Chang’an was once the bustling capital of the Tang dynasty. On the day of the Lantern festival, when the city will be filled with revellers, attackers are planning to destroy it. This is the unfolding of an action-packed 24 hours to foil the plan.
SBS Guide

22 Jan 2020 - 10:08 AM  UPDATED 5 Feb 2021 - 8:42 AM

Fans of 24 will be familiar with the structure of this Chinese period drama, which follows one very stressful day in the cosmopolitan heart of the Tang dynasty, Chang’an.

It’s 744AD, and the capital city is gearing up to stage the Lantern festival, one of the most important events on the calendar. Curfew is lifted and people flood in from all around to celebrate. But Intelligence receives a tip-off that terrorists are planning an attack on the day of the festival. The young leader of the bureau must scramble to stop the planned attack, which would devastate not only the city, but the court itself.

Lu Cai (Saving Mr Wu) plays the Intelligence leader with decisive constraint and a maturity belying his youthfulness. To head up the immediate investigation, he retrieves a former army officer from his tortured life on death row (Lei Jiayin) and teams him up with an eager young investigator, Li Bi (played by pop idol Jackson Yee).  

The tension ramps up quickly. With the stakes set this high, so much stands to unravel along the way. On top of the tight deadline to avoid a catastrophe are the stress of a court rife with infighting and an ageing emperor preoccupied with his young lover; there’s no shortage of action here.

Directed by Dun Cao, who is also a cinematographer (Love Is Not Blind), the show is visually stunning, and the high production values had people raving upon its premier in China last year. The show has also been praised for its research into the clothing, make-up and architecture of the time, ensuring its visually rich depictions are as authentic as possible. The details make for a substantial backdrop to the unfolding drama of a momentous day in China’s history.

Based on Ma Boyong’s novel of the same name, the series takes place over 48 episodes, each accounting for 30 minutes of the day. You won’t notice the time passing though, there’s so much going on, and you’ll be cheering for the team to complete their extremely high-stakes mission. 

The Longest Day In Chang’an season 1 and 2 (that's all 48 episodes) is now streaming at SBS On Demand.

More from The Guide
Laughs, murder, mayhem: Demand different with these series at SBS On Demand
From Nordic mystery to Chinese period drama to heart-warming Australian comedy, these essential series give you plenty of options for gripping summer viewing.
‘Dark Matter’ is a mind-bending space drama that’s totally bingeable
Six people wake up on a spaceship with no idea who they are or how they got there. Then things get worse.
10 inspiring movies about the power of art and creativity
From the sheer creativity of fashion to the talent of artists, actors and writers, these films showcase the power of artistic endeavour.
Big Summer Movies at SBS On Demand
Beat the heat with this epic collection of Hollywood blockbusters, Oscar favourites and arthouse hits currently streaming at SBS On Demand.
‘Valley of the Boom’ takes a ride through a wild time in our modern tech history
From the leaps in technology in the 1990s to the bust in 2001, this fascinating series makes us marvel that all of this really happened.
The young pope is (almost) dead – long live ‘The New Pope’
Thought-provoking and visually stunning, ‘The Young Pope’ was like nothing on television. Now that John Malkovich has the top job, things will never be the same.
With an all-star cast, ‘Face To Face’ may be the ultimate Nordic Noir
One cop, seven famous suspects and a lot of tough questions.
There’s more twists than time travel in 'Continuum'
Continuum is the binge-worthy adventures of a future cop trapped in our time fighting terrorists out to destroy the future. Here’s what you need to know to get up to speed.
Best movies and TV shows of 2019 / Celine Sciamma interview - 'Portrait of a Lady on Fire'
As we count down the days remaining in 2019, join Ben, Fiona, and special guest John, as they count down their favourite movies and TV shows the year.
Nordic Noir with an identity swap twist: Welcome to 'Twin'
It’s an identity-swap thriller with a twist when Game of Thrones’ Kristofer Hivju plays twins – one of whom has to pretend to be his own dead brother.