The Opium War (1997)
"Yapian zhanzheng" (original title)

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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... See full summary »



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Credited cast:
Guoan Bao ...
Debra Beaumont ...
Rob Freeman ...
Emma Griffiths Malin ...
Mary Denton
Jiang Hua ...
Guan Tianpei
Captain White
Hsiang Ting Ko ...
Yi Shan
Shilong Li ...
Han Zhaoqing
Weixin Li ...
Deng Tingzhen
Liankun Lin ...
Qi Shan
Sihung Lung ...
He Jingrong (as Xiong Lang)


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. Written by Marco Radke <>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Drama | History | War


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Release Date:

13 June 1997 (Hong Kong)  »

Also Known As:

The Opium War  »

Filming Locations:


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Technical Specs


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Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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User Reviews

It would be extremely racist and foolish to label the film as...
21 November 2003 | by See all my reviews

...nationlistic anti-western propaganda.

This is a subject that BBC would not have guts to face, at least not in the near future. Before labeling this film as anti-western communist propaganda, one must first bravely face the ugly past of colonialism and the racism of today: Not only UK has yet to face acknowledge its crime in the colonial era openly and without any reservation, what taught and belived in UK, and as in many in the west, are still represented by obvious racism:

For example, many in the west still believe in the racist lie of Opium being used in China as medicine for thousands of years. The reality is that marijuana was used in China for thousand of years, not opium, which was introduced by British by force. Next time when you visit Washington, DC, make sure you visit the museum of DEA, where this part of the true history is honestly told. This is one area Brits has to learn from USA.

Another example of current day racism is that when describing the ugly past of colonial era, the British still calls the Opium War as Trade War, when everywhere else it is honestly called as Opium War, as it really was. This is the equivalent of a drug dealer forcing to sell drugs to people, and assaulted people when they refused, and then simply called the assault was a trade disagreement. Imagine what would happen if the drug dealer was white and the people were black in the current world, and the public reaction.

Enough said about British side, now about the Chinese side: unlike the previous nationalistic propaganda, which glorified the victimization by demonizing west, this film factually told the cause of the war in a sympathetic way, and for the first time, correctly criticized the corrupted Imperial Chinese political system and its corrupted officials, which lead to the backwardness of China.

The example would be the lavish living style of emperor and his court officials in comparison to the impoverished life style of ordinary Chinese citizens, which is the reflection of corrupted feudalistic system being defeated by much more advanced modern industrial capitalism. One must see the typical nationalistic propaganda made decades earlier and compare to this movie in order to appreciate the giant steps made here, which may not be something big for west, but it is something considerable for workers in the movie industry in a totalitarian regime.

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