ARTS / FILM
Korean War epic ‘The Battle at Lake Changjin’ poised to beat China’s No.1 blockbuster ‘Wolf Warrior 2’
Published: Jul 27, 2021 09:03 PM
Photo: Courtesy of Bona Film Group

Photo: Courtesy of Bona Film Group


 
Chinese Korean War epic The Battle at Lake Changjin has the potential to save a sluggish summer season in China and is “likely” to beat record-setting action film Wolf Warrior 2, Chinese film observers said on Tuesday. 

On Monday, it was announced that the big-budget war film would hit Chinese mainland theaters on August 12. The related hashtag quickly earned 270 million views on China’s Twitter-like Sina Weibo. The film currently ranks at No.2 on Chinese ticketing platform Maoyan’s most-anticipated film list behind romance film Upcoming Summer

According to media reports, the Bona Film Group film’s budget is a whopping 1.3 billion yuan ($200 million).

“The film may be a hot commodity this summer among Chinese moviegoers as the entire film market is highly enthusiastic about homegrown films and fans have high expectations due to the film’s cast and crew,” Shi Wenxue, a film critic based in Beijing, told the Global Times on Tuesday.  

Co-directed by Chinese well-known filmmakers Chen Kaige, Hark Tsui and Dante Lam, the film also stars leading actors Wu Jing of Wolf Warrior 2 fame and Jackson Yee, the protagonist of the Oscar-nominated Better Days. 

“It may play a ‘rescue’ role, just like the previous summer holiday blockbusters Wolf Warrior 2 and Dying to Survive,” Shi added.

“I have a strong interest in how the three leading directors divided their work. The cooperation between Chen Kaige, Hark Tsui and Dante Lam is unprecedented in film history,” Xiao Fuqiu, a film critic based in Shanghai, told the Global Times on Tuesday.

But Xiao noted that based on the previous two blockbusters from Bona Film Group – The Bravest and The Captain – he remains only “cautiously optimistic” about the film’s artistic quality.

The Battle at Lake Changjin depicts the sacrifices and heroism of Chinese soldiers during the Korean War (1950-53), or War to Resist US Aggression and Aid Korea. It shows how brave soldiers from the Chinese People’s Volunteer Army overcame difficulties to push US military forces into a retreat.

The summer box office in the Chinese mainland so far has been bleak. As of Monday, the July box office has reached only 4.80 billion yuan, far less than the 8.47 billion yuan earned during the same period in 2019 and the 8.70 billion yuan earned during the same period in 2018.

Although it will be a challenge to beat the 2019 summer record, Shi pointed out that the Chinese mainland is still performing better than overseas film markets, which are still being hit by the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Due to the non-ideal performance in July, the second half of the summer, August, is in urgent need of heavyweight domestic masterpieces to rescue the market. In the eyes of many film insiders, The Battle at Lake Changjin is the only work with the potential to achieve such an important task, and some predict that the film will beat out the 5.69 billion yuan earned by Wolf Warrior 2 to become the highest earning film at the Chinese mainland box office.  

According to media reports, Bona Pictures boss Yu Dongzeng has said that the film’s box-office target is 8 billion yuan.


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