Chinese box office records are shattered by a nationalistic war film.
According to box office records, a nationalistic movie set during the Korean War has grossed hundreds of millions of dollars, making it China’s highest-grossing film ever.
The chest-thumping military epic “The Battle at Changjin Lake” is the latest in a new era of Chinese action films with clearly nationalistic themes that reflect rising levels of home nationalism.
The authorities have reacted harshly to criticism of the film’s theme, which depicts the titular fight as a total win for Chinese soldiers, including the detention of a high-profile former journalist.
However, the picture, which was released on the eve of China’s major October public holiday, was a hit with viewers, breaking the previous box office record of 5.6 billion yuan ($891 million) in ticket sales, according to ticketing platform Maoyan.
The film shows a pivotal battle in winter 1950, in which Chinese fighters pushed US-led UN troops to flee North Korea while battling in bitter cold.
The conflict has been depicted by Chinese media as a complete triumph that is required to prevent the US from taking North Korea.
The Chinese team’s significant losses are hardly acknowledged.
Luo Changping, a former editor of Caijing magazine who has built a reputation for exposing official wrongdoing, questioned the justification for sending troops to fight in such harsh conditions just days after the film was published.
“Half a century later, Chinese people have hardly pondered the war’s justification,” he wrote on the internet.
Luo’s Weibo account, which has two million followers, was taken down after the message was banned.
He was arrested by authorities for “infringing on the reputation and honor of heroes and martyrs,” and if convicted under the 2018 law, which makes slandering revolutionary war heroes and modern-day troops illegal, he faces up to three years in prison.
“The Battle of Changjin Lake” isn’t the first nationalistic blockbuster to be a box office success.
The “Wolf Warrior” franchise, in which a swashbuckling Chinese soldier battles foreign mercenaries, is credited with launching a new generation of nationalistic action movies.
Only 34 international films are allowed to be released in China each year, making domestic production the great bulk of films shown there.