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Patriotism in Chinese Cinema | Video Essay


So I was watching Wolf warrior A 2015 Chinese blockbuster And I saw this It’s a deeply patriotic battle cry Like one of those you saw in Independence Day But instead of feeling proud as the Chinese My feeling was mixed But then I realized this is not a speech to raise morale This is a warning Directly to the rest of the world My earliest exposure to Chinese patriotism was in elementary school trip to the cinema The films were always educational to some degree Which is why I never understood why we watched Drunken Mmaster II It’s a 1994 Hong Kong classic It tells the fictionalized story of a Chinese folk hero Called Wong Fei-hung In the film he’s a young martial artists who uses skill to fight injustice But he’s playful attitude tends to cause more trouble It was a good time like most Jackie Chan movies But at the time, I was too young to fully understand the message behind it You see, Imperial China was once a victim of colonial exploits To oversimplify things, in the mid-1800s late Qing Dynasty British merchants smuggle large amount Opium’s in the China for sale …in exchange for highly demanded items like silks and Chinese tea This created a generation of drug addicts in China The increasingly worsened relationship between the Qing government and the British merchants …escalated into the opium war Which the British won And Hong Kong became a British colony From that point on many Western countries also exploited China More and more Chinese territories were at “leased” to Western powers as well as blatant robbery …like the burning of the old Summer Palace And there’s also Japanese invasion in World War II To this day, you can see the scars of colonialism in many Chinese cities It’s not rare to see old western building clusters standing in a middle of a Chinese city This is why Chinese patriotic films have foreign bad guys In Classics like Drunken Master II The message is revolving around a core Chinese values To never forget the shame of the nation And to endlessly improve ourselves In the film, the protagonist represented the self-perceiving image of a pre-colonial China He is strong, but he is immature He’s good at heart, but he causes trouble He has great power, but he abuses it But when faced with a national crisis He learns and uses power for what really matters This is where wolf warrior steps in the film features a renegade hero who causes trouble just like Jackie Chan He is the best of the best, just like Jackie Chan And he also faces a national crisis Which he has to use his power to solve But it’s not being punished for the mayhem he caused… His renegade actions always save the day At the end, he is always right There’s nothing for this surrogate of China to learn, to improve Going back to Drunken Master again The main villain of the film is the European business tycoon He is well-dressed, well-spoken A larger-than-life existence In wolf warrior our main [villain] is visualized with shots like this It’s grotesque, making the villain appear as a clown You know what I fight for? Money So not only does our hero learn nothing He has no need to By having the bad guy portrayed as less than human It removed the motivation for self-improvement This is why the line sound is so wrong to me It’s not a message to the Chinese people It’s warning the rest of the world. It doesn’t help improve the nation It just boast the strength of China Something this film does plenty of With economic upturn it seems China is finally stepping out of the trauma of the past century With that, an increasing amount of Chinese blockbusters features invincible characters They beat up the foreigners And nothing is learn at the end It’s easy for Chinese people to feel like we are on top of the world, But this pride had led the nation astray before The prideful Ming and Qing dynasty closed off its trade to the rest of the world multiple times And in the process, we missed out on the progress the west has made the Age of Discovery the Industrial Revolution Next thing we know the wall of China …was knocked down by cannon fire from British ships

100 Comments

  1. Gus Alcon Author

    I remember that wolf warrior was on the Australian News because the bad guys were English speakers LOL. Apparently the truth Hurts.

    Reply
  2. sebatian Author

    China felt embarrassed based on their history so naturally they want to send the message that they will NEVER fall again…intimidating their enemies.

    Reply
  3. Wang Charles Author

    There are movies just for entertainment for people enjoying it with no need to use our brain, and there are other movie to let us think. And that movie “worriers” I don’t to watch to know when I watch it my brain can take break, other wise those movie will make my IQ drop.

    Reply
  4. Joey Lock Author

    I agree with all of it except the idea that somehow pre-Colonial China was like a metaphorical strong but innocent immature child, Imperial China has been around for like 1,500 years before the European powers came along, it wasn't some kind of quiet paradise where there wasn't any internal strife it had it's own dark and very long history of conquest and interfering in other countries affairs.

    Granted you did say "perceived image" so I can imagine some Chinese people may see themselves in that light, however I'd say if anything pre-colonial Imperial China was more like a stubborn old man, unwilling to change his ways and traditions when faced with rapid progress and 'newfangled technology and gadgets' and gets left behind whilst the younger generations replace him and he can't do much about it now that its too late. Imperial China has been a power before many of those European powers were yet they still didn't learn till it was too late which does tie in with your conclusion message.

    Reply
  5. Metadragon Author

    As far as creator provincialism goes Americans do it in the lost fun way imo, poking fun at it while also meaning it. Indian movies do a great job lambasting their own patriotism but also playing it straight at the same time. The few Chinese movies I have seen are almost creepy in an uncanny way, its like the whole country is so serious that they cant make fun of themselves. Japanese media always inserts japanese characters as the main one but their stories tend to have a more international appeal. Idk just me

    Reply
  6. PROJECT DARK PHOENIX Author

    Literally EVERYONE DOES THIS
    Nations with power
    And Nations with history
    The movies of these nations are usually the most patriotic
    As a Greek I can see to many common aspects between Greek, American and Chinese movies

    Reply
  7. Manuel Barro Author

    I've seen a few it is SO cringy even though i respect it… kinda
    Wolf warrior is so stupidn xD i loved how they made the american or brit the bad guy, but the direction is so dumb

    Reply
  8. Abu Hajaar Author

    Did anyone see the movie wandering earth? Its a chinese movie about saving the earth.
    In that movie all nations work together, would it have been a hollywood movie then only america worked alone

    Reply
  9. Михаил Абдулов Author

    (I’m sure many westerners will detest this, but I could care less they will die out anyway or move to Russia like so many Germans and Brits in Russia). Over 92% of Russians said they were patriots, largest military (3.6 mil soldiers), soon third largest economy 2020-2030 ($4 trillion, 6th), fastest growing major – Germany fastest declining major), China is second most patriotic country, second largest economy (soon first), second largest military (2.1 million soldiers).

    Reply
  10. Frank deluca Author

    The Bush family started their fortune in opium trade which at the time was legal, they knew it was addictive so naturally a good business model ( sick bastards ) They did not earn their wealth with oil, that came much later as they had to do something with all the money. Stop with the Bush oil dynasty crap and do some research, btw these facts are hard to find.

    Reply
  11. Brian Son Author

    I mean what do you expect, its not only the people's and directors problem, its the censorships and the political beliefs of PRC that ruins the movies they make

    Reply
  12. NapoleonBonaparte Author

    Imperial China was not a victim of colonialism other than trade ports Europeans couldn't establish rule like in India outside these coastal cities like Hong Kong and Macao…and anyways there was no Hong Kong before the British created it.

    Reply
  13. RandomFin Author

    Sooo china is a butthurt country who is a cry baby and wants to seek revenge just like Nazi Germany, lost in WW1 and became a looser then seek revenge in WW2. Real men seek no revenge, they accept defeat and improve themselves not to get bullied anymore.

    Reply
  14. Michima Author

    Though at least the US is trying to sell a more positive way of life. Communist China is trying to sell communist dictatorship where the cadre members rule like overlords over the non-members below and get all the best benefits and jobs. They can't even buy property, only lease.

    Reply
  15. Israel Moreno Author

    The Grand Dragon 🐉 Xi-JinPing will have Hong Kong 🇭🇰 The Grand Dragon 🐉 Xi-JinPing will take Taiwan 🇹🇼 The Grand Dragon 🐉 Xi-JinPing May He love forever

    Reply
  16. Benjamin Allen Author

    Wow China is not ready to fight a ground war with the United States. They think they have a chance and with sore losers nukes will fly.
    Not trying to troll but seriously these movies have lead to mistakes like videos of grenade tossing with the Chinese Army.
    Those who through the Grenade probably watched a WW2 movie with a solder lobbing a grenade in the air and landing in the cockpit of a passing Japanese zero. Then exploding. It’s interesting they brainwash citizens so bad they have become dumber.

    Reply
  17. 张翊乔 Author

    The comments never let me down, good job westerners, criticizing our immature film industry which developed for only 40 years after the Reform and Opening, comparing it to Americans film industry which developed around early 1910, this is almost like a university student laughing at a year 6 kid for not writing good essays.

    I wonder what happened to us Chinese back during 1910? Ah yes, our country is being raped by the world, many countries tried to colonize us, our people cannot even put food on the table while the same time learning how to kiss you westerners ass to survive the day. So as I said, comparing our film industry to Hollywood is just totally fine.

    I guess we are just tired of this kind of bs, so we need to get our sense of pride back, through our own movie industry, somehow even that bothers you I guess, you just cannot live a day without laughing or judging other country.

    I am pretty politically neutral, educated in a western country since high school, I understand there is a lot of issues with our country, but no worries we are solving them faster than you can even think.

    I wonder which algorithm YouTube have has decided to put this video on my recommends,

    Oh and for those who think we sell crap to the world, the products we use back home in China are actually pretty good, driven by our huge domestic market and population, lots of competition, so since I cannot remember which year we start bring products with us when we come back from China, because we cannot trust western brands as some of them are heavily overpriced and break down as quickly as ours.

    Reply
  18. Patrick Vernon Author

    I don't think the Chinese govt is being unreasonable. The power of Chinese to resist imperialism is unity. They are enforcing unity along patriotic lines. Historically China is not a world power but a regional one which as a westerners beleive me, you Chinese don't want to be The world power if that means all the problems we have in the west. You don't want that

    Reply
  19. Karl C Author

    Look at the rape of Nanking, an event we in the west didn’t pay attention bc later japan became our “friend” against communist China. But the wholesale rape and murder? That could never be forgiven

    Reply
  20. jack smiths Author

    These Chinese movies build for money, which means trick on stupidity, the smart ones always learn, from east to west, from middle to the top, everywhere to everything. Those people who think they got nothing to learn will fall again and again.

    Reply
  21. RoboPandaX Author

    This was a great video. I watched wolf warrior while on a family vacation back to China. I speak mandarin, was born in US, but went to China multiple times. You know it puts me in this position where I don't know what side to root for xD. Outside of home and China, I need to defend against my Chinese heritage, but in China and at home, I defend the US. Its a precarious position where neither side I can agree with.

    Reply
  22. Adarsh Gupta Author

    Good analysis and conclusion that cutting yourself from rest of the world will stagnate you, also praising your own country and culture happens all around the world, how Hollywood has demonized Russia during cold war and how capitalism is better.

    Reply
  23. AlternityGM Author

    Patriotism in war movies is not uncommon. The Chinese Communist Party has given up Marxism. All they have left is nationalism so the CCP promotes nationalism in movies,
    TV, media, school almost everywhere. Loyalty to the CCP is equated with patriotism to the Motherland. But what strange is the PLA swears an oath to defend the Party not the country. The PLA is the army of the Communist Party not a national army.

    Reply
  24. TheAzureNightmare Author

    "Biggest thing China must do is make West forget about Patriotism while driving China into it fully. That way while West blames Jew for everything and carrying out Holocaust, China wins while they distracted! AHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!" – China Communist Party agenda, while infiltrating Western Society out of spite for it, and to satiate their greed.

    Reply
  25. Ronald McPaul Author

    CCP surrogates are like strong women in 2019 western films, they are boring as hell because they are perfect in every way and experience no challenge or growth. That's the comparison I'm drawing.

    Reply
  26. Yury Komarinskiy Author

    Nice review of The movie, but the content doesn't match the naming. I'd enjoy to see the more than one film review. One film can be an order of a particular person, but not the nation condition.

    Reply
  27. Onotolei Wassermann Author

    Lol, dude. Like, every american movie ever made is a threat towards entire world, like "MURRICA, FUCK YEAH!!! DRINKING BEER AND BOMBING EVERYONE FOR NOT BEING GAY!!! COMMUNISTS, YOUR GAME IS OVER, BECAUSE IT'S MURRICA, FUCK YEAH!!! BOMBING EVERYONE INTO GAY PROSTUTION OF STONE AGE!!!". Lol, dude, they even condemn Russian Victory Day Parade, for being "too much overblown". Like, it happens only one day a year, only in Moscow, while it's every day victory parade in every rural village and every school stadium of USA, with whores, bikes, trucks, jetfighters, flying dicks, etc. Like, compare who da hell was defeated by who:
    HITLER 4000000 NAZI ON EASTERN FRONT CRUSHED BY RED SPARTAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    or some NaVi of Pandora armed with dry grass against aircraft carriers.

    Clearly it's amerifags who don't learn their lesson, ever, they still proud of bullying the weak.

    So yeah, western whitegay pretending to be asian. Stay drunk on your cocain with a cock in your mouth, while PLA and Cultural Revolutioneers is about to finally ban alcohol in Greater China. USA is in chaos, people die off beer before their 30 birthday, nobody want to enlist, zero discipline among anyone, they riot only due to college parties and nights of broken glass (black lives matters), Reconquista is in full speed, KKK will regain its Confederation for the Greater Glory while americant majority will stay drugged on painkillers, weed and opioids, beating the shit out of pretty girls because vagina oppress gay rights. Long story short:
    PLA soldiers get women.
    Whiteboys don't.

    Reply
  28. Lance Vance Author

    You sponsored by Chinanese right? This movie is just telling bow great their army is. But the whole country is a corrupted piece of garbage, not even mention their army

    Reply
  29. Breeze Mi Author

    I really enjoy the video you made. And I'm Chinese. For my generation, we can see that public opinion is moving in an increasingly radical direction. The culture we are spreading to is becoming more and more Western, emphasizing the tension of individuals and interests. Rather than being humble and restrained, and the media of both sides have not tried to educate. Instead, we continue to face each other, which is very regrettable. I hope that you can allow me to forward this video to the Chinese website.

    Reply
  30. manifold d Author

    Very good essay. CCP makes sure the Chinese never forget about the wrong doings the west and the Japanese have done to them. Too bad China is only just displaying power but in reality they actually do not have any. It's an illusion. Why do I say that? Obama, Bill and Hillary Clinton sold all US weapons tech to China. Which is why all the weapons tech that China possess all looked like American knockoffs. Chinese stealth fighter isn't even stealth capable. China never invented anything since the 80s. If you doubt me, ask yourself this. What normal day to day items do you own that is invented by the Chinese? TV? Refrigerator? Microwave? Blue ray player? Name one.

    Reply
  31. Belle Cheytac Author

    Chinese are evil people who wants to destroy the world with their idiotic great leap forward movements and still worships idiots like mao

    Reply
  32. mrdrprofessorpatrick4984 Author

    Shame on China starving Venezuela, staging a coup in Honduras, tampering with elections, torturing, locking up vast amounts of their own people, using corruption to pocket public debt money. Oh wait, America did all that lol

    Reply
  33. 5h0rgunn Author

    What about Chinese WW2 movies? I've watched a few, and I've noticed they're generally highly nationalistic glorifications of the military, but rarely focus on one single, all-powerful protagonist. Instead, they broaden the lens to look at a whole group of people and how they work together to achieve a goal (or die trying, sometimes both). I'm thinking specifically of Death and Glory at Changde, Indomitable Soldiers, and another one whose title I forget that followed some company in the New 4th (Communist) Army. 800 Heroes was actually very similar in that regard, even though it's a Taiwanese production.

    It's an interesting angle to think about. I definitely picked up on the nationalism in these movies (and the fact that the Kuomintang government and flag are almost not mentioned or seen AT ALL even if the movie is about units in the NRA) but never put that much thought into what it says about Chinese society.

    Reply
  34. KaizerDraco Author

    lol are americans not patriotic?
    are germans not patriotic?

    whats wrong with chinese being patriotic?

    omfg, the chinese are rooting for chinese, what a bunch of scary ppl!! so evil!!! XD

    Reply
  35. MasterZhang Author

    "Not a speech to raise morale, but a warning to the rest of the world"
    Why can't it be both? It's a saying that dates back to the Han Dynasty after they wrecked the Huns for crossing the Great Wall one time too many, and it has a Western counterpart in the form of "nemo me impune lacessit". Both historically and within the plot of the film itself, it's fitting for the situation at hand.

    Edit: never mind old Latin mottos, I'm just going to leave this here:

    "I have made it clear that we will hunt down terrorists who threaten our country, wherever they are. That means I will not hesitate to take action against ISIL in Syria, as well as Iraq. This is a core principle of my presidency: If you threaten America, you will find no safe haven."
    Barack Obama

    "I want to reassure the American people that the full resources of the federal government are working to assist local authorities to save lives and to help the victims of these attacks. Make no mistake: The United States will hunt down and punish those responsible for these cowardly acts. "
    George W. Bush

    Reply

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