Reasons for “The Learning Curve of a Warlord’s” Success in China

The Learning Curve of a Warlord <大帥哥> was originally anticipated to be a big winner at the 2018 TVB Anniversary Awards Ceremony, but unfortunately ended up empty handed. However, only a third of the drama has aired and it has already received great ratings and reviews. On China’s streaming platform, Youku, it has received 260 million views overtaking the winner of Best Drama, Life on The Line <跳躍生命線>, which has only received 100 million views.

There are many reasons for the success of the drama in Mainland China. One being that Dicky Cheung (張衛健) is extremely popular. Even though he has not filmed a television drama since 2015, he is irreplaceable in the hearts of the Chinese audience. He was one of the first Hong Kong actors to venture into China and shot to stardom in 1999 with Young Hero Fong Sai Yuk <少年英雄方世玉>. Since then, he has filmed many classics that have been well received in China.

As well, Dicky’s works are always guaranteed to be of high quality. He is famous for being very serious about his work. He participated in the planning of The Learning Curve of a Warlord and made many suggestions to the script even when it was not his own dialogue. As well, he refused to use a stunt double for the drama’s many action scenes. Dicky also took on the task of singing the theme song for the drama. Not forgetting the Mainland audience; he also recorded a Mandarin version of the song.

The drama uses a humorous method to depict the warlord era. During the early stages of planning, it was a goal to make this an Anniversary series for the 50th anniversary of TVB. Memorable lines from dramas in the past 50 years were randomly placed throughout in the series, and Dicky was able to show off his talent for tongue twisters. Due to this, many of the Mainland audience chose to watch the Cantonese version without the dub.

Lastly, Life on the Line was a drama focused on real life events in Hong Kong. Unfortunately Mainland audience were not able to relate which led to a lower view rate.

Many netizens feel that Dicky was cheated of an award given the success of the drama. However, as Sheren Tang (鄧萃雯) once said, “I would rather not get an award and have people pity me, than get an award and have people say that I am not worthy.”

Source: HK01

This article is written by Kiki for

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  1. I seriously doubt anyone will say Dicky is not worthy of an award. He is the singular reason why this series works. I have to add, it was almost too much words, too much dialogue with dicky alone and for me Raymond Cho is a lifesaver. He has few dialogues, but his deadpan delivery of his often times sarcastic lines are a perfect match to Dicky’s wisecracks. I am really enjoying this series, especially the whole bits about the Japanese and the revelation about Tin Kiu. I must also say, I am impressed with Vivien Yeo who has improved so much but it is the complexity of the character of tin kiu as portrayed by zoie tam (?) impressed me the most. At first she was rather bland but now getting interesting. I know she speaks fluent japanese and I like how the series dubbed over their dialogue with cantonese as if really speaking Japanese. I do think zoie tam will make an excellent .. Wong Yung? Huang Rong? Pity no wuxia series so far.

    Anyway I am surprised china is watching cantonese version. I mean the dialogues are so cantonese based but can they understand? And yet the title is a pun on the cantonese; da shuai ge. I find that witty.

    i am still not happy with the supporting cast but I do think Sisley is ok in here. Anyone can pair with Dicky, he’s like Bobby except Dicky is a natural flirt whilst Bobby is natural cute.

    Happy for its success and yes mr Botox, Joe Ma has the emotional range in entire series equivalent to Dicky’s 3 minutes in this series. Love the bit about his 4 virtues? I am still chuckling over the Japanese bits. That was funny stuff.

    1. @funnlim Definitely agree with your last para. So annoyed Tvb gave the award to Botox Joe. His role and performance pale in comparison to Dicky and I’m not even a fan of Dicky, just speaking objectively. Though I wasn’t planning on watching this drama, I glad I did. It’s amazing how he (and Joe) still look good paired with actresses more than 20 years younger. Dicky has awesome gift of the gab and a fantastic memory too.

      1. Quite obvious that Dicky is carrying this series hard, heck even his characters chinese name is essentially Dicky lol. It’s easy to see the low budget in the series though, compare the sets used in this drama vs Lords of Shanghai.

        I think another positive about this series, is that there is always something new happening in every episode.

        Since it is Dicky’s comeback series (an possible last series for a long while), not suprised that they have Dicky in the forefront, taking most of the dialogue. The series is made for him after all.

  2. Don’t know why but Googled Dicky’s past interview where he was quite candid on how he ‘tricked’ others into believing he was popular so they would get signed.
    He admitted to lying about having 10 movie deals in an interview when he didn’t have any and tricked people to offer me movie deals. That actually worked, he got a new movie offer daily since his lie. He also mentioned the tactics he used to trick people into thinking a big music company was trying to sign him but it was all a fake.
    Quite candid really for someone to tell people about those details. Being an actor does help greatly to make people believe the stuff he was pulling.

  3. My parents decided to skip over it because they felt the theme was really dated, like something that would be made twenty years ago so I watched it by myself. This show is really a one man show that Dicky is carrying by himself.
    Zoie Tam really deserves more credit as an actress. I was hoping she would win BSA last year with her role in My Unfair Lady. I would much rather watch her lead a series than let’s say Rebecca zhu or Grace chan.

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