生电影节闭幕式暨颁奖典礼圆满落幕". Tencent (in Chinese). May 7, 2018.
  22. ^ "14th Changchun Film Festival concludes in China's Jilin". Xinhua. September 9, 2018.
  23. ^ "第14届长春电影节". Weibo (in Chinese). September 9, 2018.
  24. ^ "《红海行动》《我不是药神》获长春电影节最佳故事片奖". Xinhua (in Chinese). September 8, 2018.
  25. ^ "第34届大众电影百花奖提名名单公布". Netease (in Chinese). November 7, 2018.
  26. ^ "《红海行动》斩获百花奖五项大奖 吴京拿下最佳男主角 成龙黄晓明亮相红毯". Mtime (in Chinese). November 10, 2018.
  27. ^ ""文荣奖"奖项出炉 陈思诚刘涛获最佳男女主角". Netease (in Chinese). October 22, 2018.
  28. ^ "Dante Lam wins Daniel A. Craft Award at the 17th New York Asian Film Festival". Sina. July 3, 2018.
  29. ^ "第31屆東京國際影展- 维基百科,自由的百科全书". Weibo. October 26, 2018.
  30. ^ "第31屆東京國際影展- 维基百科,自由的百科全书". Weibo (in Chinese). October 26, 2018.
  31. ^ "第31屆東京國際影展- 维基百科,自由的百科全书". Weibo (in Chinese). October 26, 2018.

External linksEdit