High production values, a tight plot and pacy direction have all contributed to the phenomenal success of The Longest Day in Chang'an, one of the hottest TV dramas in China this summer.
"OMG the details! This is like a polished diamond, every scene was so carefully crafted," wrote a fan using the name sehyoon of the show on the Asia Fans Net forum.
Another online poster, pinkpoodle, on US-based video streaming website Viki, wrote: "Beautifully produced in all details, from settings and scenery, costumes, lighting, filming techniques with intriguing overall storylines and well-acted this high-quality action-packed series looks very promising!"
The 48-episode series, which has scored 8.6 out of 10 on Douban, a review aggregation platform for Chinese TV shows and movies, is scheduled to go on air in the next few weeks in other Asian countries, including Japan, Singapore, Malaysia, Vietnam and Brunei, according to PingWest, a marketing and media company.
Chinese TV dramas are often criticised for being excessively long, especially when compared with Japanese and Korean productions, which usually have around 20 episodes. The longest Chinese TV drama series, Daughter-in-Laws, for instance, ran for more than 3,000 episodes from 2000 to 2018.
However, The Longest Day in Chang'an - which was launched on Chinese online platform Youku on June 27 - is a lot shorter, and action-packed.
Set during emperor Tang Xuanzong's rule in China's Tang dynasty (733-755), the story unspools over a single day. It is the tale of two investigators (one a rookie, another a veteran) who save the country's then capital city, Chang'an, from a major rebellion. Each episode, therefore, accounts for 30 minutes of that momentous day.
"Love the storyline, love the pacing and the acting was pretty good, though some (scenes) probably could be directed differently," writes an Asia Fans Net user under the name dioning.
The fact the historical suspense drama is fronted by two showbiz celebrities in China has also helped sell the show. Pop idol and member of boy band TFBoys Jackson Yee plays the young investigator Li Bi, while popular actor Lei Jiayin (The Wandering Earth, 2019; How Long Will I Love U, 2018) is a former imperial army officer gone rogue.
Based on Ma Boyong's novel of the same title and directed by Cao Dun, The Longest Day in Chang'an is now set to conquer small screens in the West, according to Chinese state news agency Xinhua.
It quoted producer Liang Chao as saying overseas video platforms the Caravan channel on YouTube, Viki, and Amazon Prime are, or will be, streaming the show to paid subscribers. With new dubbing and translations, the series is expected to reach European and African markets too, it says.
The Longest Day in Chang'an joins a steady stream of Chinese TV shows that have made their way to the West in recent years. Other examples include basketball reality show Dunk of China, the foreign rights to which were bought by Fox Networks Group in the United States in October 2018, according to Shenzhen Daily.
In 2017, Netflix acquired the rights to Youku's detective thriller Day and Night, which drew more than four billion views in China in its first four months. The streaming giant also won the exclusive rights early this year to stream another Youku original online series, I Hear You, outside China, the newspaper said.
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