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The biggest-budgeted Chinese film ever made is heading to the 2021 Cannes Marche du Film.
Bona Film Group’s Korean War epic The Battle at Lake Changjin, co-directed by A-list Chinese filmmakers Chen Kaige, Hark Tsui and Dante Lam with a production budget of $200 million, will make its market debut on the Croisette with Taipei-based Distribution Workshop handling worldwide sales.
The project is notable both for its enormous $200 million budget — considerably more than recent Hollywood war epics like Sam Mendes’ 1917 ($95 million) and Christopher Nolan’s Dunkirk ($150 million), and even more impressive given how far production dollars tend to stretch in Beijing’s un-unionized film industry — and for the rare collaboration behind the camera of three of China’s most in-demand directors.
The Battle at Lake Changjin also stars China’s most bankable leading man, Wu Jing, star of Wolf Warrior 2 (2017), which remains the biggest Chinese film in box office history with $867 million from a single market. Wu also starred in The Wandering Earth, China’s first full-scale sci-fi blockbuster ($700 million).
Twenty-year-old rising star Jackson Yee, the breakout lead of the Oscar nominated Better Days ($230 million) and A Little Red Flower ($216 million), co-stars alongside Wu. Duan Yihong (The Looming Storm, Extraordinary Mission) also joins in a special appearance.
A gritty battlefield actioner, the project is in keeping with the nationalistic tone of recent tentpole Chinese filmmaking. The film glorifies Chinese sacrifices and heroism during the real-life, 1950 Battle at Lake Changjin during the Korean War (or “the War to Resist U.S. Aggression and Aid Korea,” as it is known in China). A crucial victory for the Chinese side, the historic battle saw the PLA overcome long odds to successfully blow up the Shuimen Bridge and push U.S. military forces into retreat.
The project is said to be in post-production, having completed principle photography earlier this year. Distribution Workshop says the film is eying a Chinese theatrical release in the fourth quarter of 2021.
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