The Battle at Lake Changjin

The Battle at Lake Changjin (Chinese: 长津湖) is a 2021 Chinese war film co-directed by Chen Kaige, Tsui Hark and Dante Lam. It was written by Lan Xiaolong and Huang Jianxin, produced by Yu Dong, and stars Wu Jing and Jackson Yee.[5][6][7]

The Battle at Lake Changjin
Official movie poster to The Battle at Lake Changjin.png
Theatrical release poster
Traditional長津湖
Simplified长津湖
MandarinChángjīn hú
LiterallyChangjin Lake
Directed byChen Kaige
Tsui Hark
Dante Lam
Written byLan Xiaolong
Huang Jianxin
Produced byYu Dong
Starring
CinematographyPan Luo
Peter Pau
Music byElliot Leung
Zhiyi Wang
Production
companies
Distributed byDistribution Workshop
CMC Pictures
Release dates
  • September 21, 2021 (2021-09-21) (BIFF)
  • September 30, 2021 (2021-09-30) (China)
  • November 11, 2021 (2021-11-11) (Singapore)[1]
Running time
178 minutes
CountryChina
LanguageMandarin
BudgetUS$200 million
Box officeUS$909.7 million[2][3][4]

The Battle at Lake Changjin is the most expensive film ever produced in China to date, with a budget of $200 million.[8] The film's story was commissioned by the publicity department of the Chinese Communist Party and announced as part of the 100th Anniversary of the Chinese Communist Party.[9][10][11][12]

The film has grossed over $909 million at the worldwide box office, making it the second-highest-grossing film of 2021;[13] the highest-grossing film in Chinese cinema history;[2][14] and the highest-grossing non-English film.

PremiseEdit

The film depicts the story of Chinese soldiers forcing American troops to withdraw in a fictionalized retelling of the Battle of the Chosin Reservoir during the Korean War.[15]

CastEdit

MainEdit

  • Wu Jing as Wu Qianli, commander of the 7th Company.
  • Jackson Yee as Wu Wanli, Artillery Platoon soldier of the 7th Company, younger brother of Wu Qianli.

SupportingEdit

ProductionEdit

The story of The Battle at Lake Changjin was commissioned by the National Radio and Television Administration, the Central Military Commission and the Publicity Department of the Chinese Communist Party in Beijing, Hebei and Liaoning.[16][17] The film was produced by Polybona Films. The screenplay was written by Lan Xiaolong, who was responsible for the critically acclaimed drama Soldiers Sortie, and Huang Jianxin. In February 2020, it was reported that Andrew Lau had been offered the job of directing the film, but he was hired to direct Chinese Doctors instead; Chen Kaige, Tsui Hark and Dante Lam were later hired to direct the film. The Battle at Lake Changjin is one of the most expensive films ever made, with a production budget of over US$200 million.[18]

Shooting began in Beijing on October 25, 2020, and ended on May 25, 2021.[19][20] 70,000 People's Liberation Army soldiers acted as extras.[17]

Most of the film was shot on location in Zhejiang.[21] The scene of the People's Volunteer Army boarding trucks to North Korea was filmed at Meishan railway station in Huzhou.[21] Parts of the scenes were filmed in Lishimen Reservoir.[22]

MusicEdit

No.TitleLyricsMusicSingerLength
1."The Most Lovely People (最可爱的人)" (Opening theme)Qing YanLiu Zhaolun (Qing Sang)Jane Zhang4:49
2."Heroic Odes (英雄赞歌)" (Ending theme)Gong MuLiu ChiZhuang Yinan, Cai Yutong, Liang Ruiyang, Peng Youxin, Galaxy Youth TV Art Troupe 
3."Canzonet of Yimeng Mountain (沂蒙山小调)" (Interlude)    

ReleaseEdit

On July 26, 2021, the producers announced that the film was scheduled for release on August 12, 2021.[23] On August 5, the producers announced that the film was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic in China.[24]

The film was selected to be the opening film of the 11th Beijing International Film Festival and premiered on September 21, 2021.[25]

The Battle at Lake Changjin was released on 30 September 2021, in China. It was theatrically released in Hong Kong and Macau on November 11.[26] It was released in North America, the United Kingdom and Ireland on November 19, and is scheduled to be released in Australia on December 2.[27][28]

SequelEdit

A sequel is currently under production likely to be entitled "Water Gate Bridge" (Chinese: 水门桥; Pinyin: Shui Men Qiao).[29][30] The movie will be about a maneuver undertaken by the People's Volunteer Army in the same campaign to destroy a bridge that was used by the US forces as part of their withdrawal.[29]

ReceptionEdit

Box officeEdit

As of January 14, 2022, The Battle at Lake Changjin has earned a total of $909.7 million.[2][3] It is the second-highest-grossing film of 2021 and the highest-grossing film in Chinese history.[14][31] The film earned a total of $82 million in its first two days of release,[18] and reached 1.012 billion yuan ($155.12 million) on October 2.[32] By October 3, it grossed 1.5 billion yuan ($233 million) at the Chinese box office.[33][34] The film earned a total of 2 billion yuan ($310.3 million) in its first five days.[35] On October 6, the film grossed over 3 billion yuan ($465.46 million), becoming the 13th film with a box office of more than 3 billion yuan in China's film history.[36][37]

By the end of its sophomore weekend, it had earned $555.3 million.[38] The film remained atop the Chinese box office for a month, being displaced by No Time to Die during the weekend of October 29–31.[39] It overtook Wolf Warrior 2 on November 24 to become the highest-grossing film in China.[14]

Critical and audience responseEdit

The movie has received positive scores among Chinese filmgoers with 9.5 on Maoyan and 7.6 on Douban.[33] The Global Times said that "the national feeling displayed in the film echoes the rising public sentiment in safeguarding national interests in front of provocations, which has great implications for today's China-US competition."[5] Sun Hongyun, an associate professor at Beijing Film Academy said that the film was "an extraordinary and perfect collusion of capital and political propaganda."[5] The film has been described by The Telegraph as an “anti-US propaganda film”, while the BBC wrote that it was “Chinese propaganda”. Stanley Rosen, a political science professor from the University of Southern California, stated that the release and popularity of the film "is definitely related to the ongoing tensions with the US, and has been promoted that way - sometimes indirectly, but still very clearly".[40][41]

Film critic Todd McCarthy of Deadline Hollywood in reviewing the film, said that "Anyone into big-time action cinema on the largest possible screen will more than get their money’s worth, even if the film is simplistic and entirely predictable in its goals, both as action and politics. But it doesn’t matter how big your screen is at home — if you want to see this at all, see it on a really big screen."[42][43] Conversely, Phil Hoad of The Guardian gave the film a two out of five rating, saying the film was that a "sporadically thrilling, historically dubious account of a Korean war standoff, with all the subtlety of a rocket launcher."[44]

Reviewing the movie for Forbes, Scott Mendelson said "It’s arguably no more jingoistic, at least until the final montage, than (offhand) Pearl Harbor or We Were Soldiers." He further described the movie as spectacular with its "copious mass battle sequences and intricate action set pieces" against what was a "pretty dry war picture" and a "generic war actioner" when compared with The Eight Hundred" (2020 movie).[45]

Reviewing the film in The Independent, Louis Chilton wrote that, while it was fair to describe the movie as propaganda, the same criticism should be directed at similar Hollywood movies such as American Sniper or Captain Marvel. Chilton argues that films such as Zero Dark Thirty and American Sniper likewise fit the definition of "propaganda films", and although the biases and misrepresentations of these movies were picked up on and discussed by western critics, they were seldom described as propaganda. Chilton suggests that "the issue with The Battle at Lake Changjin is not that it indoctrinates its audience, but that it fails to clothe its insidious political message in the requisite amount of subtlety."[46]

An article in the New York Times described the film as a government-sponsored movie that appeared to resonate with the Chinese public at a time of tension in the US-China relationship despite "mixed reviews, a torturous running time and technical errors of military history, tapping into nationalistic sentiment that China’s leader, Xi Jinping, has nurtured" and underscored the extent to which the Chinese Communist Party was determined to shape popular culture.[5]

After the release of the movie, former Chinese journalist Luo Changping was arrested by police and held on the charge of "infringing the reputation and honour of national martyrs" after multiple police reports were filed over his online post in Sina Weibo, where he posted commentary questioning China’s role in the Korean War, drawing criticism from thousands of social media users.[47][48][15]

The film has been banned in Malaysia, a country where the dissemination of communist ideology is illegal.[49]

Deutsche Welle reported that the film has raised anger in South Korea, with the public calling it "propaganda filled with historical inaccuracies." South Korean former diplomat Ra Jong-yil called the film "nonsense" and "whitewashing" and accused it of attempting to reshape the narrative of events during the Korean War. The reaction has raised the possibility that the film will not be distributed in South Korea.[50]

On the review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, 25% of 8 reviews are positive, with an average rating of 5.00/10.[51]

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

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  2. ^ a b c "Daily Box Office". Entgroup. Retrieved January 15, 2022.
  3. ^ a b "The Battle at Lake Changjin (2021)". Box Office Mojo. IMDb. Retrieved January 15, 2022.
  4. ^ "The Battle at Lake Changjin (2021)". The Numbers. Nash Information Services, LLC. Retrieved January 15, 2022.
  5. ^ a b c d Myers, Steven Lee; Chien, Amy Chang (October 5, 2021). "For China's Holidays, a Big-Budget Blockbuster Relives an American Defeat". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Archived from the original on October 7, 2021. Retrieved October 7, 2021.
  6. ^ Patrick, Brzeski (June 23, 2021). "Cannes: Tsui Hark, Chen Kaige and Dante Lam Co-Direct China's Most Expensive Film Ever". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved October 8, 2021.
  7. ^ Christian, Shepherd (October 14, 2021). "Americans vanquished, China triumphant: 2021's hit war epic doesn't fit Hollywood script". The Washington Post. Retrieved October 17, 2021.
  8. ^ Myers, Steven Lee; Chien, Amy Chang (October 5, 2021). "For China's Holidays, a Big-Budget Blockbuster Relives an American Defeat" – via NYTimes.com.
  9. ^ Carice, Witte (October 14, 2021). ""The Battle at Lake Changjin" and China's New View of War". The Diplomat. Retrieved October 17, 2021.
  10. ^ 博纳“中国胜利三部曲”《中国医生》《长津湖》《无名》隆重献礼 [Bona Film Group's "trilogy of China's victory", "Chinese Doctor", "The Battle at Lake Changjin" and "Nameless" are grandly presented]. 163.com (in Chinese). June 13, 2021. Retrieved June 29, 2021.
  11. ^ 《长津湖》电影热映 中美对朝鲜战争的不同叙事 ["Changjin Lake" becomes a box office hit, and China and the United States have different narratives about the Korean War]. BBC (in Chinese). October 6, 2021. Retrieved October 7, 2021.
  12. ^ 中国《长津湖》票房破15亿 高调鼓动抗美援朝爱国主义 [China's "The Battle at Lake Changjin" grosses more than 1.5 billion yuan at the box office, encouraging patriotism to resist US aggression and aid Korea]. Radio Free Asia (in Chinese). October 4, 2021. Retrieved October 7, 2021.
  13. ^ "Boxoffice,China Boxoffice,China film Boxoffice,Weekly Boxoffice,Yearly Boxoffice-EntGroup". english.entgroup.cn.
  14. ^ a b c Shirley Zhao; Alex Millson (November 24, 2021). "China's Top Movie Ever is War Epic About U.S. Defeat". Bloomberg. Bloomberg L. P. Retrieved November 24, 2021.
  15. ^ a b "The Chinese film beating Bond and Marvel at the box office". BBC News. October 16, 2021. Retrieved October 26, 2021.
  16. ^ Xu Xiaolei (许晓蕾) (June 13, 2021). 陈凯歌感慨:《长津湖》的完成是中国电影的大事 [Chen Kaige exclaims that the completion of "The Battle at Lake Changjin" is a major event in Chinese films]. qq.com (in Chinese). Retrieved October 7, 2021. 电影《长津湖》在中宣部和国家电影局的直接指导下策划创作拍摄,也得到了中央军委政治工作部宣传局、北京市委宣传部及辽宁、河北省委宣传部等方面的大力支持。
  17. ^ a b Laura He (October 4, 2021). "China's Korean War propaganda movie smashes box office record". CNN. Retrieved October 7, 2021.
  18. ^ a b Brzeski, Patrick (October 1, 2021). "China Box Office: 'Battle at Lake Changjin' Roars Past $80M as Holiday Weekend Gets Underway". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved October 3, 2021.
  19. ^ Xiao Wan (小万) (October 25, 2020). 抗美援朝电影《长津湖》开机 吴京易烊千玺主演 ["The Battle at Lake Changjin", a film about resisting US aggression and aiding Korea, is started, starring Wu Jing and Jackson Yee]. sina (in Chinese). Retrieved June 29, 2021.
  20. ^ Wu Menglin (吴梦琳) (May 25, 2021). 致敬英雄,电影《长津湖》正式杀青将于年内上映 [To pay tribute to the hero, "The Battle at Lake Changjin" is officially finished and will be released this year]. sichuan.scol.com.cn (in Chinese). Retrieved June 29, 2021.
  21. ^ a b Tang Chenchen (汤晨琛) (October 2, 2021). 电影《长津湖》开头这段镜头 是在湖州长兴煤山货运站拍的. hangzhou.com.cn (in Chinese). Retrieved October 15, 2021.
  22. ^ Wu Dan (吴丹), ed. (October 2, 2021). 2天6亿票房!《长津湖》这些大场面是在长兴煤山货运站. zjol.com.cn (in Chinese). Retrieved October 15, 2021.
  23. ^ Teng Zhao (滕朝) (July 26, 2021). 《长津湖》定档,8月12日全国上映 ["The Battle at Lake Changjin" is scheduled to be released nationwide on 12 August 2021]. Beijing News (in Chinese). Retrieved July 27, 2021.
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  26. ^ William, Yiu (November 16, 2021). "Subsidised Hong Kong schools eligible for up to HK$300,000 in new government funding to boost national education". South China Morning Post. Retrieved November 16, 2021.
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  30. ^ Zuo, Mandy (October 30, 2021). "Mega hit Chinese film The Battle at Lake Changjin set for a sequel". South China Morning Post. Retrieved October 31, 2021.
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  35. ^ Teng Zhao (滕朝) (October 4, 2021). 《长津湖》票房破20亿元,用时5天 [The box office of "The Battle at Lake Changjin" exceeds 2 billion yuan within five days]. Beijing News (in Chinese). Retrieved October 5, 2021.
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  46. ^ Chilton, Louis (October 28, 2021). "If this mega Chinese blockbuster is propaganda, what are Bond and Captain Marvel?". The Independent. Retrieved January 1, 2022. Yes, propaganda can look like The Battle at Lake Changjin. It can look like a Leni Riefenstahl film, black-and-white reels of wide-eyed crowds braying for Adolf Hitler and Nazi speeches. But propaganda can also look like Brie Larson strapping herself into a fighter jet in Captain Marvel, or Bradley Cooper squinting through the sight of a rifle in American Sniper. Propaganda has many faces. Picking and choosing which to recognise can only end badly.
  47. ^ Myers, Steven Lee; Chien, Amy Chang (October 8, 2021). "Chinese Journalist Detained After Criticizing Government-Sponsored Blockbuster". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved November 1, 2021.
  48. ^ "Ex-journalist detained over comments about Chinese soldiers in war movie". South China Morning Post. October 9, 2021.
  49. ^ Ramachandran, Naman (November 23, 2021). "Malaysia Bans Chinese War Movie 'The Battle at Lake Changjin'". Variety. Retrieved November 24, 2021.
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External linksEdit