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Hit costume drama re-creates nation's cultural heyday

By XU FAN | CHINA DAILY | Updated: 2022-07-06 08:20
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Scenes from A Dream of Splendor, starring Liu Yifei and Chen Xiao. CHINA DAILY

During the following four and a half months, Chen, a Central Academy of Drama graduate, worked hard on his role, which required shooting footage overnight consecutively for 15 days and performing underwater stunts in a pool.

Chen, an award-winning veteran performer who shot to stardom with the 2014 television series The Romance of the Condor Heroes, has seen his dedication pay off.

A Dream of Splendor, which started to air in 40 episodes on the streaming site Tencent Video and its overseas service WeTV early last month, is one of China's most popular dramas to date this year. It is also being distributed to countries such as South Korea, Malaysia, Cambodia and Japan.

The production is widely considered by critics to have raised the bar for domestic costume romances, a popular genre in the nation's showbiz industry.

On Douban, one of the country's most-visited review platforms, the series earned 8.3 points out of 10-one of the highest scores for a new Chinese drama broadcast or streamed this year, while on MyDramaList, an English-language website where Asian drama and movie fans rate and discuss productions, it scored 8.3 points out of 10.

Loosely inspired by a classical play written in the Yuan Dynasty (1271-1368) by Guan Hanqing, known as "China's Shakespeare", A Dream of Splendor is set in the Song Dynasty (960-1279).

It tells the story of Zhao Pan'er, a talented teahouse owner from a humble background who rescues two women from miserable family lives, teaming up with them to successfully launch a business in Dongjing, the then-capital of the Song regime, and now known as Kaifeng city, Henan province.

Chen, as the secret agent, is trapped in during his investigation of a scandal related to the queen, during which he encounters the female protagonist Zhao. He and Zhao fall in love after experiencing a series of hardships.

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