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Suspense drama raises the bar for iQIYI's Light On Theater program

Updated: 2024-01-23 15:51 ( chinadaily.com.cn )
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Poster for The Lonely Warrior [Photo provided to chinadaily.com.cn]

The Lonely Warrior, or San Da Dui, a popular crime thriller that has kept Chinese people both glued to the screens and on tenterhooks, has recently wrapped up with resounding success.

The 24-episode series, produced by iQIYI, China's equivalent of Netflix, achieved a remarkable content popularity index of over 9,800 on the streaming platform. It has also topped multiple influential watch lists, including Enlightent, Vlinkage, and the Maoyan Hot List, as well as iQIYI's charts.

The thriller's popularity has also extended globally through iQIYI International, with the show dominating viewership rankings in Japan and featuring prominently in some markets outside the Chinese mainland such as Hong Kong, Singapore, Australia, Indonesia, and Canada.

Based on a real-life case, The Lonely Warrior tells a gripping tale of a man's 13-year-long obstinate, obsessive quest for truth.

Actor Qin Hao plays Cheng Bing in The Lonely Warrior [Photo provided to chinadaily.com.cn]

Starring award-winning actor Qin Hao, it opens with the unexpected death of a suspect during an interrogation, ending the careers of the elite Third Brigade investigative unit led by Cheng Bing. After being released from decadelong imprisonment, Cheng is hell-bent on hunting down Wang Dayong, another suspect on the lam all those years. He reunites with his squad, who have since transitioned to ordinary lives, and together they embark on a hardship-filled journey to pursue the elusive suspect.

"Rather than sensationalizing violence, we hope to elicit empathy by spotlighting the touching heroism and pursuit of justice of ordinary people. Our goal is to present a story that deeply engages and resonates with audiences through the characters' journeys," remarked Dai Ying, senior vice president of iQIYI and the series' chief producer.

The show is a production of "Light On Theater", iQIYI's flagship nail-biting suspense program, famous for titles such as The Bad Kids (2020), The Long Night (2020), and Why Try to Change Me Now (2023).

Having intricate character development, groundbreaking narrative styles, and emotional depth, these series have captivated global audiences and reshaped the perception of original Chinese content, marking a significant leap for Chinese-language dramas venturing into new overseas markets and expanding their global footprint, industry insiders said.

Five "Light On Theater" offerings — Interlaced Scenes, Breaking the Shadows, Tell No One, The Limbo and Lost in the Shadows, are slated to be released this year, according to the company.

Actor Chen Minghao plays Wang Dayong in The Lonely Warrior [Photo provided to chinadaily.com.cn]
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