Hailed as a major new voice in Chinese cinema, Lu's first two films were small-budget productions which garnered both Chinese and international acclaim: 2002's The Missing Gun and 2004's Kekexili: Mountain Patrol. Kekexili won a Golden Rooster and a Golden Horse best picture award and Special Jury Prize at the 17th Tokyo International Film Festival.
Lu's third film, the war drama City of Life and Death, was released in April 2009 to both critical and commercial success. At the same time, however, the film's sympathetic portrayal of a Japanese soldier has aroused controversy. Lu Chuan won Achievement in Directing for the film at 3rd Asia Pacific Screen Awards and Best Director Award at 4th Asian Film Awards. The film won Best Film and Best Cinematography Awards at 57th San Sebastian Film Festival.
Annual Best Script, Taipei Golden Horse Film Festival, 2001; Best Maiden Work Award, 9th College Student Film Festival of China; Official selection for “Upstream” section of Venice International Film Festival
Golden Horse for Best Film, Special Jury Prize at the 17th Tokyo International Film Festival, Best Feature Film Golden Rooster Awards, Best Asian Film at the 25th Hong Kong Film Awards, Rajatha Chakoram for Best Director, Audience Prize, FIPRESCI Critics Prize, International Film Festival of Kerala, 2005, Best Feature Film at Banff Mountain Film Festival, 2005