City of Life and Death takes place in 1937, during the height of the Second Sino-Japanese War. The Imperial Japanese Army has just captured the then-capital of the Republic of China, Nanjing. What followed was known as the Nanking Massacre, or the Rape of Nanking, a period of several weeks wherein tens of thousands of Chinese soldiers and civilians were killed.
Huo Yuan Jia became the most famous martial arts fighter in all of China at the turn of the 20th Century. Huo faced personal tragedy but ultimately fought his way out of darkness, defining the true spirit of martial arts and also inspiring his nation. The son of a great fighter who didn’t wish for his child to follow in his footsteps, Huo resolves to teach himself how to fight – and win.