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|Created by||Huayi Brothers Media Group (华谊兄弟电视娱乐有限公司)|
|Written by||Lan Xiaolong (兰晓龙)|
|Directed by||Kang Honglei (康红雷)|
|Country of origin||China|
|No. of episodes||28|
|Producer(s)||Zhang Qian (张谦) as chief producer
Wu Yi (吴毅)
|Running time||50 minutes (approx.)|
|Original network||Xi'an TV (西安电视台)|
|Original release||December 24, 2006|
Soldiers Sortie (simplified Chinese: 士兵突击; traditional Chinese: 士兵突擊) is a 2007 Chinese TV drama based on a novel by Lan Xiaolong. It was co-produced by the 8-1 Film Studio, Chengdu Military Region Television Arts Center, Huayi Brothers Film Investment Co. Ltd., and Yunnan TV Station. The production cast includes Kang Honglei as director, Wu Yi as producer, Qian Zhang as chief producer, and Lan Xiaolong as script writer.
- A shy village boy, nicknamed to fellow villages as "Idiot the Third" due to his avoidant and introverted personality. He was forced to quit school (despite being a model student) and drafted into People's Liberation Army by his alcoholic and bad-tempered father, who considered him "turtlish" and hoped that military life would toughen him up. After boot camp, he was assigned to the remote 5th Squad of the "Red" 3rd Company (known notoriously as "commanders' tomb, dunces' heaven" due to the extreme slack culture there) because of his very poor performance in boot camp. At 5th Squad, he irritated everyone with his dedication to duty. Slowly, however, he was appreciated by his squadmates who eventually changed their ways, led by the squad leader Lao Ma. Sanduo was later reassigned to the 3rd Squad of the famed "Steel" 7th Company", an elite scout company of mechanized infantry, where he was generally perceived as the greatest liability to the company. But through encouragement by his squad leader Shi Jin and his own determination and effort, he made a lot of progress and was accepted by the company as one of their own. After the split of the "Steel" 7th Company, Sanduo was later drafted into the ultra-elite special operations "Unit A", eventually became a core member of the elite force.
- Chen Sicheng (陈思成) as Private, later NCO (Class 1) Cheng Cai (成才):
- A boy who came from the same village as Sanduo, he was a childhood bully but a very talented soldier. He joined the army with Sanduo and went to the Third Squad of the famed Steel Seventh Company (a squad renowned as the long-term performance champion) immediately after boot camp, where he was trained into an excellent marksman. Cunning, ambitious and eager for promotion, he arranged for his own transfer from the 7th Company in the hope that he could show off better as an elite somewhere else, earning the disgust from the entire 7th Company as a traitor. Ironically he was assigned to be the leader of 5th Squad of 3rd Company (Sanduo's old squad known for being a delinquent's heaven), much to his own chagrin. He was later invited to the drafting for the "Unit A" special ops with Sanduo, but was rejected despite being the best performer because of his lack of commitment to his comrades. He went back to 5th Squad alone in disgrace, and spent the next year cleansing his own soul. He was later recommended by Captain Gao and went to the elite force again, eventually earning the appreciation of Lieutenant Colonel Yuan Lang, the commander of Unit A and was allowed to stay.
- Xing Jiadong (邢佳栋) as NCO (Class 2, later Class 3) Wu Liu-yi (伍六一):
- The deputy squad leader of the 3rd Squad, the renowned best performer of the Company. He was unfriendly and untrusting to Sanduo at beginning due to the latter's extreme clumsiness in boot camp (he was the impatient, frustrated drill officer), but accepted Sanduo when Sanduo proved his abilities. He participated in the elite force selection contest along with Sanduo and Cheng Cai but forfeited after a bad leg injury caused him to become a liability for Sanduo, who insisted to carry him on the back. He released himself from the army after the contest.
- Zhang Yi (张译) as NCO (Class 3), Shi Jin (史今):
- The commander of the 3rd squad. He was the recruiter who drafted Sanduo into the boot camp after getting drunk and unable to tolerate the domestic violence which Sanduo received from his father when the initial request was rejected. He volunteered to transfer Sanduo to his squad despite frustration from Captain Gao. He is the one who often encourage Sanduo to prove himself. Before the 7th company was disbanded, he discharged from the army due to his age and a hand injury (caused by Sanduo).
- Fan Lei (范雷) as NCO (Class 3) Ma (老马):
- The squad commander of the 5th Squad of the 3rd Company. He used to be a model commander who trained many distinguished soldiers like Shi Jin and Wu Liuyi, but deteriorated to a slacker from his disappointment after he was assigned to the 5th Squad, a remote, insignificant post on the grassland. He was surprised to see Sanduo's naivette and idealism. He "suggested" that Sanduo build a road in front of their barracks in the hope that this would wear out Sanduo's dedication. However, Sanduo surprised everyone by completing the road all by himself (sometimes enduring sabotage attempts by his fellow squad members), Lao Ma was inspired and reignited his sense of duty. He retired from the army not long after, receiving an (unexpected) honoring farewell from his former subordinates.
- A proud and demanding CO of the "Steel" 7th Company. He is the son of a high-ranking Corps CO but rejects any help from his family. However, he is clueless that much of his fame and achievements owes at least partially to his father's influence. He despises Sanduo as the "surrenderer" (due to an incident at the boot camp) and wanted to kick him out from the very beginning but did not do so at Shi's request. After the company split, he had a tough time accepting the reality, but he eventually accepted Sanduo after the latter remained more dedicated to the duty than he ever does. He was later transferred to the reconnaissance battalion in the same division as deputy commander and was promoted to the rank of Major. He later helped to cure Sanduo's depression from the drug-bust incident. He was the primary opponent of "Unit A" in the final war game.
- Leader of the "Unit A" special ops. During the first battle simulation, Yuan's detachment (serving as the aggressor) dealt significant casualties to 7th Company, with himself single-handedly taking out several of 7th Company's top troopers, including Cheng Cai. However, upon withdrawal he was pursued and captured by Sanduo due to the latter's dogged determination. Impressed, Yuan personally invited Sanduo twice to join his unit, eventually convincing him to participate in a selection contest. He was seen as having an exceptional appreciation of Sanduo's qualities, and supported Sanduo through his period of personal and family difficulties. He fired Cheng Cai from the final round of Unit A's selection process because of the lack of teamwork spirit, but eventually accepted Cheng Cai after the latter changed his personal traits.
- A fellow "Unit A" recruit, he is one of Xu Sanduo's best friends in the detachment. Wu is a distinguished marine officer, graduated with honors from college, and holds double bachelor degrees in military philosophy and language and a master degree in Optoelectronics. Wu, along with an arrogant elite paratrooper named Tuo Yonggang, share the same living quarter with Sanduo and Cheng Cai during Unit A's drill camp. Though he is the highest-ranking officer after Yuan Lang, he is very easy-going and befriends almost everybody. Silently enduring the intentional abuse of trainers from the Unit A, he openly trashed Yuan Lang's training strategy during Unit A's final selection panel assessment, and he threatened to file a misconduct report to the Chief Headquarters. However, Yuan saw the strength in his devotion to his team mates, and thus still offered Wu a spot in his unit and welcomed his challenge. During the final war simulation with Gao's men, Wu is a valuable member of Yuan's 4-man squad (Yuan, Wu, Sanduo, and Cheng Cai) and is in charge of hacking/information warfare.
- Gao Feng (高峰) as Captain, Qi, Huan (齐桓):
- A member of "Unit A" and the trainer for the entry training. He was involved in the entry exercise for Unit A and later the training process (where he was in charge of deducting points from recruits as well as keeping order). He is nicknamed "the cleaver" ("coffin nail" in the book) due to his cold manner, attitude, and voice (often scolding the new recruits as "stinky pumpkins"), as well as his "point-book" (when all 100 points of a trainee are deducted, that candidate is eliminated from the training process). After the first major exercise which he, two other members from the Unit A, and Sanduo took part, his cold attitude and manner disappeared (as it was a façade to provoke the candidates into pushing themselves) and befriended Wu and Xu Sanduo as a fellow team member, and volunteer to share a living quarter with him.
- Li Bo (李博) as Private Gan Xiaoning (甘小宁):
- A soldier of the 7th Company and a friend of Sanduo, he entered the Selection exercise for Unit A but forfeited by a suicidal attack at the "enemy" because he could not bear his hunger.
- Zuo Tengyun (左腾云) as Private Bai Tiejun (白铁军):
- A soldier of the 7th Company, he is one of the playful members of the Company and frequently made humorous jokes. He left the army prior to the splitting up of the Company.
- Li Liang (李梁) as Private Ma Xiaoshuai (马小帅):
- A relatively new squad member of the 7th Company, he had joined the 7th Company few weeks before it was disbanded. He joined the selection process for the Unit A, but he forfeited despite being given a chance to carry on due to his strong adherence to the rules.
In the beginning, Xu Sanduo was a shy village boy. He used to be bullied by almost every one in his small village. Sanduo's father was disappointed at him for being weak and made Sanduo through cursing and beating.
One day, Shi Jin, a Non-Commissioned Officer from the People's Liberation Army, appeared in Sanduo's village as a recruiting officer. Under the sincere request by Sanduo's father, Shi Jin accepted Sanduo to give him a chance to change. Shi Jin also recruited Cheng Cai, so Xu Sanduo and Cheng Cai went to the boot camp together.
In the boot camp, Sanduo's performance was terrible and he was immature. Sanduo's poor performance made his squad become the worst one in the boot camp. Captain Gao, the commanding officer of the 7th Company of Regiment 702 and the course officer of the boot camp, did not like Sanduo. Also, NCO Wu Liuyi, an elite soldier and the second in command of Sanduo's squad, tried his best to train Sanduo but ended in disappointment. Sanduo and Cheng Cai became friends in the boot camp even though Cheng Cai used to bully Sanduo back in the village they were from.
Sanduo completed his training in the boot camp and was dispatched to the 5th Squad of the 3rd Company of Regiment 702, a squad stationed at a desolate fuel outpost. Although Shi Jin, the recruiter, attempted to take Sanduo to his own squad, but was disapproved by Capt. Gao.
Cheng Cai, the other boy who was enlisted together with Sanduo, was sent to the 7th Company (as known as "the Steel 7th Company" due to its highly decorated history). That was because the boot camp's course officer, Gao, appointed few top trainees for his own company, and Cheng Cai was one of them.
The base of the 5th Squad was located on a remote grassland, so the members (including their squad leader, NCO Ma) felt that they were a "forsaken team" and lost their discipline. They felt uncomfortable when Sanduo kept maintaining his discipline that he had learned from the boot camp. Sanduo kept his routine physical exercises and drills even there was no supervision in the desolated 5th Squad.
The soldiers of the 5th Squad wanted Sanduo to be out of their sight and told him to do anything he wanted but not to bother them. Ma gave Sanduo an idea of building a pathway between the barrack and the post of the 5th Squad, where there were no pedestrian roads. Sanduo's effort initially looked funny to the other soldiers, but later they were all moved by Sanduo's attitude, energy, and persistence. They eventually joined in the building of the roads with rocks and made a red star in the intersection. Their effort was spotted by a military helicopter and caught some attention from the headquarters of Regiment 702.
One day, Zhang, a military journalist from Regiment 702, was sent to interview the 5th Squad. Ma told Zhang the story about Sanduo, and Zhang told the Commanding Officer of Regiment 702 Sanduo's story when he went back to the headquarters.
The Regiment's CO, Colonel Wang, was surprised at the story and arranged a meeting with Sanduo. Col. Wang asked Sanduo to talk about himself, but Sanduo was nervous and speechless.
In the colonel's office, a Type 90 armored personnel carrier model caught Sanduo's eyes. Wang noticed that and told Sanduo that he would give him the APC model if Sanduo did something meaningful. Also, the regiment leader decided to send Sanduo to the motorized infantry company - Steel 7th Company.
Gao refused to accept Sanduo to his company, but Shi Jin, who recruited Sanduo to the boot camp, convinced Gao to give Sanduo a chance. Finally, Gao agreed reluctantly.
During their training, Sanduo felt motion sickness when he and his teammates were riding on a real APC. It made Captain Gao outraged, so Sanduo tried hard to overcome this weakness until Gao recognized Sanduo's efforts.
A newly founded SOF unit, A-Unit, participated in a military exercise with Regiment 702 as the opposing force. During the battle, Cheng Cai showed his talent in marksmanship. Also, Sanduo captured Lieutenant Colonel Yuan, the leader of "Unit A". Sanduo could not have done so without the exercises he had on his own.
After that exercise, Cheng Cai thought that there were too many competitors in the 7th Company and decided to be transferred to the 3rd Company for easier chance of promotion. His decision and action shocked the squad and hurt Gao who always liked him.
Unfortunately, after over a year with Sanduo in his squad, Shi Jin, now a Class 3 NCO, had to be released because the duration of his contract of service had exceeded that in the regulations of PLA. Moreover, his degradation of performance was another reason for his discharge.
Shi was honorably discharged from the army. Sanduo did not want letting Shi go. Shi's right-hand man and best friend, Liu-yi, felt that Sanduo occupied too much time of Shi Jin in the training and caused his discharge. Liu-yi became more hostile toward Sanduo.
Gao wanted Sanduo to learn more and grow up, so he made Sanduo to take Shi's place. Sanduo became the acting squad leader of the 3rd Squad, although his rank didn't change.
The entire PLA was undergoing a reform for the new era of warfare in order to improve combat efficiency. The entire Regiment 702 was ordered to be set as an example to the rest of the T-Division.
The 7th Company had all the best soldiers in the Regiment 702 (which had caused an uneven distribution of force as a whole), so they were ordered to be reorganised, which means to give up their resources, to re-dispatch their personnel, and to disband. All of men in the company were dispatched to other units; however, Sanduo and Gao had to stay and guard their empty barrack and equipment.
Gao was heartbroken when the last platoon of the 7th Company left.
Sanduo kept the barrack clean and continued training by himself as he did in the 5th Squad of 3rd Company. Day by day, Gao was moved by Sanduo's positive attitude and tenacity because he had always looked down upon San-duo before.
Sanduo and Gao were chosen to stay for special reasons. One day, an order from the high-up was sent to Col. Wang to promote Gao as the Division Recon Battalion Second In Command. Gao was then promoted to the rank of Major.
Before Gao moved to his new position, he confessed to Wang that he underestimated Sanduo and said: "...he (Sanduo) takes everything as a life saver, things that everybody else ignores and things that are as minuscule as grass. He is now grown up. I now realize that whatever he grasped wasn't grass, but a tree as high as the sky." He proposed to take Sanduo with him, but Wang did not approve.
Gao accepted Sanduo as one of his most trusted soldiers.
Liu-yi (the best of the former Steel 7 Company and most respected man by Gao) was asked to visit Sanduo by Gao's demand because Sanduo is the only one who was left behind to guard the empty barracks of the 7th company.
Liu-yi found that Sanduo was confused about his future. Sanduo told Liu-yi that the human resources department told him that he will be promoted to NCO if he extend his service contract, but his father asked him to go home. He was unable to make the decision. Liu-yi helped Sanduo to find out what he wants. Then, Liu-yi helped him to tell his father that it was better to let him stay in the army. Sanduo was promoted to Class 1 NCO for extend his service period in the army.
One day, a colonel, the CO of A-Unit, came to Col. Wang's office and wanted to pick some soldiers through a screening process.
Gao came, too and saw that Liu-yi wasn't in the best condition. Sanduo told Gao that Liu-yi's back pain was bothering him, so Gao gave Liu-yi a bottle of medicine to relief his back pain.
When Sanduo went back to his room during a break, he was sneaked and jumped by a man he knew - Lieutenant Colonel Yuan Lang. He told Sanduo that his team is looking for new members. Yuan invited Sanduo to participate the test that Unit A set up, he claimed that he only wants the first three of the candidates from the contest.
There a lot of soldiers eager to participate the contest. The contest was conduct by both Yuan's men from the Unit A and Gao's men from reconnaissance battalion. During the contest, Sanduo teamed up with Cheng Cai. Many ex-members of the 7th company still regarded Cheng Cai as a betrayer, but they let Cai come with them anyway.
The contest was not easy: in 72 hours, the candidates had to steal a map from a heavy fortified camp site that guarded by Yuan's men. They also had to avoid being arrest by Gao's patrols. A lot of candidates even cannot "survive" more than 10 seconds from the start due to "heavy fire" from both Yuan's and Gao's men's sniping posts, but Sanduo's team overcame the difficulties and got the map. Liu-yi injured his leg in the contest at the very last moment, so Sanduo carried him while Cheng Cai provide fire cover. They were rushing to the finish line, but Sanduo had not enough stamina to dash for finish while carrying Liu-yi. They saw a candidate reached the line, and that mean only two vacancies left. Cheng-cai began to run to the line because there are few teams in the sight and they may take the places. Liu-yi thought that it was meaningless to carry him to the finish line and forced himself to quit because he didn't want Sanduo to carry him while other competitors were catching up. San-duo left Liuyi to Yuan's medics to reach the line after Cheng Cai. At the end of the contest, Sanduo, Cheng Cai, and the third man (who did not join Unit A after the contest) were the only few candidates able to reach the finish line.
Sanduo blamed Cheng Cai for abandoning Liu-yi in the last moment. Although from 7th-company, Cheng Cai did not follow the creed - "Never Abandon, Never Give Up"(不抛弃，不放弃). They later visited Liuyi in the hospital and overheard that Liuyi's leg won't fully recover.
Sanduo and Cai followed Yuan to the Unit A. Just before their departure, Wang gave Sanduo his APC model which caught Sanduo's eye during their meeting two years ago. When they arrived at the base of the Unit A, they are surprised all of the members are officers because they were the only two members with NCO's rank.
In the first day, they met fellow trainees and also their roommates Wu Zhe, a young Lieutenant Commander from the Navy, and a paratrooper named Tuo Yong-Gang. They became friends on the first day. The trainees were called by their numbers instead of names. Xu Sanduo was the last one - 42.
The selection process wasn't easy, and there were some candidates failing everyday. Tuo Yong-Gang was the first out because he challenged Yuan during in the fire range and lost on the bet where Yuan scored a 25/25 whereas the candidates only got 3 or 4 out of 25. Yuan cannot accepted a man with hot temper in his team. There were only 8 or 9 out of 42 made through the 3-month training, both Xu Sanduo and Cheng Cai were among them.
Although Yuan told the remaining candidates that they were accepted as a member of the Unit A, there was a final test ahead, but no one knew about it. One day, Yuan told them to get ready to deploy into a chemical factory to eliminate a group of terrorists who claimed to have weapons of mass destruction. The deployment became chaos and the candidates' team members were out of contact. All candidates believed that they were in a real situation.
Sanduo showed amazing abilities by sneaking into the location where the "weapons of mass destruction" were and "destroyed" it after he "lost" all of his teammates.
Wu Zhe saw some evidences showing that the operation wasn't real, but he still participated in it until he was "killed".
In other hands, Cheng Cai, the best trainee, gave up right after he thought his teammates were "died".
During evaluation, Yuan gave a heart-pound talk to Cheng Cai and revealing that Cai treats everyone else as his competitor and getting ahead was his only focus in life. Cai failed to recall the creed from "Steel" 7th Company when asked by Yuan Lang, and Cheng Cai was convinced that he had treated everyone in a "cold" way ever since enlisting. Yuan said, "To you (Cai), the 'Steel' 7th company is nothing more than a stop, you will move on when you find a better place if you later find another better stop, then the Unit A will be just another stop of yours. We can't go with comrades like you to the battlefield..."
Cai was dismissed and sent back to the 5th Squad of the 3rd Company of Regiment 702.
Sanduo knew that Cheng Cai loves sniping, but there was no sniper rifle issue for the 5th squad, so Sanduo bought a sniper rifle scope and gave it to Cheng Cai as a farewell gift.
The training with the Unit A continued day by day.
During an ambush against armed drug-smuggling groups, Sanduo killed a female drug smuggler. Sanduo felt guilty of it, and he could carry on his morale after returning to base. After hearing that Sanduo wanted to go back home, Yuan gave Sanduo a 30-day vacation to explore the world outside the forces before making the final decision. Yuan let Sanduo to have his own way to cure his inside pain.
Sanduo left his barrack and went to the cities. He changed clothes and tried to act as a normal civilian but he still caught the attention from people passing by. Sanduo realized that he is somewhat different from the people outside no matter how he acted, so he gave up, put back on his uniform, and went to his previous unit, Regiment 702, to visit his former comrades. Unfortunately, all his friends were transferred.(He didn't know that most of the ex-7th Company members were transferred and became Gao's men.)
Sanduo met the newly promoted Maj, the former Politruk of the 3rd Company. Sanduo later learned that Liu-yi was discharged after Sanduo and Cheng Cai went to the Unit A. The CO of the 1st Company, his neighbor, handed Sanduo a letter from Liu-yi while they were having dinner together.
Although Sanduo didn't talk much about his trauma after killing the smuggler. He soon realized that Sanduo needed to see someone to help him. He called Sanduo's former superior, Gao, possibly the only one able to talk him out of stress. Gao sent two ex-roommates of Sanduo to bring him over. Gao didn't say much when Sanduo arrived at his training site.
Gao told Sanduo that they were going to make a stop at Cheng Cai's barrack for the night. Cheng Cai impressed Gao's Recon Unit after beating them in a shooting contest with the Type-81 rifle (with Sanduo's scope taped on it) whereas Gao's men used the newest QBZ-95 rifle. After that, Cheng Cai met Gao who was still disappointed with him, but the two men got themselves straightened out after Cheng Cai admitted that he was wrong for leaving the "Steel" 7th Company.
Gao later shouted at Sanduo to motivate him. Sanduo was cheered up and decided to go back to A-Unit. Gao said that life is full of problems overlapped with other problems, and you can't be ready for all of them, so you might just move forward to solve them one by one along the way.
When they were talking, a bad news from Sanduo's family arrived. Sanduo learned that his home had an accident when his father got into trouble with some dynamite (for mining) that exploded and injure the neighbors. Sanduo went back to his home and saw that it was destroyed. His father was sent to jail, and his brothers could not see hope to restore their home. Sanduo had to seek help from the Unit A and borrowed RMB¥200,000 from almost every one in the base with the help of his CO Yuan Lang. Sanduo insisted on repaying his comrades with his salary over a period of 17 years although some members of the Unit A said there was no need to return the money.
Cheng Cai once again joined A-Unit after being recommended by Gao, but Yuan was upset because he had not found a single thing he appreciated in Cheng Cai. Sanduo tried to persuade Yuan and told him that Cheng Cai had changed and was no longer arrogant and self-oriented as before. Yuan gave Cheng Cai a chance in the end.
The story concluded in a training exercise called "Operation Silence" where Cheng Cai proved to Yuan that his is a worthy member of the Unit A after defeating Maj. Gao's team. Sanduo was happy to know that things were getting better for his friend.
There are no female characters in the series.