This is a 70-episode large-scale heroic historical drama brought together by CCTV, Hebei Provincial Central Advertising Department, Xi’an’s Aojinbai Film and Television Co., Ltd, Yunnan Radio and Television Media Group Co., Ltd, Beijing Perfect Jianxin Film and Television Culture Co., Ltd, Shanghai Qinren Legend Film and Television Culture Co., Ltd, and Perfect World (Beijing) Film and Television Culture Co., Ltd. With Guo Jingyu as screenwriter and director, the drama is directed by Liu Ye and Ju Xingmao, with a cast ensemble including Wei Zi, Yue Lina, Heizi, Yang Zhigang, and Yu Yi. It recounts the resentment and hatred of the Jehol Province’s “Dai” and “Na” families spanned over half a century and the legendary anti-Japanese war of the non-governmental organization “Pole Gang” led by Dai Tianli.
The story premiered nationwide in Jiangsu City Channel in August 2013 and aired on Anhui Satellite TV, Beijing Satellite TV, Tianjin Satellite TV, Chongqing Satellite TV, and Yunnan Satellite TV on October 2013. On October 28, it was broadcast on CCTV’s comprehensive channel.
“Dog Stick” is a legendary drama based on the Anti-Japanese Resistance War in Jehol Province. More than 100 million yuan was invested in the drama, hence breaking the investment record of historical legendary dramas. In order to film, produce, and elaborate on the historical style and customs of Jehol, there were snow scenes shot in old mountains and deep forests. In the northeast mountainous areas which make up some epic scenes, the production saw more than 40,000 people on set and thousands of costumes!
Director Guo Jingyu, who is a Chengde citizen adapted Dai Junqin first draft and Xiao Shaoquan’s second draft incorporated his hometown’s historical records of the Chengde’s War of Resistance against Japan and added his mother’s personal recounts of the events, combined with his personal accumulation of more than 30 years and finally wrote this poignant period masterpiece. On the last page of the final script, he wrote: “With this drama, I would like to pay tribute to the ancestors who died in the war, and to the great Chinese nation. Tributes to the never-yielding people of Rehe.”
“Dog Stick” story begins when the Eight Force alliance attacked Beijing in 1900, all the way to the founding of New China in 1949. The narratives follow the resentment between the Dai and Na families of Jehol Province, and the legendary journey of the non-governmental organization “Pole Gang” led by Dai Tianli in the Anti-Japanese war.
“Dog stick”, the gang’s symbolic icon, signifies fighting mad dogs, evil dogs, traitor dogs, and invading dogs.
By chance, Dai Tian-li (acted by Wei Zi) got hold of the dog stick and became the leader of the Jehol pole gang. The Jehol pole gang stands by civil justice and is against intrusion and opium, causing the gang to stand in the way of profit organizations. Dai Tian-li is eventually caught in a love-hate triangle relationship between Na Su-zhi (acted by Yue Lina), the daughter of the Na family, and his fellow brother Na Tu-Lu (acted by Heizi).
Dai Tian-li organizes an anti-Japanese volunteer army when war resistance against Japan breaks out to fend against the enemy. With the country’s crisis as a priority, all feuds are set aside with a common goal to fight for the country.
In the end, Na Suzhi who is in her golden years ends up together with Dai Tianli, the love of her life. In the torrent years of the resistance war against Japan, Ma Jiujin (acted by Yang Zhigang), Dai Tianli’s son, organized the Maoshan Anti-Japanese Guerilla Force under the leadership of the Communist Party and fought the enemies bravely. Despite the threat of the Japanese, Dai Tianli did not cave in as he hosted the wedding on the execution ground for the daughter and son-in-law of the communist member. The drama “Dog Stick” entangles the story spanning three generations in creating a magnificent and soul-stirring story that inherits the spirit of the people of Jehol who never succumbs.
The premiere of “Dog Stick” on the Jiangsu City Channel caused a rare viewing craze and it became a huge hit on the night of the broadcast. It maintained the champion place for the opening episode for all dramas broadcasted in 2013. The hearty and enjoyable storyline and character also kept the weekly ratings constantly rising. Since its broadcast in October 2013 on SCTV-1, its ratings constantly rise and reached its peak with the showing of the final episode after 35 days. Under the data of Central CSM organization collating the ratings of evening shows from 33 cities nationwide, Tianjin Satellite TV achieve first place with a viewership rating of 2.003% and a market share of 5.081%. Beijing Satellite TV, Anwei Satellite TV, Chongqing Satellite TV are third, fifth, and seventh places respectively. Retaining the top ten places by the four channels has generated a market share total of more than 15.755%, and a total viewership rating of 6.213%, breaking new market records. On Beijing Satellite TV itself, “Dog Stick” scored a double victory with a high rating of 12.82% for a single episode and highest rating nationwide of 1.57%, achieving Beijing’s Satellite TV prime timeslot champion for the year of 2013.
The story is also recognized by the general public. An audience commented: “The drama “Dog Stick” has a strong storytelling component, I think the narrative plot is strong and very catchy. What is especially valuable is the unpretentious portrayal of an Anti-Japanese themed drama. Every time I see an ordinary person standing up and fighting bravely, I am really moved. I rarely watched TV shows these days, which is surprising I managed to watch “Dog Stick” from the start till the end, the plot is really touching. The power of patriotism is very strong. It is a show that has educational significance whether old or young. Every character is pleasing to watch. Director Guo Jingyu did not disappoint.”
”DogStick” became the 2013 National Drama Festival “Top Ten TV Series”, Guo Jingyu won “Favorite Screenwriter”, Wei Zi won “Audience Choice Favorite Male Actor”, Yue Lina won “Breakthrough Spiritual Female Actor”, Yu Yi “Audience Choice Favorite Character” and Wang Kui Rong won “Best Skilled Male Actor”. “Dog Stick” swept 6 awards and became the biggest winner that night. In the year 2014, it won multiple awards including 19th Hebei Provincial Film and Television Art Running Horse Award, “Dog Stick” won the first-class prize in the drama category; Top 10 Outstanding TV Dramas in the 10th National Television Production Industry; Outstanding TV Drama award in the 27th China TV Golden Eagle Awards, as well as a nomination for Best Drama Director. The drama won first place in the 13th Huading Award. Furthermore, Guo Jing Yu, Dai Junqing, Xiao Shaoquan won “China Top 100 TV Series Best Screenwriters”, Wei Zi won the “Chinese TV Drama Annual Achievement Award”, and Yue Lina won “National Television Favorite Star. On December 23rd, 2015, “Dog Stick” was shortlisted for the “Television Award” on the 30th Flying Asparas TV Awards ceremony and won the “Flying Apsaras” award for Outstanding TV Drama.
”Dog Stick” Reviews
The success of “Dog Stick” affirms the purpose of long-form TV series, proving that good dramas are not afraid to be long. An online user commented: “I watched all 70 episodes of the drama “Dog Stick”, not missing out on a single one. The finale was super satisfying! The twists and turns of the plot and the engaging characters make the drama successful. Art originates from life, and is higher than life leaves me invigorated. “Dog Stick” is a good drama that is grounded and inspiring.”
An online user on Phoenix Net reviewed, “It is a rare legendary period production. The theme of the drama is unique and at the same time, grounded in the local culture of Jehol, leaving the audiences refreshed. With the Anti-Japanese Resistance War as the narrative background, the main melody of the Jehol people struggling in these torrent times, and the secondary plot of the love and hatred between two families, “Dog Stick” tells the legendary life of the older generation who fought bravely in the Anti-Japanese war, depicting the touching story of the heroes in the form of ordinary people who sacrificed themselves in the war. The twists and turns of the plot leave the audience in suspense and the characters’ development is full. There are exciting family grievances, love story, and the struggles in revolutionary times. The show presents the struggles and awakening history of the Jehol people, bringing a unique perspective and new visual impact on the audiences. “Dog Stick” distinguishes itself from dramas of general anti-war themes and legendary heroic themes, making it more attractive. In addition, the superb acting skills of the actors of the show left a deep impression, which adds to the success of the show.”