Battle At Lake Changjin is highest-grossing film in China

Beijing – A nationalistic blockbuster set during the Korean War has racked up hundreds of millions of dollars in ticket sales and become the highest-grossing film ever in China, according to box office data.

Currently showing in cinemas here, The Battle At Lake Changjin, a chest-thumping war epic directed by Chen Kaige, Tsui Hark and Dante Lam and starring Wu Jing and Jackson Yee, is the latest entry in a new era of Chinese action films with explicitly patriotic themes that reflect rising levels of domestic nationalism.

Criticism of the film’s message – which depicts the titular battle as a total victory for Chinese forces – has been met with a heavy-handed response from the authorities, including the arrest of a high-profile former journalist.

But the film proved popular with audiences, smashing the previous box office record of 5.6 billion yuan (S$1.2 billion) in ticket sales, ticketing platform Maoyan said Wednesday.

It depicts a crucial battle in the winter of 1950, where Chinese soldiers forced US-led UN troops to evacuate from North Korea, fighting in freezing temperatures.

A sequel, Water Gate Bridge, is reportedly in the works.

Chinese propaganda has portrayed the clash as an absolute victory necessary to stop the US from capturing North Korea.

The heavy losses sustained by the Chinese side are rarely acknowledged.

Days after the film was released, Luo Changping, a former editor of Caijing magazine who has gained a reputation for exposing official corruption, questioned the justification for sending troops to fight in such brutal conditions.

“Half a century later, Chinese people have barely reflected on the justifiability of the war,” he commented online.
The post was soon censored, and Luo’s Weibo account of two million followers taken offline.

He was detained by police for “infringing on the reputation and honour of heroes and martyrs”, and faces up to three years in prison if convicted under the 2018 law, which criminalises the slander of revolutionary war heroes and modern-day soldiers. - AFP