Korean War becomes new favorite creative mine for Chinese film and TV studios
Published: Nov 23, 2021 10:58 PM
Poster of <em>The Battle at Lake Changjin</em> Photo: Weibo

Poster of The Battle at Lake Changjin Photo: Weibo

After the huge success of the Korean War-themed blockbuster The Battle at Lake Changjin, a series of movies and TV dramas about the war have gone into production as stories of the Chinese People's Volunteers Army has become a new favorite resource for filmmakers to mine.

Fifty-five days after its release, the box office for The Battle at Lake Changjin is still growing by more than 2 million yuan ($313,239) each day. The movie has grossed over 5.688 billion yuan in total as of Tuesday and is expected to surpass military action film Wolf WarriorsⅡ which grossed 5.694 billion yuan as the highest grossing film of all time in the Chinese mainland.

The movie remains in theaters in China and has recently debuted overseas in countries such as the UK, while a TV series is in the works, a rare occurrence according to industry insiders.

Preparation has already begun on the TV series with the tentative title Dong yu Shi (lit: Winter and Lion), but details such as the cast and number of episodes have not been released. The show will adapt the story from the same novel upon which the film was based.

The Battle at Lake Changjin is set during the War to Resist US Aggression and Aid Korea (1950-53) and depicts the Chinese People's Volunteers soldiers' brave fight in a key campaign at Lake Changjin, or Chosin Reservoir, during freezing temperatures.

The series will focus on the young soldiers in the Chinese People's Volunteers, including the characters of Wu Qianli and Wu Wanli from the novel and film, showing their strong spirit to defend the country.

Compared with the movie, which is limited by its runtime, the TV series is expected to depict more from the original novel written by Chinese author Lan Xiaolong and focus more on individuals, enriching details seen in the film.

Poster of Sharpshooter Photo: Weibo

Poster of Sharpshooter Photo: Weibo

Besides this series, Chinese director Zhang Yimou and his daughter Zhang Mou have co-directed another movie, Sharpshooter. Focusing on a Chinese sharpshooter and his comrades during the war, the film is set hit cinemas during the upcoming Spring Festival.

The film Crossing the Yalu River, which has not yet revealed a release date, is reported to offer a comprehensive display of the rapid evolution of the international situation starting from the pre-war and ending with the signing of the Korean War Armistice Agreement. 

More movies and TV dramas are focusing on the Korean War partly because the island of Taiwan and some countries such as the US bringing the issue of national reunification to the forefront for many Chinese audiences, Luo Luo, a Chinese film critic, told the Global Times on Tuesday.

"The feeling is similar to that during the war, so watching these movies and TV series can express current patriotic feelings," Luo said.

Shi Wenxue, a culture critic based in Beijing, agreed with Luo and noted that Korean War movies can help tell people today about these heroes' stories.

Both critics said that these works can popularize the Chinese People's Volunteers Army and bring these warriors closer to audiences as today's younger generations have just read their stories in books while presenting these stories on screen will be much more impressive.

On October 19, 1950, as requested by North Korea, Chinese People's Volunteer forces crossed the Yalu River on the border between China and North Korea to aid the latter's fight against US aggression until an armistice was signed in 1953. A total of 2.9 million Chinese People's Volunteer soldiers fought in the war and 197,653 of them sacrificed their lives.