Opium War (Yapian zhanzheng)

Historical Drama starting in 1839 in Guangzhou where British merchants dealing with opium are to be executed because the opium is destroying the Empire. After the burning of 20,000 boxes of opium by the Chinese England declares war, because the burned opium was the property of the British commercial attache who had bought it from the British merchants. (IMDB)
Year Released
Emei Film Studio
Average: 4 (1 vote)


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Informative, but a little difficult to follow

Field of Interest/Specialty: Social Studies
Posted On: 11/29/2016

I originally picked to watch this film because I had heard of the Opium War, but really had very little knowledge of what actually happened. The film does a good job illustrating why the the trade of opium was detrimental to the country and why the British were intent to keep the trade going. Following the fighting, the film then helps illustrate how the English did gain control of Hong Kong, the effects of which can still be seen today. Overall The Opium War does a great job when it comes to helping students visualize how certain events took place or how they impacted each other, albeit in a dramatic fashion.
The one critique I would personally have of this film is that the subtitles don't match up with when some of the characters speak. This could be a problem for some students, as even I had some issues about who was saying what.
Potential uses of this film would be for a high school World History/Cultures class. It would be difficult to keep the attention of students younger than this age group. While The Opium War could be used to illustrate the historical events, it could also be used in an activity on bias. In doing some research on this film, there were some criticisms that since the Chinese government funded the film, incidentally around the time that the United Kingdom gave control of Hong Kong back to China, there were definitely some strong bias that made the Chinese government look more like the champion of the people whereas England was the villain. While there are aspects of the history that are accurate, it could be used as a good comparison of how the government uses the media to promote a better message for itself.