War Movie : Death and Glory in Changde

Chinese War Film

Death and Glory in Changde is a 2010 Chinese war film based on the events in the Battle of Changde in 1943 during the Second Sino-Japanese War. The Chinese title of the film literally means “bloodbath, isolated city”.

n October 1943, during the Second Sino-Japanese War, the Imperial Japanese Army approaches Changde from Shashi and Yueyang by crossing the Yangtze and Xiang rivers, and surrounds the Chinese city. Yu Chengwan, a division commander in the Chinese National Revolutionary Army, and his men have received orders to defend Changde to the death. Most of Changde’s civilian population have evacuated, leaving behind Yu and his troops to defend the isolated city.

Feng Baohua, a company commander in the division, allows Erhu, a Miao youth, to join his company. Erhu, who turns out to be an excellent sharpshooter, looks up to Feng as a role model. The Chinese forces fight bravely on the frontline, holding off wave after wave of Japanese troops outside Changde until all the external defences have fallen. They retreat into the city and continue to prevent the invaders from advancing beyond the gates. By then, the defenders are already running low on ammunition and supplies but they continue to put up fierce resistance, to the point of secretly salvaging unexpended rounds from the bodies of dead soldiers at night. Feng’s fiancee, a singer called Wanqing, is determined to accompany him, so she becomes a nurse and helps to attend to the wounded. Feng and Wanqing are married and they spend one night together.

Changde eventually falls when the Japanese commander Yokoyama Isamu, acting under pressure from his superiors, reluctantly approves the use of chemical and biological weapons against the Chinese forces. As the defenders retreat further into the city, fierce fighting takes place in the streets and alleys. Erhu’s elder sister is killed by a Japanese soldier who breaks into their house. In one skirmish, Feng is shot and mortally injured when he tries to use a bundle of explosives to kill a Japanese machine gunner in a concealed position. He succeeds in his attempt but dies in the ensuing blast. In the meantime, the Japanese have captured the Chinese medical officer and the wounded Chinese soldiers and made them line up near the city gate while handing out a Japanese flag to each of them. The Japanese attempt to record these “scenes of victory” on camera, but eventually have all the prisoners gunned down when they refuse to play along with their captors.

Yu Chengwan writes a farewell letter to his wife before donning his battlegear and joining his surviving men as they fight their way out of Changde. Off screen, it is stated that only 83 of the 8,000 defenders survived. The Chinese defeated the Japanese and retook Changde a few days later. Yu was court-martialled for abandoning his post at Changde and was sentenced to two years imprisonment, but was acquitted and released after spending four months in prison

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