The Eight Hundred (Chinese: 八佰) is a 2020 Chinese historical war drama film directed by and co-written by Guan Hu, and starring Huang Zhizhong, Oho Ou, Wang Qianyuan, Jiang Wu, Zhang Yi, Du Chun, Vision Wei, Li Chen, and Yu Haoming. The film is based on real life events: the defense of Sihang Warehouse in 1937 Shanghai by Chinese NRA troops during the Battle of Shanghai and the Second Sino-Japanese War.

The Eight Hundred
Theatrical release poster
Hanyu PinyinBābǎi
Directed byGuan Hu
Written by
  • Guan Hu
  • Ge Rui
Produced by
  • Wang Zhonglei
  • Liang Jing
CinematographyCao Yu
Edited by
  • Yiran Tu
  • He Yongyi
Music byAndrew Kawczynski
Distributed byHuayi Brothers
CMC Pictures Holdings (international)
Release date
  • August 21, 2020 (2020-08-21)
Running time
147 minutes
  • Mandarin
  • Japanese
  • English
Budget$80 million[1]
Box office$461.4 million

Originally scheduled for release in July 2019, the premiere and the release was moved to August 21, 2020, nationwide release.[2][3] The film was a critical and commercial success, grossing $461 million worldwide, making it the second highest-grossing film of 2020.[4][5]

Plot edit

During the early days of the Second Sino-Japanese War, and on a greater scale World War II, the Imperial Japanese Army invaded Shanghai in what became known as the Battle of Shanghai. After holding back the Japanese for over 3 months, and suffering heavy losses, the Chinese army was forced to retreat due to the danger of being encircled. Lieutenant Colonel Xie Jinyuan of the 524th Regiment of the under-equipped 88th Division of the National Revolutionary Army, led 452 young officers and soldiers to defend Sihang Warehouse against the 3rd Imperial Japanese Division consisting of around 20,000 troops on a heroic suicidal last stand against the Japanese under an order by Generalissimo of Nationalist China, Chiang Kai-shek. The decision was made to provide a morale boost to the Chinese people after the losses of Beijing and Shanghai, and helped spur support from the Western powers, who were in full view of the battle from the International Settlement in Shanghai just across the Suzhou Creek.[6]

Cast edit

Production edit

Guan Hu had been preparing for the film for 10 years.[7] The Eight Hundred is the first Chinese film or commercial Asian film shot entirely on IMAX cameras.[8][9] The production team had built a real set of 68 buildings with an area of 133,333 square metres (1,435,180 square feet) in Suzhou, east China's Jiangsu province.[10] The investment amount of the film is as high as RMB 550,000,000 (US$ 80,000,000).[7]

Principal photography started on 9 September 2017 and wrapped on 27 April 2018.[10][11]

Soundtrack edit

A theme song for the film titled "Remembering" (苏州河) was written by Bob Ezrin, Shridhar Solanki, Cheng Zhang and Isabel Yue Yin based on the melody of the Londonderry Air and was performed by Andrea Bocelli and Na Ying. The theme song had both an English and Mandarin version. The theme song was accompanied by the film's main theme and score written by Rupert Gregson-Williams and Andrew Kawczynski.

The Eight Hundred Official Movie Soundtrack
Name Author/Singer(s) Duration
When I Turn to Dust Andrew Kawczynski 2:48
Great City in Ruins Andrew Kawczynski 2:48
Day 1 Andrew Kawczynski 4:51
White Horse Andrew Kawczynski 1:50
Imminent Danger Andrew Kawczynski 3:10
Overstepped Boundaries Andrew Kawczynski 5:29
Day 2 Andrew Kawczynski 4:10
True Heroes Andrew Kawczynski 5:36
Day 3 Andrew Kawczynski 4:01
Pure Gold Fears No Fire Andrew Kawczynski 4:39
A Vision Andrew Kawczynski 2:50
Day 4 Andrew Kawczynski 4:55
Politics of War Andrew Kawczynski 3:59
The World is Watching Us Andrew Kawczynski 3:12
Before the Dawn Andrew Kawczynski 3:32
Take Cover Andrew Kawczynski 6:48
Last Stand Andrew Kawczynski 2:35
You Will See My Smile Andrew Kawczynski 2:37
Remembering (Chinese Version) Andrea Bocelli and Na Ying 4:51
Remembering (International Version) Andrea Bocelli and Na Ying 4:52

Release edit

The film was originally scheduled to premiere on 15 June 2019 during the prestigious opening slot of the Shanghai International Film Festival but was pushed back to 5 July, due to "consultation between the production team and other entities".[12][13] Before the withdrawal, the Chinese Red Culture Research Association, a non-governmental group, held an academic conference on filmmaking where attendees voiced opinions on the film.[9][14] Attendees did not agree with the portrayal of the National Revolutionary Army, saying the film failed to portray "the class oppression within the ranks of the Kuomintang army, the misdeeds of its officers and its evil oppression of the people".[9] According to a report published on the social media platform WeChat, the participants complained that the film excessively glorified the Kuomintang army.[14][15]

Afterwards, the film's screening at the Shanghai film festival was cancelled. Jia Zhangke, a prominent filmmaker, criticised the decision, saying on Sina Weibo "[things] cannot be done like that for the moviemaking business".[16]

The film was then delayed yet again from its 5 July 2019 release date.[17] Pushed back by over a year for failing to pass the censors, on 2 August 2020, the producers announced that the film was scheduled for release on 21 August 2020 nationwide in China.[9][18] The theatrical version is said to be 13 minutes shorter than the one that would have screened in 2019 at the Shanghai film festival.[19]

Reception edit

Box office edit

Previews of the film were screened on Friday 14 August, making $2.1 million, then on Monday 17 August and Tuesday 18 August, making about $7.6 million each night for a preview total of $16.8 million.[20] It then made $40 million on its official opening day.[21] It went on to gross a total of $116 million (RMB 803.2) in its opening weekend (including previews), the biggest debut of 2020 up to that point.[22] In calendar year 2020, The Eight Hundred had grossed more in a single territory than any other release, having made $366 million in China.[23][24] In total, it earned $484.2 million,[25] making it the second highest-grossing film of 2020.

Critical response edit

On review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 88% based on 25 critic reviews, with an average rating of 6.8/10.[26] On Metacritic, it has a weighted average score of 64 out of 100, based on 7 critic reviews, indicating "generally favorable reviews."[27]

Ian Freer from Empire awarded the film 4 stars out of 5, writing, "The Eight Hundred is sprawling, and doesn’t do anything in a hurry — the main title appears 20 minutes in — and there are ultimately too many characters to care about, but everywhere you turn there is fantastic filmmaking, flitting between grand sweep and quieter moments."[28]

Maggie Lee of Variety described the film as "monumental, if sometimes unwieldy", comparing it to Dunkirk (2017) and writing, "the saga does share similar sentiments of survival, grit and triumph in defeat ... it too plunges audiences into both the intimacy and magnitude of brutal war spectacle while immersing them in a stunningly mounted period canvas." However, she also felt that "the character roster is so bloated, it’s hard to keep up with their trajectories — and ultimately, to care deeply. As Col. Xie Jinyuan, whose leadership was the driving force of their indomitable resilience, Du Chun displays almost no range in his performance."[29]

Cath Clarke of The Guardian awarded the film 3 stars out of 5, characterizing the film as an “Ear-rattling, breathtaking battle for [the] Chinese Alamo ... Guan goes hammer and tongs with the special effects, delivering stupendously, joint-rattlingly-loud battle scenes and combat sequences edited to the lightning pace of a superhero movie." However, he expressed that "it’s hard to care much about who lives or dies", because "with so much intense focus lavished on the action, there’s none to spare for the characters’ emotional lives".[30] While Steve Rose, also of The Guardian, asked, "Is The Eight Hundred an exhilarating war movie – or slick propaganda?" in part because, Rose said, "In 2018, the Communist party’s propaganda department took direct control of the entertainment industry."[31]

Michael Ordoña of the Los Angeles Times, reviewing the shorter theatrical version of the film, similarly commented that it "skips over the whole character-development part, along with the logic of many choices and scenes ... Rather than immersing us in the moment as, say, Black Hawk Down does with its unrelenting intensity, Eight Hundred has plenty of meandering downtime spread out among its massive cast of characters. Yet somehow, we don’t get to know any of these folks.” He added that it celebrated "fervent nationalism" or "fetishized martyrdom" and described the "sort-of protagonists" as "more types than actual people".[32]

Accolades edit

Award Date of ceremony Category Recipient(s) Result Ref.
Visual Effects Society Awards April 6, 2021 Outstanding Created Environment in a Photoreal Feature Sefano Cieri, Aaron Auty, Simon Carlile, Patrick Zentis (for 1937 Shanghai Downtown) Nominated [33]
Jamie Macdougall, Mark Honer, David Pekarek (for Shanghai Warehouse District) Nominated
Golden Reel Awards April 16, 2021 Outstanding Achievement in Sound Editing – Foreign Language Feature Kang Fu,

Steve Miller,

Ai Long Tan,

Lan Long,

Fei Yu

Won [34]

See also edit

References edit

  1. ^ Patrick Brzeski (25 June 2019). "China's $80M War Film 'The Eight Hundred' Cancels Release After Suspected Government Pressure". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 13 August 2020.
  2. ^ Brzeski, Patrick (2019-07-25). "China's $80M War Film 'The Eight Hundred' Cancels Release After Suspected Government Pressure". The Hollywood Reporter. Archived from the original on 2019-06-25. Retrieved 2020-08-13.
  3. ^ "War epic film 'The Eight Hundred' to hit Chinese theaters". China Daily. 2020-08-05. Archived from the original on 2020-08-05. Retrieved 2020-08-13.
  4. ^ Tartaglione, Nancy (27 April 2021). "'Godzilla Vs Kong' Thrashes Past $400M Global; 'Demon Slayer' Reaches New WW Milestone – International Box Office". Deadline.
  5. ^ Xu, Ting Ting (2020-11-12). "New Asian Cinema: The Eight Hundred (Babai), (China)". Golden Globe Awards. Archived from the original on 2020-11-14. Retrieved 2021-01-31.
  6. ^ Yau, Elaine (2020-08-27). "Chinese war movie The Eight Hundred a hit with film-goers, but critics say it is sensationalist and distorts history". South China Morning Post. Archived from the original on 2020-08-27. Retrieved 28 August 2020.
  7. ^ a b Lao Meng (老孟) (2020-08-03). 耗资5.5亿,筹备超10年,7位影帝3位影后,《八佰》真的来了!. (腾讯网) (in Chinese). Archived from the original on 2021-02-19. Retrieved 13 August 2020.
  8. ^ Flannery, Russell (2020-08-30). "IMAX Back On Track In China With "The Eight Hundred," Theater Reopenings: Forbes China Forum". Forbes. Archived from the original on 2021-02-19. Retrieved 2020-09-10.
  9. ^ a b c d Frater, Patrick (2020-08-02). "'The Eight Hundred' Controversial War Film Finally Given China Release Date". Variety. Archived from the original on 2020-08-02. Retrieved 13 August 2020.
  10. ^ a b Xiaoyang (小羊), Wang () (2017-09-09). 管虎战争片《八佰》苏州正式开机 搭建200亩实景建筑 再现30年代上海风貌. (in Chinese). Archived from the original on 2021-02-19. Retrieved 2020-08-13.
  11. ^ Xiaoyang (小羊), Wang () (2018-04-27). 管虎执导战争电影《八佰》杀青. (in Chinese). Archived from the original on 2021-02-13. Retrieved 2020-08-13.
  12. ^ Chu, Henry; Davis, Rebecca (2017-06-25). "Already Pulled From Shanghai Festival, 'The Eight Hundred' Cancels Its China Release". Variety. Patrick Frater contributed to this report. Archived from the original on 2019-06-29. Retrieved 13 August 2020.
  13. ^ Xiaoyang (小羊), Wang () (2019-06-14). 上影节开幕片《八佰》取消放映"因技术原因取消" 时代背景1937淞沪会战. (in Chinese). Archived from the original on 2021-02-19. Retrieved 2020-08-13.
  14. ^ a b Myers, Steven Lee (2019-06-26). "Patriotic Movie Apparently Falls Afoul of China's Censors". The New York Times. Beijing. ISSN 0362-4331. Archived from the original on 2019-06-26. Retrieved 2021-02-19.
  15. ^ 在新中国成立70周年之际,我们应当拿出什么样的献礼片?——电影创作倾向问题学术研讨会纪要. Weixin (in Chinese). 2019-06-10. Archived from the original on 2021-02-19. Retrieved 2021-02-19.
  16. ^ Yau, Elaine (2020-06-17). "Chinese war film The Eight Hundred's release cancelled, days after it was pulled from Shanghai film festival". South China Morning Post. Archived from the original on 2019-06-17. Retrieved 2020-08-13.
  17. ^ Xiaoyang (小羊), Wang () (2019-06-25). 《八佰》开启预售?无法购票系误会 管虎执导 曾因技术原因取消上影节放映. (in Chinese). Archived from the original on 2021-02-19. Retrieved 2020-08-13.
  18. ^ 《八佰》正式定档8月21日上映. (in Chinese). 2 August 2020. Archived from the original on 2021-02-19. Retrieved 13 August 2020.
  19. ^ Davis, Rebecca (2020-08-23). "'The Eight Hundred' Marches to $119 Million Total at Chinese Box Office". Variety. Archived from the original on 2020-08-23. Retrieved 2020-09-06.
  20. ^ Tartaglione, Nancy (2020-08-19). "'The Eight Hundred' Coming On Strong In China Previews, Tops $20M – International Box Office". Deadline Hollywood. Archived from the original on 2020-08-19. Retrieved 2020-08-19.
  21. ^ Frater, Patrick (2020-08-21). "China's 'The Eight Hundred' Hits $40 Million Box Office Total on Opening Day". Variety. Archived from the original on 2021-02-19. Retrieved 2020-08-21.
  22. ^ Tartaglione, Nancy (2020-08-23). "'The Eight Hundred' Storms $83M Three-Day China Opening, Rises To $116M Including Previews To Score 2020 Records – International Box Office". Deadline Hollywood. Archived from the original on 2020-08-23. Retrieved 2020-08-23.
  23. ^ Mendelson, Scott (2020-08-27). "China's 'Eight Hundred' Reaches Huge Box Office Milestone For 2020". Forbes. Archived from the original on 2021-02-19. Retrieved 2020-08-28.
  24. ^ Tartaglione, Nancy (August 30, 2020). "'Tenet' Triumphs With $53M Worldwide Launch From 40 Offshore Markets & Canada – International Box Office". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved August 30, 2020.
  25. ^
  26. ^ "The Eight Hundred (2020)". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango. Retrieved October 30, 2021.
  27. ^ "The Eight Hundred Reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved November 14, 2020.
  28. ^ Freer, Ian (2020-09-18). "The Eight Hundred Review". Empire. Archived from the original on 2020-09-22. Retrieved 2021-02-19.
  29. ^ Lee, Maggie (2020-08-26). "The Eight Hundred Film Review". Variety. Archived from the original on 2020-08-29. Retrieved 2020-08-28.
  30. ^ Clarke, Cath (2020-09-16). "The Eight Hundred review – ear-rattling, breathtaking battle for 'Chinese Alamo'". The Guardian. Archived from the original on 2020-09-16. Retrieved 16 September 2020.
  31. ^ Rose, Steve (18 September 2020). "The Eight Hundred: how China's blockbusters became a new political battleground". The Guardian. Retrieved 29 December 2021.
  32. ^ Ordaña, Michael (16 September 2020). "Review: Chinese soldiers face overwhelming odds in historical war blockbuster 'Eight Hundred'". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 17 September 2020.
  33. ^ Pederson, Erik (March 2, 2021). "VES Awards Nominations: 'Tenet', 'Midnight Sky', 'Extraction', 'Soul' & 'Mandalorian' Among Titles In Visual Effects Hunt". Deadline. Retrieved March 2, 2021.
  34. ^ Pedersen, Erik (April 17, 2021). "'Trial Of The Chicago 7', 'Soul', 'Queen's Gambit' & 'Mandalorian' Lead Sound Editors' Golden Reel Awards – Winners List".

External links edit