Wars have a way of defining nations, and China’s history is no exception.
From the Qin-Han transition to the Sino-Japanese War, these wars have stories that are still captivating today, and when fictionalized from an often overlooked standpoint, it’s almost like it has been given new life.
In this article, I’ll be listing 15 absolutely thrilling Cdramas about war that will no doubt keep you glued to your screen for a long time.
These war dramas are intense and entertaining, and they’ll definitely teach you about the heart and soul of these historical conflicts from the viewpoint of the ordinary man.
The Flame of Youth, Autumn Cicada, & 13 other fantastic historical Chinese dramas about war you can’t miss:
1. Battle of Changsha
Battle of Changsha is set during the Second Sino-Japanese War, and events are seen through the eyes of Hu Xiang Xiang and her family.
Gu Qing Ming, a Nationalist Army Intelligence Officer, meets Hu Xiang Xiang in an unexpected way.
And as the war unfolds and Changsha faces constant danger, their relationship is tested by the challenges of war and potential separation.
2. Defying The Storm
Between 1937 and 1945 in Peiping, three intellectual families faced turmoil.
Some sought to preserve Chinese culture and the nation’s future, blending idealism and realism.
They strived to save their country, searching for a way forward, and ultimately, they moved towards finding hope amidst challenging times.
This is yet another brilliant wartime Chinese drama with significantly less action than the others, but it’s just as good.
3. Autumn Cicada
In 1941, during the war in East Asia, young patriot Ye Chong becomes a communist double agent, known as the “Autumn Cicada.”
And, his mission is to infiltrate the collaborators aiding Japanese occupation in Hong Kong and to relay said information to his communist comrades.
As he faces constant danger, Japanese intelligence hunts for the mole, but sympathetic freedom fighters, including He Ying, support him in completing his perilous mission.
4. Farewell To Arms
In 1937, during the Japanese aggression, Zhang Han Shi, a regular man from a scholarly family, saw his family murdered on the night before his wedding day, but he survived.
Driven by revenge, he joined the Communist Party and fought against the Japanese alongside and others resisting their aggression.
I watched a really insightful documentary about the Japanese aggression before and during the Second World War, and, you guys, it was a lot to take in – this Cdrama set in this period will give you a ground-level view of how it affected ordinary people.
5. The Qin Empire
In the 4th century BC, the Qin state in western China faced the threat of annexation by six eastern states during the Warring States period.
Duke Xiao of Qin, determined to revive his weakened state, enlisted talents like Shang Yang.
Together, they implemented sweeping reforms over two decades, turning Qin into a formidable power and setting the stage for its eventual unification of China under the Qin dynasty in 221 BC.
In Anarhan, set in the late 1940s to early 1950s during Xinjiang’s liberation, a woman named Anarxan is offered as a concubine to Commissioner Emin by Landlord Osman.
Anarxan, who is in love with Qurban, refuses and faces persecution.
Meanwhile, Emin and Inspector Masha aim to prevent the Communist Party’s entry into Xinjiang.
Raxman supports the People’s Liberation Army, and this leads to the villagers’ struggles against oppressive landlords and a hopeful new beginning.
7. The Flame Of Youth
This drama is about the Songhu Anti-Japanese War which was one in a series of conflicts between China and Japan – with the former campaigning against aggression from the latter.
It follows Gu Xing, an ordinary person in Shanghai who gets caught up in a case with counter-revolutionaries and Japanese spies during the war.
Through unexpected events, Gu Xing ends up joining the revolution, and I can’t stress enough how much I love a drama about an unwilling leading man who gets roped into things unexpectedly.
If this Chinese war drama sounds like it’s up your alley, then you really don’t want to miss it.
Wei Da He, a former anti-Communist fighter, changes his views and joins the Communist party during the Xi’an Incident – The Xi’an Incident in 1936 led to Chiang Kai-shek’s capture and a temporary alliance with the Chinese Communist Party against Japanese aggression.
Despite his accomplishments, he’s sent home due to conflicts, but he later returns to the frontlines, and falls in love with Jiang Ya Zhen, unaware of her Communist ties.
This story explores Wei Da He’s ideological shift amidst a backdrop of war and romance.
9. One Sword Sweeps All
Sheng Zhong Hao, along with his martial siblings Wen Li Xuan and Zhen Yu Huan, are members of the famous Shengjia Opera Troupe.
When they have a deadly conflict with the bandit Jiang You Cai, Zhong Hao’s father and teacher is critically wounded and though Zhong Hao swears not to revenge, he ends up in a Japanese labor camp.
Because of this, he loses contact with his siblings, but they reunite years later on the battlefield, and they band together to fight the Japanese.
10. The Patriot
In 1930s/40s China, Manchuria is ruled by Japan.
The CCP’s spy network is in trouble, so two agents, Song Yan Qiao and Shu Jie, work to weaken the Japanese control and rescue their imprisoned friends.
They are fighting to bring freedom to their fellow CCP members.
This is another high-octane, must-watch Chinese drama about war that’s perfect if you’re in the mood for an intense, nerve-wracking watch that will keep you glued to your screen.
11. Smile In Spring
He Tao Hua’s father, a respected military officer, is killed during a time of military rule, so she disguises herself and sets out to uncover his murderer.
In 1925, after her family’s tragic end, Tao Hua finds work as a maid, and then she forms a close bond with Old Master Liao and falls in love with Young Master Liao Chun Feng.
But, when Chun Feng learns her true identity, he confesses and leaves for war, and determined to be with him, Tao Hua sets off on a challenging journey after him.
12. The Legendary Warrior
Emperor Li Shi Min from the Tang Dynasty often has a scary dreams where he’s chased in a forest and cornered by enemies.
But each time, a brave and skilled warrior comes to rescue him.
So, the Emperor thinks it’s a sign and wants to find this heroic person.
13. Railway Wind and Cloud
In 1927, in the unsettled North East, Cao Mofei and his group bravely face Japanese invaders as they try to construct a railway under Chinese authority.
They fight fiercely in tjr brutal battle to protect their land and regain control, and this drama unfolds during a challenging time in history.
I can’t say about you, but before watching this war C-drama, the synopsis checked all my boxes and I was absolutely amped to check it out – it definitely did not disappoint.
14. A Gallant Army
In 1948, during the Huaihai Campaign, soldier Mao Bao reunites with his friend Lu Sheng Wen, now on opposing sides.
After a crucial mistake, Mao leads a group called the ‘tiger team’ for the Communist Party.
The friends then clash in battle, with Mao supporting the Communists and Lu fighting for the Kuomintang.
15. Big Inn
In 1940, during World War II, the Japanese took control of Harbin City in Manchuria.
Zhao Zi Lan, who runs a big inn there, gains the trust of the Japanese occupiers, and meanwhile, Lin Zhuo Ying, sent by the Communist Party, is mistaken for Zhao Zi Lan’s deceased husband.
To carry out his mission, Lin pretends to be Zhao’s husband and stays at the inn.
Over time, he resists temptations and gains influence over Zhao.
Of all the wars China has either been directly or indirectly involved in, which sounds like it would be interesting? Which one makes you curious? Let me know in the comment section!
I’ve just listed the best war Chinese dramas I’ve watched, enjoyed, and loved and, trust me when I say that any of these are a great place to start.
After this, check out this post on the best Chinese movies about wars you can binge in one weekend and I’ve also written something about the best biographical Chinese movies and dramas.