Agency: “The Battle at Lake Changjin,” a government-sponsored, big-budget movie recounting a brutal battle in the Korean War, has touched a nerve for much of the public in China.
The movie depicts an against-all-odds defeat of the U.S., and it came out on the eve of China’s annual October holiday, known as Golden Week.
As a barometer of Chinese politics and culture, it’s a movie that captures the moment: aggrieved, defiant and jingoistic, a lavishly choreographed call to arms at a time of global crisis and tense relations with the world, especially with the U.S.
The villains are American soldiers and commanders, including a reasonable impersonation of Gen. Douglas MacArthur. The heroes are the Chinese “volunteers” hurled against what was then viewed as the world’s most invincible army.
On Friday, its second day in cinemas, it broke China’s single-day box office record, raking in more than $60 million. By Tuesday, it had grossed more than $360 million, putting it on track to be among the most successful Chinese films ever made.
It did so despite mixed reviews, a running time of 2 hours 56 minutes, and technical errors on military history.
The battle, better known in the U.S. as the Battle of Chosin Reservoir, drove the Americans and their allies out of North Korea in the winter of 1950, setting the stage for the stalemate that ended with a cease-fire three years later.