Hot Movie: 战国 (Zhànguó) The Warring States (Intermediate)

Key Learning Points (Preview):
围 (wéi): v. to besiege

救 (jiù): v. to rescue

待 (dài): v. to wait

The blockbuster war movie The Warring States was released in theaters simultaneously in China and North America on Apr. 12th, 2011. This movie focuses on narrating the struggles among the seven most powerful states in China during the Warring States Age. It has quickly gained popularity. It has magnificent battlefield scenes, excellent military strategy and romantic story lines.

The movie centers on three historical stories: 围魏救赵 (wéi Wèi jiù Zhào), 以逸待劳 (yǐ yì dài láo), 田忌赛马 (Tiánjì sài mǎ).
“围魏救赵” presents the famous war among the Qi, Wei and Zhao states during the Warring States period. In 354 B.C., Wei attacked Zhao. In order to relieve Zhao, the Qi general, 孙膑 (Sūn Bìn), led his army to “包围 (bāowéi) besiege” the capital of Wei. Thus, the Wei troops were forced to withdraw from their battle with Zhao in order to protect their own city, and the Zhao were rescued. This idiom means, “to ‘救 (jiù) rescue’ the besieged by besieging the base of the besiegers.”Later, people came to use this idiom to indicate the process of solving a problem at the root.
The idiom “以逸待劳” comes from the war between Qi and Wei. It means not to attack one’s enemy immediately, but to “等待 (děngdài) wait” somewhere until the enemy is tired out. Then, seize a good opportunity to ambush your opponent.
“田忌赛马” is the intriguing story of how the General of Qi 田忌 won a horse race with the Master of the state of Qi with the help of Sun Bin. The moral of this story is that transformation is sometimes necessary to solve a problem.
Through these three stories, the audience can appreciate the depth of Chinese classical culture while being entertained.
Culture notes forlearning Mandarin:
The Spring and Autumn period (770 B.C~475 B.C.) & The Warring States Age: (475 B.C~211 B.C): During those periods, China was divided into many small states; among them, the seven most powerful states were: 齐 (Qí), 楚 (Chǔ), 燕 (Yān), 韩 (Hán), 赵 (Zhào), 魏 (Wèi), and 秦 (Qín).
孙膑 (Sūn Bìn): One of the most brilliant military strategists in The Warring States Age and a descendant of Sun Tzu. His masterpiece, “《孙膑兵法》(Sūn Bìn Bīngfǎ) The Art of War by Sun Bing,” is of great importance in Chinese military history.

Key Learning Points:

(wéi): v. to besiege

In modern Chinese, we often use the phrase “包围 (bāowéi)” instead of “围.”


Jǐngchá bāowéi le zhěng dòng dàlóu.
警察      包围    了 整       栋     大楼。

The police besieged the whole building.
(jiù): v. to rescue


Jǐngchá jiù le bèi bǎngjià de xiǎohái.
警察       救了被   绑架    的    小孩。

The police rescued the children that had been captured.
(dài): v. to wait

Now we often use”等待 (děngdài)” or “等 (děng)” instead of “待.”

Qǐng nín shāoděng yíhuìr.
请     您    稍等      一会儿。

Please wait for a moment.
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2 thoughts on “Hot Movie: 战国 (Zhànguó) The Warring States (Intermediate)”

  1. 2. “被” is a structural auxiliary word in Chinese. It is used to indicate the passive voice.
    For example:
    Huā píng bèi dǎsuì le.
    The vase was broken

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