Oscars: Hong Kong Selects 'Operation Red Sea' for Foreign-Language Category

Operation Red Sea Still - Publicity - Embed 2018
Courtesy of Well Go USA Entertainment

The homegrown military drama Operation Red Sea will compete in the fest’s main competition.

The military drama, directed by Hong Kong helmer Dante Lam with a predominantly Chinese cast, was the second highest grossing film of all time in China, but only took $1.1 million in Hong Kong.

The blockbuster in Mainland China, Operation Red Sea, has been selected to represent Hong Kong in the Best Foreign Language Film category at the 91st Academy Awards, the Federation of Motion Film Producers Hong Kong announced.

Directed by Hong Kong helmer Dante Lam, Operation Red Sea leaped to the top of the Chinese box office when it opened in February 2018 to become the second highest grossing film of all time in China with $579.2 million. It faced a decidedly lukewarm reception in Hong Kong, though, and saw a disproportionately weaker performance of taking only $1.1 million in the special administrative region during a two-month run.

Produced by China's Bona Film Group, Film Fireworks and Star Dream Studio Media, the film was also backed by one Hong Kong studio, Emperor Motion Pictures.

The film's cast also just one Hong Kong actor, Simon Yam, in a lead role.

Centered on the evacuation of Chinese nationals during the 2015 Yemeni civil war, the military drama was seen as a companion piece to the 2016 actioner Operation Mekong, also by Lam. Operation Red Sea was made with the assistance of the Chinese navy, and was presented to celebrate the 90th anniversary of the founding of the Chinese People's Liberation Army and the Chinese Communist Party's 19th National Congress.

Director Lam's work has previously been chosen to represent Hong Kong as a Oscar contender. His cycling drama, To the Fore, was the Hong Kong selection in 2015.