The events leading up to Great Britain's take-over of Hong Kong provide the basis of this epic Chinese historical drama that distinguishes itself from similarly themed films by presenting a relatively balanced view of each side's position during the war, though China ends up looking a little better in the end. The conflict began in 1838 during the Qing Dynasty when British traders were selling mass quantities of opium to the population, thereby rendering them weak and malleable. The royal court assigns viceroy Lin Zexu the task of negotiating with the East India, Co. traders. Denton is the primary offender and the undiplomatic Lin promptly imprisons him. To help Denton, Charles Elliot, a foreign trade representative, is dispatched. Elliot solves the problem by having tons of opium poured into the sea while guaranteeing the British government will refund the trader's money. When the political leaders back in London learn of his rash action, they angrily send troops to attack China. In this way the complex struggle begins.
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