‘Battle at Lake Changjin’ Sets U.K., Ireland Releases

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Variety/Rebecca Davis
Trinity Cine Asia has acquired “The Battle at Lake Changjin” from Taipei-based sales firm Distribution Workshop and is set to release the war epic in the U.K. and Ireland on Nov. 19.

The film is currently the highest-grossing title in the world and in China so far in 2021, having earned $881 million in its home market alone — good news for the movie billed as China’s most expensive production of all time.

The U.K. and Ireland outings will occur in 25 cities. They will hit after the film’s Thursday’s release in Singapore, but day-and-date with North America and ahead of Australia (Dec. 2), where the movie is being distributed by China’s CMC Pictures.

“It’s a privilege for us to be able to release the biggest box office story of 2021, when cinemas are just seeing the first real shoots of recovery,” said Trinity Cine Asia co-founder and director Cedric Behrel, admitting however, that its nearly three-hour run-time has been a big ask of cinemas.

Despite its jingoistic tone and pro-Chinese Communist Party message, Behrel envisions the film triggering new discussions and debates about the Korean War.

“‘Battle at Lake Changjin’ presents a fresh viewpoint which hasn’t been seen before, reframing the war film narrative we’re used to seeing, but with production values to match Hollywood,” he said. “The film falls into the war film template of decisive battles that change the course of history. It has hit a particular nerve with Chinese audiences — maybe because most popular war films are made from a Hollywood or American perspective [such as those about] the Vietnam War.”

Distribution Workshop CEO Jeffrey Chan also noted: “Unbeknownst to many of us these days, the battle at Lake Changjin marked a historical moment still relevant to contemporary Asia and possibly the world today.”

He said his team was “excited by the Trinity team’s enthusiasm and effort in bringing this important film to cinemas in the U.K. within such a short turnaround time frame.”

“The Battle at Lake Changjin” is co-directed by three leading, acclaimed directors: Chen Kaige (“Farewell My Concubine”), Tsui Hark (“Once Upon a Time in China”) and Dante Lam (“Operation Red Sea.”).

The film is backed by Bona Film Group, August First Film Studio, Huaxia Film Distribution, China Film, Shanghai Film Group, Alibaba Pictures, and Beijing Dengfeng International Media.

Its cast is led by Jackson Yee, the star of Oscar-nominated Hong Kong youth drama “Better Days,” as well as Wu Jing, best known for his star turn in “Wolf Warrior 2.”

Behrel esteems that “Lake Changjin” will find a greater viewership than “Wolf Warrior 2.” once his firm rolls it out to on-demand and home entertainment platforms next year.

“It could attract a mix of viewers specifically interested in war films, big action pieces, or the directors’ work, giving it a broader [appeal] than ‘Wolf Warrior II.’”