Mega hit Chinese film The Battle at Lake Changjin set for a sequel after all-time box office run

A handout photo. The team behind the hit film The Battle at Lake Changjin announced that the movie will be getting a sequel in the future.
PHOTO: South China Morning Post

Producers behind The Battle at Lake Changjin, a nationalistic war movie in China that has been very successful at the box office, announced on Thursday (Nov 4) that the film would be getting a sequel.

The next movie is likely to be named Water Gate Bridge and will continue the story of Chinese soldiers fighting amid extreme weather at Lake Changjin, which were crucial moments during the Battle of Chosin Reservoir in 1950.

The Battle of Chosin Reservoir was a key turning point during the Korean war. An offensive, primarily driven by Chinese soldiers and supplies, forced the X Corps, of the US military, out of North Korea in the dead of winter.

A handout photo. The Battle at Lake Changjin is already the third highest grossing mainland movie of all time. 
PHOTO: South China Morning Post

The Korean war is called “the war to resist US aggression and aid Korea” in China and is a source of national pride.

The movie’s success was driven by widespread patriotic sentiment, including a line of propaganda that has become famous. It said: “We have to fight this war. Otherwise, our next generations will have to”.

The Battle at Lake Changjin, which is still showing in theatres, has made 5.39 billion yuan (S$1.1 billion). Those box office numbers make it the third-highest-grossing Chinese movie of all time, after Wolf Warrior 2 and Hi, Mom.

However, the reviews were mixed, despite the film’s huge commercial success.

Its rating on the movie review platform Douban was an unimpressive 7.4 out of 10. Many complained about The Battle at Lake Changjin ’s length, at 2 hours and 50 minutes, and said it was full of action and patriotism but lacked character depth.

“The heroes, as always, did not have any doubt on the war. The war, as always, did not cause any mental damage to the heroes,” wrote one viewer.

Water Gate Bridge will retain much of the team behind the original, including keeping the strategy of having the movie be jointly directed by Chen Kaige, Hark Tsui, and Dante Lam.

Wu Jing, who became a star in the Wolf Warrior films, and young super idol Jackson Yee are also expected to return for the movie.

Most scenes for the sequel were shot at the beginning of 2021, and the actors will gather this coming winter to finish the rest, according to China News Service.

Criticising the nationalistic movie landed journalist Luo Changping in detention earlier this month.

He commented online that Chinese people seldom reflected on the justice of this war. He said the troops who died in the actual battle were “stupid”, which authorities said was “defaming historic martyrs”, a crime in China.

This article was first published in South China Morning Post.