Chinese Republican espionage drama The Rebel <叛逆者> premiered on June 7, and has already pulled in favorable impressions with the CCTV broadcast peaking at 1.2 percent in ratings. Led by Zhu Yilong (朱一龙) and Tong Yao (童瑶), the overall cast delivered strong performances. The dark and mysterious opening builds tension with shots signifying angst and tragedy ahead.
The Rebel is adapted from the novel of the same name written by Bi Yu (畀愚). Set in 1936, the story follows a young trainee of the Fuxing Club Lin Nansheng (Zhu Yilong), who is chosen to go on a mission due to his outstanding observation and logic skills. He is ordered by the Shanghai district head of the Club Chen Moqun (Wang Yang 王阳) to infiltrate an underground Communist base led by university student Zhu Yizhen (Tong Yao). While working as a Kuomintang operative, he eventually grows to admire the courage and the beliefs held by the Communists. Later as a double agent, he strives to fight against the Japanese regime to achieve national justice and peace.
Playing a spy in these conflicted times, Yilong looks rugged with his thin frame and sunken cheeks. The low lighting and close-up shots effectively makes every scene look raw and realistic. While his acting is very detailed and his expressive eyes convey his inner conflict, Yilong delivers a cautious performance, and the supporting cast tends to outshine him in the opening episodes.
Veteran Wang Yang (王阳) shows to be more eye-catching with his role as the chilling Chen Moqun, who uses any means necessary, including gruesome torture tactics to psychologically break down captured spies to extract information. Another senior actor, Wang Zhiwen (王志文), who plays Gu Shenyan, impresses with his quick change in expressions under a minute.
The plot moves quickly and the identity of the Communist mole is unveiled in the first two episodes, but the cleverly written dialogue and psychological tension hooks viewers in. Drawing parallels to classic espionage drama The Disguiser <伪装者>, fans of the genre will surely not want to miss The Rebel.
“The Rebel” Trailer
This article is written by Minna for JayneStars.com.