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World War II action dramas about Chinese people bravely suffering under the brutality of Japanese soldiers are regular fare in mainland Chinese cinema. They serve to sell popcorn and promote a particular nationalist agenda. While Death and Glory in Change serves both those purposes adequately, if you are expecting a straight propaganda piece you may be disappointed. While hints of nationalism are not hard to find, this movie is more about the story of the Chinese soldiers who bravely defended the city and less about characterizing the Japanese as demon invaders. The action is well produced and the characters are somewhat compelling, even if one-dimensional. For those hoping for a history lesson, this movie does appear to stick to the basic facts, but is clearly not meant to educate the audience about the complexities of the situation. The Nationalist army attempted to defend the city from Japanese invaders and few survived. This movie does go into a little more detail, but it simply isn't the film-makers' intention to delve deep into the story.
Death and Glory in Changde is about action, which it does well, and emotion, which it does less well. If you are totally unfamiliar with this part of history then you'll probably learn a thing or two and be mildly entertained for an hour and a half.
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