Korean War films ignite moviegoers’ patriotism in Chinese New Year
Published: Feb 04, 2022 07:26 PM
The Battle at Lake Changjin II and Snipers Photo:VCG

The Battle at Lake Changjin II and Snipers Photo:VCG

Chinese audience's patriotic sentiments and ode to the heroic spirit of the War to Resist US Aggression and Aid Korea (1950-53) reached a peak after two war epics — The Battle at Lake Changjin II and Snipers — hit theaters during the lucrative Chinese New Year period.

As of Friday afternoon, the total box office for the film season had reached 4.24 billion yuan ($ 667 million). The Battle at Lake Changjin II, also known as Watergate Bridge, has kept atop of the list by grossing 1.84 billion yuan, which is over 200 million yuan than the box office of The Battle at Lake Changjin on their fourth screening days, according to Chinese ticketing platform Maoyan.

The "effect of Changjinhu" seems to have continued from the first film released in October 2021 until the 2022 Chinese New Year as many Chinese moviegoers took to social media to share the moments that touched them most after watching Watergate Bridge.

"The blizzard on the battlefield was so big that the Chinese People's Volunteers could not walk, the enemy's planes covered the sky, and the blasting of tons of artillery lit up the night sky. This scene made me tremble from outside the screen," one Chinese netizen commented on Sina Weibo.

"1950 was also the Year of the Tiger… At that time, the Chinese People's Volunteers crossed the Yalu River to resist US aggression and aid Korea. We won victory and brought decades of peaceful development. After 72 years, the seventh year of the Tiger in New China is coming. In such a special year, we should remember this great victory even more, and the younger generation should know their happy life today is hard to come by," Bona Film Group CEO Yu Dong told the Global Times in an exclusive interview.

Adapted from real historical events, Watergate Bridge tells the story of Chinese People's Volunteer soldiers bombing the Watergate Bridge in battle with US troops.

Shi Wenxue, a film critic based in Beijing told the Global Times that the scale of the two sequels is very different: The Battle at Lake Changjin is more macro, and involves a multi-arm joint operation, whereas Watergate Bridge is a small-scale and single-task operation, and many plots show individual combat and small company coordination.

"There are two places that impress me the most: One is the red scarf fluttering on the dead trees in the snow-capped mountains, and the other is that there is only one soldier who survived from the whole military team. It is the fearless sacrifice of the revolutionary martyrs that brought about today's prosperous China," he said. 

Although the other same themed film, Snipers, directed by the well-known director Zhang Yimou and his daughter Zhang Mo, did not perform very well in the box office (currently grossing 145 million yuan), it has earned the highest review score (7.7/10) among the seven other films released during Chinese New Year, according to reviewing website Douban. 

"It can be said that Snipers is a biography for every unsung hero from the War to Resist US Aggression and Aid Korea. The film did not deliberately belittle the opponent, and confrontations between the two sides truly became a confrontation between fighters, rather than a general battlefield confrontation. By digging deeper into the details of the characters, we can restore the cruelty of the battlefield. We Chinese cannot forget this history," one film critic commended on Douban.