China and Inner Asia
Organized Panel Session
The commercial success of The Taking of Tiger Mountain (2014), Wolf Warrior 2 (2017) and Operation Red Sea (2018) reveals the enormous popularity these types of military blockbuster films have enjoyed in China. This new wave of military action flicks not only favors brutal depiction of the savagery of war, but also contributes significantly to the construction of the social and national imaginaries in contemporary China. In fact, throughout China’s rise, the government has recognized the potential in using effective popular media for disseminating its own messages. From this point of view, one of the central advantages of military action films are their appeal to a broad range of viewers. This paper will begin by explaining the nature of military blockbuster films in China, their vicissitudes as a phenomenon and as a medium, and how their fortunes were linked with various other developments of Chinese modernity---the cultural, technological, economic and political. Then it will address the ways in which these military action flicks produce significant social space, specifically the space of nationalism, and will explore the connections between this production of space and the social imaginary and consumption. It will elucidate the ways that the fantasy space produced by this specific film genre has been recently used to construct and maintain “an assertive superpower” imaginary capable of reaching a range of media consumers in both urban and rural areas, in China and in foreign countries.