Drama has always been a part of our lives. Be it as an element in the films or television shows you watch, the books you read, or even watching plays enacted on a stage.
Drama adds a flare to a rather dull and mundane story plot, giving it the much-needed twists and turns and making it more interesting and fun to watch. And who does not love watching dramas? From films to reality television shows, we all desperately crave the dramatic element.
However, Chinese dramas stand in a league of their own, especially war dramas. Be it fictional or non-fictional, they will undoubtedly leave you spellbound with their magical armors and inspirational speeches. SFX will make you go, “Dude, this is crazy good!” and the plots of these War Chinese dramas are just as awe-worthy, if not more!
So, presented before you is a well-curated list of 45 War Chinese Dramas for you to watch if you are looking to keep yourself entertained during the holidays or are thinking of trying to watch something different for a change.
If you are new to the genre, do not fret! There is something in this list that you may find worth watching as well! Be it binge-watching or staying up to date with the new episodes, there is everything for all.
1. Empresses in the Palace (2011–2012)
Rating- 8.3 Episodes- 76
The first episode of the war Chinese drama Empresses in the Palace was aired on 17 November 2011. The show has 1 season and is based on “Hougong Zhen Huan Zhuan” by Liu Lianzi.
A young woman from the Eight Banners’ family is married off to the Emperor of the Qing Dynasty. The woman is initially portrayed as innocent and naive. However, after surviving the various schemes set into motion against her and seeing the true colors of the people around her, she herself becomes sad and cruel. Later, the woman is bestowed with the title of Empress Dowager, the most powerful woman in the Emperor’s harem.
Furthermore, Empresses in the Palace also got its own spin-off titled “Ruyi’s Royal Love in the Palace” in 2018.
2. A Dream in Red Mansions (2010)
Rating- 8.6 Episodes- 50
A Dream in Red Mansions is based on the novel by Cao Xueqin titled “Dream of the Red Chamber.” The show has beautiful and soothing songs and an amazing cast and the scenery and setting of the show are bound to leave you starry-eyed!
The plot of the series revolves around the tragic love story of Lin Daiyu, a pretty woman of many talents, and Jia Baoyu, a clever and carefree man. Lin Daiyu is sent to her mother’s side of the family, where she meets Jia Baoyu and connects with him.
However, Baoyu has an affair with a maid as well as acts playful with his female cousins but eventually develops feelings for Daiyu.
No love story has ever been an easy one, and similarly, the pair face trials and tribulations along the way. Furthermore, the story praises and glorifies the revolts led by several servants as well as nurses in the Grand View Garden.
3. San guo yan yi (1995– )
Rating- 8.6 Episodes- 84
San guo yan yi or Romance of the Three Kingdoms, is a war Chinese drama series based on the novel of the same name by Luo Guanzhong. Towards the end of the 2nd century, China was in a state of turmoil. The land was divided by the warlords, and disasters such as droughts, and famine was very common.
During this time, Zhang Jiao and his brothers start to rebel against the Han. Zhang Jiao manages to convince people with his speeches and promises, and wearing a “yellow turban” they go around plundering towns.
They came to be known as the “Yellow Turbans” and were successful in overthrowing a few generals of the Imperial Court. The Imperial Courts set up an alliance in which Liu Bei, Cao Cao, and Sun Jian – the three generals – are recruited.
These generals, along with some help, successfully managed to put an end to the rebellion, which brought them immense popularity. But when one gets the taste of power, he always wants more. So did they.
The generals wish for China to be under one rule and continue to fight for it by waging wars and cutting down anyone who stands in their way. The drama narrates the ancient tale with such accuracy that it will make you want to watch it over and over again.
4. The Water Margin (1998)
Rating- 8.1 Episodes- 43
Based on the novel of the same name by Shi Nai’an, the Chinese war drama is produced by Zhang Jizhong. The show aired in January 1988 and starred Li Xuejian, Zang Jinsheng, Zhou Yemang, Ding Haifeng, and Zhao Xiaorui.
The Water Margin took us back to China a thousand years ago, wherein a cruel and unjust government had established its reign. However, a group of 108 renegades decides to unite and rebel against the government.
5. The Road We Have Taken (2009)
Rating- 7.8 Episodes- 50
Produced by Jiangsu Broadcast Media Group, The Road We Have Taken is also known as “The Road.” Like most of the other war Chinese dramas, this one is also based on an award-winning novel written by Jiang Quitao of the same name.
The series is set between the years 1925 and 1949 and places emphasis on three children in Liling county of the Hunan province. These three children are born into a big family and are driven by their hunger and desire to obtain a political path amidst a lot of chaos and ruin.
The show highlights many important historical events like the Second Sino-Japanese War, the Chinese Civil War, the First as well as Second United Front, and also the foundation of the People’s Republic of China.
6. Three Kingdoms (2010)
Rating- 8.3 Episodes- 95
Directed by Giao Xixi, Three Kingdoms is a modern remake of the 1995’s San gyo yan yi. Just like the one before, it is also based on the same book by Luo Guanzhong.
The plot is set in the Han Dynasty and portrays in detail the story of the Wei, Wu, and Shu Kingdoms in China. Being three of the major kingdoms in the country during that time, they shared complicated relationships and bad blood with each other.
The series aired in China in May of 2010 and went on to set a record for the most expensive small-screen series in China’s history during that time.
7. Princess Agents (2017)
Rating- 7.5 Episodes- 67
Princess Agents is based on the novel “11 Chu Te Gong Huang Fei” which is written by Xiao Xiang Dong Er. The show was initially broadcasted on 5th June 2017 on Hunan TV.
Set amidst the chaotic times of Northern Wei, a slave named Chu Qiao, is left in a forest along with some other slaves for the purpose of hunting. However, Prince Yan Xun saves the poor girl, but the experience proves to be traumatic for her.
She swears on her life to run away from the place, but her skills attract Master Yuwen Yue, who brings her under his care. There she learns to become a sacrificial agent and befriends Yan Xun.
Throughout the series, many battles take place, acquaintances get made, and false accusations and betrayals ensue. Moreover, once friends turn into enemies and love tinges on the air.
Although the show proved to be a huge success, it was left unfinished and ended on a cliffhanger, and so far, no sequel has been announced by the team.
8. The Qin Empire (2009)
Rating- 8.1 Episodes- 48
The Qin Empire is based on the novel of the same name by Sun Haohui and was produced in 2006. Furthermore, the show has three sequels- The Qin Empire II: Alliance (2012), The Qin Empire III (2017), and The Qin Empire IV (2019). Each of these sequels is also based on the novels by Sun Haohui.
The show is set during the Warring States period of China, when the country was on the verge of poverty and inner turmoil. Under the guidance and rule of Duke Xiao, the Qin State strives to restore itself to its initial golden days.
In order to do so, Duke Xiao promises that he will share Qin with anyone who assists him with restoring the State. A Legalist named Wei Yang avails the opportunity and decides to help the Duke with his quest.
The two men debate for days and nights, giving rise to a beautiful friendship. They work tediously for nearly two decades after the planning and emerged victorious in making Qin a powerful state.
9. The Advisors Alliance (2017)
Rating- 7.8 Episodes- 86
The Advisors Alliance is a two-part war Chinese drama television series that portrays the life of Sima Yi. The first part of the series aired on 22 June 2017, whereas the second part aired on 8 December 2017. The series starrs Wu Xiubo, Liu Tao,, Tang Yixin, Yu Hewei, Li Chen, Janine Chang, and Wang Luoyong.
The show portrays the life of Sima Yi, a military general and a government official who lived through China’s Eastern Han dynasty and Three Kingdoms period.
The first part covers his career as an advisor to Cao Cao’s son Cao Pi, who goes on to usurp Emperor Xian and establish the Cao Wei state. The second part covers his service under the three emperors Cao Pi, Cao Rui and Cao Fang.
Sima Yi rises to become a regent for Cao Fang, the third emperor. Further on, he stages a coup d’état and successfully manages to become the de facto ruler of Cao Wei.
10. The Wolf (2020)
Rating- 7.8 Episodes- 49
The Chinese war drama The Wolf aired on 19 November 2020 on Tencent Video, iQiyi, and Youku. It starrs Darren Wang, Li Qin, Lin Yo-wei, Xin Zhilei, Xiao Zhan, and Kuo Shu-yao.
Ma Zhaixing is the daughter of Ma Ying, the Kuizhou city governor. She meets a boy who is later adopted by Chu Kui, the emperor of Yang empire, who bestows the title of Prince Bo upon the young lad.
Eight years later, the pair chance upon a meeting and start to grow close to each other. Together, they help civilians, bring justice, and oppose strict government laws.
In the end, after many hardships and conflicts of their own, the two find joy and peace amid each other.
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11. Ice Fantasy (2016)
Rating- 6.7 Episodes- 78
Based on the bestselling novel “City of Fantasy” by Guo Jingming, this Chinese war drama is directed by Ju Jue Liang. The show has a total of two seasons, with 62 and 16 episodes, respectively.
The Fire King Huo Yi uses the murder of Xin Jue, the second prince of the fire tribe, who is killed during his visit to the Ice Tribe, to start a war between both tribes. During the war, most of the family of the Ice Tribe gets either killed or captured, except the two Ice Princes – Ka Suo and Ying Kong Shi.
The two make a getaway to the mortal realm and request help from the guardian Li Luo to help restore the Ice Wall so that their tribe can be saved. Eventually, the Fire Tribe is defeated, and the two brothers fight each other for the throne.
12. Winter Begonia (2020)
Rating- 8.5 Episodes- 49
Winter Begonia aired exclusively in 2020 on iQiyi and is based on Shui Ru Tian Er’s BL web novel of the same name.
The show narrates the story of the close relationship between Cheng Fengtai, an astute businessman, and Shang Xirui, a Peking opera genius. The two crossed paths in Beijing right before World War II.
Fengtai saves Xirui from a rebellious crowd during one of his performances. From here, the two develop a close friendship and together, face many trials and tribulations.
The show portrays the relationship between Cheng Fengtai and Shang Xirui as bromance, although the novel portrayed it as romantic.
13. Sparrow (2016)
Rating- 7.3 Episodes- 69
Sparrow aired from 5 September to 20 October 2016 on Hunan TV and is based on the book by Hai Fei of the same name.
Set during Shanghai’s revolutionary times, a communist agent named Chen Shen adopts “Sparrow” as his code name and infiltrates the Japanese base with a mission to secure a secret plan that could prove fatal for China.
14. Battle of Changsha (2014)
Rating- 8 Episodes- 32
Produced by Hou Hongliang, Battle of Changsha stars Wallace Huo and Yang Zi. The show comprises a single season which consists of 32 episodes. Furthermore, the show highlights the Anti-Japanese war and the Battle of Changsha during World War II.
Battle of Changsha follows the life of a mundane family residing in Changsha in the Hunan Province of China. A 16-year-old spoiled girl Hu Xiangxiang is seen running away from a blind date that was set up for her by her brother-in-law.
Gu Quingming is a senior KMT strategy advisor of the battle who is brave and enthusiastic. He wants to fight in the incoming war, unlike Hu Xiangxiang’s family, who wants to run far away so that they do not get caught in it.
Various incidents take place, and although initially, the two did not start off on the right foot, eventually, they cross paths again and develop a fondness towards each other while working together, providing help in times of war.
15. Tribes and Empires: Storm of Prophecy (2017)
Rating- 7.6 Episodes- 75
Tribes and Empires: Storm of Prophecy is a series adaptation of the novel written by Jin Hezai of the same name.
The series takes place in Novoland, a fictional world, and narrates the story of the young descendants of the Duan Dynasty. We have three male protagonists whose lives are intermingled with each other.
There are premonitions made, loyalty tested, friendships formed, truth uncovered, and battles fought. You will find love triangles, rivalry, some hidden motives, and a whole bunch of mysteries that will leave you in awe.
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16. General and I (2017)
Rating- 6.6 Episodes- 62
The series General and I is based on the novel “A Lonesome Fragrance Waiting to be Appreciated” by Feng Nong. It aired from 2 January to 10 February 2017 on Hunan Television.
He Xia and Bai Pingting are forced to run away from the Kingdom of Yan after Prince Jing’an’s mansion is destroyed. However, the two end up getting separated from each other and Pingting finds refuge in a monastery where she chances upon a meeting with Chu Beijie, a general of the Kingdom of Jin.
Chu Beijie immediately recognizes Pingting as she was his first love but sadly, since they both belong to opposite kingdoms, it makes it impossible for their relationship to have a bright future.
17. Novoland: Eagle Flag (2019)
Rating- 7.3 Episodes- 56
Novoland: Eagle Flag is based on the novel of the same name by Jiang Nan. The show aired on 16 July 2019 on online platforms like Tencent and Youku as well as on Zhejiang TV.
The show is set in the fictional world of Novoland and follows the emergence of three heroes-to-be and the struggles they face in becoming so.
The Crown Prince of the Qingyang tribe is sent as a hostage to the Hetang Kingdom where he crosses paths with Ji Ye, who is on a quest to become a warrior. He also meets the princess of the Winged tribe – Yu Ran. The three immediately connect with each other and become fast friends. However, both the boys fall in love with the princess which creates a love triangle.
Moreover, Ying Wuyi, a powerful warlord has been bestowing power to the Emperor and the three friends decide to join the battle against Ying Wuyi oblivious of the conspiracy at play.
18. Awakening of Insects (2019)
Rating- 7.2 Episodes- 45
Awakening of Insects takes place in the early 1940s when battle and bloodshed hung heavy in the air. The show has a total of 45 episodes and aired in 2019.
The series depicts the life of Chen Shan who, in order to save his captive younger sister, is forced to become a Japanese spy. He is caught amidst the conflicts between the KMT, CCP, and the Japanese. However, in the end Chen Shan emerges as a proud patriotic fighter.
19. Once Upon a Time in Qingdao (2014)
Rating- 5 Episodes- 42
Written by Zhao Dong Ling, Once Upon a Time in Qingdao aired in the year 2014 on a total of 6 networks including CCTV 8.
The story timeline commences in the year 1904 and ends in 1937 with the upsurge of war. It depicts the lives of three brothers and the obstacles they face in the unruly political period right before the war knocks upon their door.
20. Moment in Peking (2005)
Rating- 7.1 Episodes- 44
Aired from October 23, 2005, to December 2005, Moment in Peking is a war Chinese drama television series that is based on the novel of the same name by Lin Yutang. The series was produced by CCTV and has won seven awards.
The story follows Yao Mulan, along with two girls who get married to the sons of Zeng, which ensues lives filled with troubles and hardships. The series portrays multiple problems that arise in love, relationships, family, as well as in national honor.
21. Love in a Fallen City (2021)
Rating- 6.8 Episodes- 40
Love in a Fallen City is a series adaptation of the novel of the same name written by Chun Shanling. The series aired in 2021 and comprised 40 episodes.
The story revolves around a naive and ordinary young girl and a general. They both cross each other’s paths and eventually grow affectionate toward each other.
But as we all so accurately know, love itself is never enough to make anything work. The pair strive hard in order to obtain happiness and joy with each other despite the trials and tribulations that come their way.
22. My Chief and My Regiment (2009)
Rating- 8.2 Episodes- 43
Also known as “Chief” or “The Chief Show,” My Chief and My Regiment is an extremely popular Chinese series. It was directed by Kang Honglei and produced by Huayi Brothers Media Group. Furthermore, the series is based on the novel of the same name by Lan Xiaolong.
The show is narrated by a limping young soldier and tells about the Chinese National Revolutionary Army Expeditionary Force in Burma who, in the 1942 Battle of Yunnan-Burma Road, fought the Imperial Japanese Army at the Second Sino-Japanese War.
23. Red Sorghum (2014)
Rating- 6.9 Episodes- 60
The Chinese series Red Sorghum is based on the novel of the same name by Mo Yan, which was published in 1986. The series has won 11 awards so far and has received 13 nominations.
The series is set in the early 1930s and documents the various struggles and hardships of Jiu’er in the rural province of Shandong.
Moreover, it also features Zhou Xun’s return to television after 10 whole years.
24. Too Late to Say I Love You (2010)
Rating- 7.3 Episodes- 36
Too Late to Say I Love You is based on the novel by Fei Wo Si Cun titled “Bi Zhou Chen.” The series aired a total of 36 episodes from 30 August 2010 on Hubei TV.
The story follows a wealthy young woman who gets engaged to her childhood friend, who is thrown into prison on account of smuggling drugs and firearms. The woman takes on a train journey in order to save her man but instead ends up saving another young man from a manhunt.
Too Late to Say I Love You is a story filled with romance, political ambition, passion, and emotions. Difficult decisions are made, truths uncloaked, and love faced head-on.
25. Yangko Dance (2015 – 2019)
Rating- 7 Episodes- 79
Produced by Shandong Film and Television Media Group, Yangko Dance aired from October 2015 to December 2019 on Jiangsu TV and Tianjin TV.
Deriving inspiration from the Haiyang Yangge folk dance, Yangko Dance portrays the life of a fortune-teller who survives by begging for alms on the streets. He ends up getting caught in the vicious clutches of love, family, love and revenge.
The journey of the fortune-teller is a whirlwind. He crosses paths with a young woman who he develops a fondness for amidst the chaos and ruin that ensues.
The series is fully loaded with rivalry, bloodshed, and lots of drama for you to feast upon!
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26. Ashes of Love (2018)
Rating- 8.3 Episodes- 63
Ashes of Love is based on the novel “Heavy Sweetness, Ash-like Frost” written by Dian Xian, which was published in 2009. The series premiere was on 2 August 2018 on Jiangsu TV.
The Flower Deity Zifen foresees a prophecy that when her daughter is born, she will suffer a trial of love during the initial ten thousand years of her life. In order to protect her daughter from this, before she dies, Zifen gives her a magical pallet that prevents her from feeling romantic love.
Jinmi however becomes unknowingly involved in a love triangle between two brothers because of the magical pallet. These two brothers form rivalry towards each other, and wars are waged.
The series is filled with bloodshed, rivalry, romance, and several mysteries that will keep you hooked till the last minute!
27. Arsenal Military Academy (2019)
Rating- 8.3 Episodes- 48
Directed by Hue Kaidong, the war Chinese drama Arsenal Military Academy stars Li Chengbin, Bai Lu, Xu Kai, and Wu Jiayi.
The series tells the story of Xie Xiang, a girl who disguises herself as a male student in order to join the military. She wishes to follow in her deceased brother’s footsteps. In the military academy, she comes across Shen Junsan and Huang Song, and they all become good friends.
Xie Xiang works very hard and overcomes all obstacles that come her way, eventually becoming a good soldier who makes everyone, especially herself, proud.
However, the group of friends soon come to find that there is a huge conspiracy at play that surrounds the Chinese resistance and the Qing dynasty, and so they decide to uncover the truth.
28. Who Rules the World (2022)
Rating- 8.4 Episodes- 40
Who Rules the World is based on the romance novel “Let’s Try The World” written by Quing Lengyue. The show was broadcasted from 18 April 2022 to 17 May 2022, releasing a total of 40 episodes. You can watch the entire show on Netflix.
Who Rules the World is a story depicting the age-old saying “opposites attract.” Hei Feng Xi and Bai Feng Xi are the exact opposites of each other. Love blossoms between the two amidst the chaos and ruin of warfare and the vicious claws of the political world.
29. Ever Night (2018 – 2020)
Rating- 8.1 Episodes- 103
Aired in October of 2018, “Ever Night” is the TV series adaptation of the novel “Jiang Ye” by Mao Ni. The show is divided into 2 seasons, with the first season having 60 episodes and the second having 43 episodes.
In the Tang Dynasty, a general ruthlessly kills a family, but a young boy somehow manages to escape from his lust for blood. The boy survives by becoming a murderer himself.
One fine day, the boy uncovers a girl who is lost amidst a pile of corpses. The two grow close and become inseparable. Later in the story, the boy becomes a part of the military and joins the entourage of a princess.
The little girl takes ill out of the blue, and the boy discovers that she is, in fact, the reincarnation of a powerful being who is said to bring chaos and ruin.
30. The Long Ballad (2021)
Rating- 8.3 Episodes- 49
Also known by its other name, “Chang Ge Xing,” The Long Ballad is a Chinese war drama that is based on the manhua of the same name published in 2011 by Xia Da.
The story is set during the Tang dynasty when the emperors Gaozu and Taizong had established their reigns. It follows the narrative of an imperial princess who is after revenge and whilst seeking it, meets a tribal prince.
The series depicts many authentic historical figures throughout its duration, however, the relationships between most of them, as well as the series plot is purely fictional.
And with this, we wrap up the list of Chinese war dramas for you to watch right now.
Historical and war dramas are always a good choice to watch as not only are they fun and interesting, but they also help educate our minds. Be it fictional or non-fictional, there is always something or the other to learn. Furthermore, the Chinese culture and traditions switch up the whole outlook of the shows.
From the wars within dynasties, internal conflicts, blossoming romance, love triangles, betrayals, unearthing conspiracies, and exploring magical realms to learning important life-changing lessons, these drama shows will not only keep you entertained but also help inculcate knowledge.
So, what will you be watching next?