All in a day's work
BY wangxingwei from 21st Century
Published 2019-07-17
Young actor Yi Yangqianxi plays protagonist Li Bi.[Photo provided to China Daily]

It is the Lantern Festival, a time when people take to the streets at night to celebrate. But, as the capital faces an imminent enemy attack, the entire city depends on a criminal on death row to save the day.

This is the plot of the current hit thriller series The Longest Day in Chang'an, which stars young singer-actor Yi Yangqianxi, actor Lei Jiayin and Beninese-American actor Djimon Hounsou.

Set in Chang'an, today's Xi'an and capital of Shaanxi province, during the heyday of the Tang Dynasty (618-907), the series depicts the events of a single day divided into 12 periods according to the traditional Chinese zodiac.

The show has been compared by viewers to the US action drama series 24, not just due to its daylong format, but also for its suspenseful storyline and high-end production values.

The show has been streaming on Youku since June 27, and 20 out of its 48 total episodes have aired as of Thursday.

On popular review site Douban, the show reaped a rating of 8.6 out of 10 by more than 134,000 viewers, with nearly half of them awarding it full marks.

Many reviews laud the show for its historical accuracy, from the costumes down to the sets.

The top review on Douban by Shanshui Yanhua, which received over 7,000 likes, says: "The detailed depiction of the city of Chang'an alone deserves a five-star rating. It is a historical show made with deep sincerity."

The beginning of the first episode uses a long take to set the scene of the ancient capital during a festive occasion, drawing the viewer down into the ancient streets of Chang'an to walk among the children, street vendors and officials.

"All the costumes used in the show, whether for the protagonists or the extras, were made by the team-none of them were rented. We wove and dyed a lot of the cloth and printed the patterns ourselves," director Cao Dun says.
“剧中每一个角色,甚至包括群众演员在内,所有人的服装都是自己制作 —— 没有一件是租来的。很多布都是我们自己织的,上面的图案都是我们自己印染的。”导演曹盾表示。

Even Ma Boyong, the author of the original novel was amazed by the meticulous attention to detail that the director and his team put into the production. For instance, he did not think the team would actually design an entire visual encryption system for sending signals between the watchtowers.

Negative audience reviews about the show mainly center around the show's plot development and the use of ancient prose in conversations that some found obscure.

Starting from July, the show has also been launched as paid content on several overseas streaming platforms, including YouTube, Amazon Prime and Viki.

On Amazon US, one of the top reviews by user Nathan L. says the show is very well executed: "The details put in as well as the professionalism of the crew are superb."
在亚马逊美国网站上,用户Nathan L.的热门评论称这部剧拍的相当不错:“剧中的细节以及剧组的专业程度都没得说。”

The show now has a rating of 4.9 out of 5 stars on the streaming platform, with viewers pleading for more episodes and complete set of subtitles in both English and Chinese.

(Translator & Editor: Wang Xingwei AND Luo Sitian)