Author: WILL GLASGOW
29-year-old New Zealand actress Augusta Xu-Holland stars in The Eight Hundred (Ba Bai).

This week, when the People's Liberation Army launched four medium-range missiles off the south coast of China, Chinese cinemas were crowded with people watching a new film about the horrors of war.

This is China's first blockbuster movie since the COVID epidemic: director Guan Hu's tragic war epic "Eight Hundred", the box office has exceeded 2.4 million Australian dollars in the first week.

This two-hour and 27-minute film full of bloody scenes tells of a desperate battle between the Kuomintang army and the Imperial Japanese army, which made 24-year-old Li Yan (Li Yan) and other audiences watching with masks Tearing up.

"I can't help crying," Ms. Li, a consultant for an auditing company, told The Weekend Australian after the screening at the Huaxing Cinema in Beijing. "We hope that everyone in the world will never encounter war, including the Japanese people. We must not forget history and seek revenge. Let us live in peace."

The commercial success of "Yabai" has given a boost to the Chinese film industry, which is the last industry in the world's second largest economy to reopen since the outbreak of the new crown virus in late January.

Like all movies released in China, this film has been carefully reviewed by the powerful National Propaganda Department. The film also shows a clear departure from the 2017 movie "Wolf Warrior 2", which is the highest-grossing movie in China's history, with an unforgettable slogan: "Those who violate me China will be punishable even if they are far away."

It is reported that the cancellation of the third part of the "Wolf Warriors" series was because the government did not want to "make China show aggressive films."

Guan Hu’s new film is set in Shanghai in 1937. The film humanizes the dying soldiers into fathers, sons and brothers, including a Japanese soldier in one scene.

"They are real flesh and blood people with real fear and bravery," said Ms. Li's boyfriend, Zhao Liwei, a 28-year-old IT engineer.

Augusta Xu-Holland poses for a picture in front of a sign advertising The Eight Hundred.

The film also specifically conveys the message of the national reconstruction plan, incorporating the official history of the country’s suffering and the need for national strength.

In the end, the Chinese Kuomintang Major General Xie Jinyuan (played by Du Chun) gave an inspiring speech to his troops, and most of them were shot dead by the Japanese.

"Indeed, we lost this battle. But why? Because our country is sick!" Major General Xie lamented that the Western powers refused to protect China. "Just let other people bully us like this!" He continued. Later he was tragically shot in the film and died heroically. (Actually, Xie survived the warehouse siege, but was later assassinated by pro-Japanese Chinese traitors in the British concession in Shanghai. Such messy details are unlikely to pass Chinese censorship.)

The film ends with the transition from war-torn Shanghai to its gleaming modern skyscrapers. Earlier, Major General Xie told a child soldier: "When you grow up, you will be able to see this country get better."

The State Supervision Commission of the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection-a powerful institution known for its anti-corruption campaign-must have given an unusual move to the release version of this film. The committee said in a rare film review: "The tragedy of this lone army is the sadness of the weak and small China. Fortunately, China is no longer the China of the year."

The version is being shown nationwide in China-and it was shown in Australian cinemas on Thursday-which is 13 minutes shorter than the original version. The deleted part is still a mystery. But there is no doubt that this is a big box office success.

The ticket seller at Huaxing Cinema told The Weekend Australian: “Since the pandemic began, cinemas have never been so full.”

Last week, this movie accounted for more than 70,000% of the screens of nearly 60 Chinese movies. Some people called this movie the Chinese version of "Saving Private Lane"-one of the most favorite Hollywood movies of China’s top leaders. One.

In movie theaters in China, two seats must be separated from one person to another, and all members wear masks.

One of the film’s stars, Augusta Xu-Holland, told The Weekend Australian that after the new crown virus is brought under control, the Chinese entertainment industry is “competing to complete their projects”. According to the plan before COVID-19, she will now be filming in Melbourne. "But, you know, 2020!" she said.

Among them are busy working on the director Guan Hu of "Eight Hundred". A new film he is shooting in Northeast China is about the Korean War or "Resisting US Aggression and Aid Korea"-depending on who writes this history.