The Battle at Lake Changjin Review by Jamie M MacDonald

Wu Jing delivers a heartfelt and emotional central performance in the biggest box office war movie of all time.

Qianli Wu (Wu Jing) returns home to see his parents and his younger brother Wanli Wu (Jackson Yee) in 1947 carrying the ashes of his older Brother. Qianli`s parents are pleased to see their son return. Wanli his younger brother wants to follow in his brothers footsteps and join the People`s Volunteer Army. Qianli himself just wants to leave the army build his family home for his parents, for his brother, and to live a peaceful life, he has seen too much war and death. But tensions are mounting between China and the Americans as the second phase of the Korean War is about to begin. China must answer to the American aggressive or be seen as weak to the rest of the world. MacArthur promises a quick war as his troops push through the Chinese border to enter North Korea. It takes a long time but the inevitable happens and Chairman Mao, gathers his advisers to see how the answer to the US aggression to North Korea. Qianil is called back to active duty and the People's Volunteer Army marches to Lake Chongjin in the height of winter in minus forty conditions to fight a battle on the 27th November 1950 that will shape the 20th century and be remembered for all time...

Wu Jing delivers a heartfelt and emotional central performance in the biggest box office war movie of all time. The sheer spectacle of the film, the hundreds of actor’s extras etc. Is just something else to be seen and I for one wish I could`ve experienced this on the big screen to take in the grandness of it all.  This film rests entirely on Wu Jing`s shoulders and he really does play it so well as the commander that leads his beloved 7th Company into Battle. I have been such a huge fan of Jing`s since seeing him in Tai Chi Boxer 2. He is a phenomenal action star, so talented. So, it is nice to see him in a straight acting role. I hope he continues with his success at the box office with a few more Martial Arts films. Jackson Yee is excellent as Jing`s younger brother Wanli, who is about to have his eyes opened at the harsh brutal reality that is WAR. For me the scenes between Jackson Yee and Wu Jing are the standout moments in the film. At a running time of Two Hours Fifty Five minutes the film is surprisingly well paced. The lead up to the battle keeps you hooked all the way through as you get to know and care for Wu Jing`s men. I think that the film paints a harsh reality of war on both sides and the utter waste of life that it is. Both sides lost a lot of men to the cold before` the battle even began.  They did not have the uniforms that they should have had for the cold weather and there were a lot of equipment failures due the extreme cold.

Directed by three of the best directors of all time with a wealth of films under them Tsui Hark, Dante Lam and Chen Kaige, I adore all their work but Keige`s Farewell My Concubine is up there as one of my all-time favourite films. Yep, I did run it at my work on the big screen in 35mm. I was just blown away by the film and Leslie Cheung`s acting. I thought due to so many directors involved that the film would suffer because of this, it really does not and it is an astonishing achievement that should be seen by all.

I`ll leave you with a quote from the film –

“Why do you fight this war daddy? So you and your generation don`t have to”

Trinity CineAsia presents The Battle at Lake Changjin on Blu-ray, DVD &Digital from 16th May

4 / 5 stars     

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