It amazes me that there are still stories to be told from World War II (haven’t we covered it all yet?). I really shouldn’t be that surprised, but clearly, we’re at the point where movies are digging deep for cinematic gems. Hu Guan (Mr. Six) brings his camera to the Pacific Theater, Shanghai specifically, in his war epic, The Eight Hundred.
It’s 1937, and the Japanese are slowly taking over China. The last holdout is the city of Shanghai. As the enemy is ravaging the rest of the country, survivors seek refuge on the island section of the city, with only a single bridge connecting it to the mainland.
“…the Sihang Warehouse… would become the last defense for China against the Japanese…”
On the mainland side of the bridge is the Sihang Warehouse. It’s your standard warehouse—multi-floored and rather large. It becomes the last defense for China against the Japanese. With the Chinese army decimated, all surviving soldiers retreat to the warehouse and defend Shanghai from inside this single structure. The number of remaining troops is … you guessed it, eight hundred.
These eight hundred are charged to sacrifice their lives to stave off the Japanese with zero hope of reinforcement. Essentially, the men have three days to survive before the Japanese all but give up out of frustration…and there’s your drama.
The story of The Eight Hundred is told from three fronts. For war buffs, you have the military leaders planning, developing tactics, and motivating their disheartened soldiers through this final battle. The Japanese army is enormous and “underdog” is an understatement. The Chinese defenders are short on supplies, but abundant in patriotism and loyalty to family and their people.
"…Epic is an excellent term to describe The Eight Hundred."