City of Life and Death is the third feature film directed by Lu Chuan. The film is also known as it's Chinese release title: Nanking! Nanking! (or Nanjing! Nanjing!).
The film deals with the Battle of Nanjing and its aftermath during the Second Sino-Japanese War. City of Life and Death takes place in 1937 during the Imperial Japanese Army's capture of the then-capital of China, Nanjing. the capture of the capital and the ensuing bloodshed is known as the Nanking Massacre, or the Rape of Nanking; a period of several weeks when tens of thousands of Chinese soldiers and civilians were killed. The film tells the story of several figures, both historical and fictional, including a Chinese soldier, a school teacher, a Japanese soldier, a foreign missionary, and John Rabe, a Nazi businessman who would ultimately save thousands of Chinese civilians.