A nationalistic blockbuster set during the Korean War has become the highest-grossing film ever in China Photo: AFP

Nationalistic war film smashes Chinese box office records


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.

"The Battle at Changjin Lake", a chest-thumping war epic, 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, released on the eve of China's annual October public holiday, proved popular with audiences, smashing the previous box office record of 5.6 billion yuan ($891 million) in ticket sales, ticketing platform Maoyan said Wednesday.

The movie depicts a crucial battle in winter 1950, where Chinese soldiers forced U.S.-led U.N. troops to evacuate from North Korea, fighting in freezing temperatures.

Chinese propaganda has portrayed the clash as an absolute victory necessary to stop the U.S. 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 honor of heroes and martyrs", and faces up to three years in prison if convicted under the 2018 law, which criminalizes the slander of revolutionary war heroes and modern-day soldiers.

"The Battle of Changjin Lake" is not the first patriotic blockbuster to garner widespread public support.

The smash-hit success of the "Wolf Warrior" franchise -- where a swashbuckling Chinese soldier defeats foreign mercenaries -- is credited with kicking off the new wave of nationalistic action films.

The vast majority of films shown in China are domestically produced, with only 34 foreign films allowed domestic release per year.

© 2021 AFP

©2021 GPlusMedia Inc.

Login to comment

I wasn't familiar with the geographical name so I googled it and apparently it's the Chosin Resevoir. I think people who watch this film should also see what the USMC endured during this battle. Nothing short of heroic me thinks.

7 ( +10 / -3 )

Imagine, being jailed for having ‘an opinion’:

“Criticism of the film's message has been met with a heavy-handed response from the authorities, including the arrest of a high-profile former journalist.” -

13 ( +14 / -1 )

Yes, it’s a movie about the battle of Chosen reservoir, from the Chinese point of view.

Very patriotic apparently, & the facts are questionable at best

3 ( +5 / -2 )

its history someone want to rewrite from own perspective.very common all the time.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

The Chinese “patriotic dramas” are good for slapstick comedy if nothing.

The “American” soldiers are generally European or Aus/NZ English teachers doing a side gig, wearing improper uniforms, weapons not form the time period, and sporting hipster facial hair and hairstyles.

Same for the anti-Japan dramas. I never knew the IJA had Jeeps, M4 rifles, and S&W revolvers.

9 ( +9 / -0 )


I haven't seen it yet, but it's the biggest budget Chinese movie ever made. I would wager they would get a lot of the trappings like uniform and weapons right; they had a lot of PLA soldiers as extras too.

Even from some western sources, I have heard mostly pretty good things. Basically "Yeah it is propaganda, but as much as all the hollywood war movies are and the action is really good".

3 ( +5 / -2 )


I have no doubt the production value is better than the patriotic TV dramas, that broadcasters need to meet a production quota for.

However, I doubt any self-respecting US military technical advisor would work on such a film.

Although they may get general details correct, small details that even Hollywood gets wrong sometimes will definitely slip through the cracks. Like calling a magazine a “clip” and vice-versa, placement of patches and insignia, etc, unit logos (those card suits painted on the Airborne helmets aren’t because it looks cool), saying “Alpha” for A instead of the WW2 Korean War era “Able” etc… etc….

5 ( +6 / -1 )

Why not? Hollywood has been butchering history for decades to portray the American military as amazing warriors and morally virtuous, so it's about time other nations redressed the imbalance.

4 ( +7 / -3 )

Nationalistic propaganda has been perfected over the past 100 plus years in tandem with technological advances in the science of mind control. The future looks bleak for mankind content to swallow the blue-pill of state ideology and willingly accept the psychological shackles of herd mentality. Resistance to the "Matrix" of Reich-wing nationalism by weaponizing of truth is the only way out of the box being prepared for us all by the ruling elites of the world. The enormous loss of life suffered by Chinese soldiers during the Korean War was a war crime perpetrated on the people by the state, an all too familiar pattern of every 20th century war. "When will they ever learn?" should be sung by all school children to spite the poisonous indoctrination of militarism promoted by the modern state. Btw. it is salutary to remember that  the USA spends more each year on defense than China, Russia, India, the U.K., Germany, France, Japan, South Korea, and Australia combined.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Why not? Hollywood has been butchering history for decades

Yes lets all support Chinese butchering of history. It's only fair they be allowed to make crappy B grade movies for the masses just like others do. It does not matter that the facts are altered and China made to look good in a war of aggression against South Korea and UN forces.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

Sounds a hoot. I will put it on my DVD shelf along with Mao Zedong: My Struggles Liberating Auschwitz, and Xi Jinping's full feature animation The Illustrated Marxist also featuring Piglet, Eeyore, and Tigger before We Had Him Shot.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

You know who else makes nationalism war movies? That's right, even for the war they lost, Hollywood can spin it into some kind of winning

2 ( +4 / -2 )

Only to be expected from a fascist China, similar patriotism was on display in Nazi Germany and we all know how that ended...

-1 ( +3 / -4 )

2018 law, which criminalizes the slander of revolutionary war heroes and modern-day soldiers.

Revolutionary war heroes were brainwashed idiots giving their lives for manipulative narcissistic criminal leaders and the modern-day Chinese soldiers are equally brainwashed following narcissistic mentally insecure leader.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

You'd never see Hollywood do anything like this. At all. Ever. Nope, never-ever.


9 ( +9 / -0 )

Showing the ambiguity of morals in war has been a Hollywood staple since Gary Cooper and Jimmy Stewart.

Of course there are the mindless shoot’em ups and ultra-patriotic trash movies (I’m looking at you, Pearl Harbor), but those tend to get roundly bashed by the critics, while movies that are more critical of war tend to get higher reviews.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

You'd never see Hollywood do anything like this. At all. Ever. Nope, never-ever.

Not like the Chinese.


-2 ( +1 / -3 )

What cup size was the titular battle ?

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Login to leave a comment

Facebook users

Use your Facebook account to login or register with JapanToday. By doing so, you will also receive an email inviting you to receive our news alerts.

Facebook Connect

Login with your JapanToday account

User registration

Articles, Offers & Useful Resources

A mix of what's trending on our other sites