Cast: Guoan Bao: Lin Zexu Debra Beaumont: Queen Victoria Rob Freeman: Hill Xiangting Ge: Yi Shan Emma Griffiths Malin: Mary Denton Garrick Hagon: Missionary Shao Hsin: Shanzhi
Plot / Synopsis
The Opium War, directed by 74-year-old Chinese director Xie Jin, was released in Beijing on July 1, 1997, set to coincide with the transfer of Hong Kong from Britain back to China. Xie Jin described the film as a "special gift for the motherland and the people ... to ensure we and our descendants forever remember the humiliation the nation once suffered."
This film follows the historical events leading up to the infamous Treaty of Nanjing that gave control of Hong Kong to the British in 1842. Lin Zexu, a high official in the Emperor's court, is sent to Guangdong Province to stamp out drug trafficking. His vigorous enforcement of the law, including the arrest of British subjects, leads to a retaliatory attack by British soldiers on the city of Tianjin. The attack succeeds in its purpose, frightening the Qing Emperor into submission.
This film, produced in 1997 with a budget exceeding $10 million, ranks as the most expensive film ever to come out of a Chinese studio. Great attention was paid to ensure that the sets and costumes give the audience a feel for the historical era as it really was.