"Heroes" or Victory of Chinese Propaganda Cinema

“Heroes” or Victory of Chinese Propaganda Cinema

The huge success of 2021, this Chinese epic with a huge budget re-iterates the battles of the past, but says a lot about China today. A warrior show prepared by the Communist Party of China to be found on DVD and VOD.

By the last week of 2021 (and until the arrival of) Spider-Man: No Way Home), The most profitable film in theaters was Chinese, even without being distributed in the West: Heroes – Battle at Changjin Lake. It narrates another feat of a military nature: the extraterrestrial conflict of volunteers of the People’s Army of China with their comrades from North Korea, to stop the advance of General MacArthur’s American troops in the Korean peninsula. More precisely Changjin Lake area, mountainous and cold in this winter of 1950.

Commissioned by the Communist Party of China as part of its centenary celebrations, this blockbuster aims to uphold the patriotic spirit of the entire nation for three hours of a warrior, pyrotechnics and gore show. His linguism can therefore be compared to Hollywood films, satirical, but sometimes devilishly brilliant (top Gun, by Tony Scott) or Soviet (Alexander Nevsky, by Sergei Eisenstein). In China, in addition, heroes Claims to be part of a long line of blockbusters with vigorous revisionism.

“Heroes, the Battle at Lake Changjin” by Chen Kage, Dante Lam and Tsui Hark (2021).

Alibaba Pictures/August 1 Film Studio/Beijing Dengfeng International Culture Communications Company/Bona Film Group/China Film Group Corporation (CFGC)/Huaxia Film Distribution/Shanghai Film Group

However, despite the budget compared to Marvel’s, its digital effects are often apprehensive, with some pieces of bravery to prevent them from being the necessary effects. His music is sometimes sloppy and his editing unreadable. One thinks of the cinema of Michael Bay or Roland Emmerich (a time which is projected to realize heroes) Despite our excesses (because?) we deserve the presence of a slender Mao, yet not brash and concerned about human harm. Or a parallel cut in which GIs gorge themselves on a roast turkey in their fortified camp, while Chinese soldiers in the frozen mountains a few hundred meters away break their teeth on rare potatoes like Pierre’s.

blind nationalism

heroes is co-directed by three filmmakers, whose respective works are unknown. chain cage (farewell my concubine) was probably in charge of setting up the story, which presents the members of a Chinese battalion heading for Korea: the wise commander, the sharp novice, the gruesome veteran, the father who always has a picture of his daughter in his hand, etc. The other two directors are more likely to devote themselves to combat: Dante Lamm, a crusader film specialist who oversees video games. call of dutyand Tsui Harko (once Upon a Time in China) Whose style we feel we recognize in the jagged and delicate clash of two tanks on the side of a hill. We cannot reproach this trio for not respecting ideological specifics: it is hardly possible to distinguish a soldier or a Korean flag, whether they are from the North or the South, and all Chinese infantrymen are morally superior to the Yankees. So actors do what they can. They squabble about a terrible bureaucratic rigidity in Mandarin dialogue, or attempt a questionable joke at the notion of self-criticism.

Never mind, the Chinese audience brought tears to their eyes seeing the sacrifices of their elders on screen. As a tribute, the youngest children are now filming themselves on social networks eating frozen potatoes. The production of the film (promoting blind nationalism) may have confused the reasons why the public came to see it in theaters (interest in Chinese history). success of heroes It is also a reflection of current geopolitics. In the context of rising tensions between China and the United States, enthusiasm for the Hollywood legend is waning in Xi Jinping’s country, which now attracts the attention of the local public by producing its own blockbusters and airing them primarily in its cinemas. likes to do. Only.


P hero, by Chen Cage, Dante Lam and Tsui Hark (China, 2021), 176 min. Wild Side Video was released on DVD, Blu-ray, VOD and digital purchase on July 27.

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