Operation: Special Warfare (2022) poster
8.1
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Ratings: 8.1/10 from 821 users
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Ranked #2020
Popularity #4617
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In order to defeat the latest in terrorist factions, a very elite unit is created of 14 of the most skilled young military personnel from around the country. The team is called "Blue Lightning Commandos" and are led by Captain Qin Guan, a no nonsense, tough-as-nails leader with a much softer interior and good heart. Though he doesn't show it all the time, he cares very much about his team and wants them to become the best of the best. He trains them hard, but with a focus on safety and learning to trust each other. Ning Meng is a super focused soldier who lost her brother in a terrorist attack, and joined to honor his memory and prove to everyone around her that she could be an elite just like him. Though she and Qin Guan butt heads in the beginning, with time and effort she gains his trust and the respect of her comrades-in-arms. Together they go through thick and thin, while playing cat and mouse with a group of terrorists hellbent on executing a horrible plan. In the midst of all of this, Qin Guan and Ning Meng find something totally unexpected on a battlefield- love. (Source: MyDramaList) Edit Translation

  • English
  • 中文(简体)
  • Русский
  • Español
  • Country: China
  • Type: Drama
  • Episodes: 35
  • Aired: Jan 18, 2022 - Feb 2, 2022
  • Aired On: Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday
  • Original Network: CCTV iQiyi Tencent Video
  • Duration: 45 min.
  • Score: 8.1 (scored by 821 users)
  • Ranked: #2020
  • Popularity: #4617
  • Content Rating: Not Yet Rated

Where to Watch Operation: Special Warfare

TencentVideo
Free (sub)
WeTV
Subscription (sub)
Viki
Free (sub)
TencentVideo
Free (sub)

Cast & Credits

Reviews

Completed
WandereR
28 people found this review helpful
Feb 2, 2022
35 of 35 episodes seen
Completed 18
Overall 8.5
Story 8.5
Acting/Cast 8.5
Music 8.5
Rewatch Value 8.0

Operation: Blue Lightning

Operation: Special Warfare is a co-production between CCTV, Penguin Films, Bona Films, Xiaoyao Films and Ram Films. This big budget production that involves extensive use of modern Chinese military hardware and facilities was filmed in Northwest China, including a segment at Taklamakan desert in Xinjiang.

Directed by Liu Ting and based on the original screenplay written by Duan Lian Min, himself a former member of the Chinese military, having served as a platoon commander. He has written many military-themed novels and screenplays as well as directed dramas and films of similar genre for which he has won numerous accolades. He is currently attached to the Political Department of the Chinese Navy serving as a director and screenwriter for military productions.

The drama follows the journey of young recruits of the newly-formed anti-terrorism special forces of the People’s Liberation Army, called the Blue Lightning. Central to the narrative is the growth of both the individuals and the collective as the new recruits come of age during their experiences of military training and real life combat situations.

As with any military-themed C-dramas, expect a fair amount of jingoistic propaganda and patriotic flag-waving which is par for the course when the production requires extensive support from the military and CCP during the filming process and to get the greenlight for distribution release. In addition to action and adventure, the drama features youth themes, slice-of-life elements and subtle hints of romance. There is some violence and gore but nothing too terrifying for viewers.

What I Enjoyed

Usually modern C-dramas tend to be lengthy with too much fillers. The military-themed ones are a hit or miss, case in point My Dear Guardian which turned out to be a little bit too fluffy for my liking. This one, however, manages to avoid all those pitfalls. It’s only 35 episodes in length instead of the usual 40+ episodes, doesn’t contain nearly as much fillers as most others though they are still present, and on the whole is more intensely dramatic rather than fluffy or comedic in its storytelling approach. Throughout the course of the drama, I did not really feel bored at any point in time because the drama surprisingly incorporates quite a number of interesting sub-plots and side stories to the main narrative at a very engaging pace, with a nice balance of action, drama, introspective and emotive moments.

This production showcases a number of modern military hardware in greater detail than I have ever encountered. How accurate or up to date they are, I have no idea, but I feel pretty convinced. For the most part, based on my little research, the depiction is consistent with the standard equipment used, such as the QBZ-95 (or Type 95) automatic assault rifles favoured by the PLA as well as their commando sub-units. Additionally viewers will get to observe countless UAVs and armoured ground vehicles on display in the drama, which I find quite fascinating.

In terms of the technical aspects, the action planning and choreography, as well as the special effects are worthy of mention. This drama showcases many action sequences involving firefights, explosions, as well as both armed and unarmed combat. These scenes are not confined to a single location but take place across multiple venues. One memorable segment features a suspenseful game of cat and mouse across the Taklamakan desert in the dead of night between the Blue Lightning unit and armed terrorists. I’ve also enjoyed the somewhat refreshing depiction of the military training comprising the so-called Devil’s Week competition, sniper competition and squad leader selection tests. That said, certain aspects of the training concerning “physical torture” do appear incredulous. I’m unaware of the authenticity but in a land that invented Shaolin martial arts, I guess anything is possible.

One of the major reasons for watching this drama is of course the cast, which is headlined by Vengo Gao who plays the Captain of the Blue Lightning, Qin Guan. If the drama is about the military, whether in a contemporary or historical context, you can count on this man to deliver an utterly convincing portrayal of the characterization. He not only looks and sounds the part, but his entire being exudes military commander vibes as well. There is absolutely no question whatsoever that without him, this drama would be lacking in so many ways. From the cold, stoic persona to the physical prowess in executing his stunts, Vengo totally slays his role.

Hu Bing Qing plays the FL Ning Meng, one of the young recruits of the new anti-terrorism team. My first time seeing her in entirety instead of previous guest appearances, I think she’s very talented and showcases strong performances particularly during her emotional scenes. I also quite like her nuanced take that helps inject a sense of vulnerability to humanise the role of a female soldier.

The drama’s soundtrack features 5 songs, with the patriotic opening theme being the most upbeat and energetic of them all. My personal favourite is the ending theme performed by Hu Bing Qing herself, the love ballad You and Me. Full listing as follows:

Flaming Lady 烈焰巾帼 - 金志文 Jin Zhiwen
Xiang Yang 向阳 - 黄霄雲 Huang Xiaoyun
You and Me 你和我 - 胡冰卿 Hu Bingqing
My Comrade 我的战友 - 钟强 Zhong Qiang
Fearless 无畏 - 王晰 Wang Xi

What Fell Short

I think the most glaring aspect would be the villains. We are never going to get a C-drama that depicts profoundly layered or morally grey terrorists, because the Chinese military and censors would never sanction it. As far as the powers that be are concerned, stories of this nature are straightforward - good guys versus bad guys are simply portrayed as black or white. Hence in this drama, in relation to the overarching plot concerning the terrorist organisation, S Group, the antagonists are merely written to be the stereotypical one-dimensional cardboard caricatures - bad-tempered, cold-blooded, power hungry and striving for world domination. The terrorist leader is even shown at one point chomping on cigars by the poolside surrounded by bikini-clad femme fatales where the only thing missing is a huge furry cat.

Final Thoughts

I would categorise Operation: Special Warfare as one of the more fascinating and well-produced mature military-themed dramas that I have seen recently. It’s the kind of show where viewers can enjoy with a relaxed mind and without the need to exercise too much brain cells. A final note though - do be forewarned, the subtitles available on WeTV are auto-translated (at the time of writing) and may not be of the usual high quality.

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Completed
Enigma05
27 people found this review helpful
Feb 3, 2022
35 of 35 episodes seen
Completed 2
Overall 7.5
Story 7.0
Acting/Cast 10
Music 10
Rewatch Value 1.0
This review may contain spoilers

Teamwork Makes the Dream Work

Was only interested in this drama for Vengo Gao, first time seeing him in an officer role and he didn't disappoint. This drama was modern military meets SWAT type of outfit and it definitely brought interesting things to the table.

Pros: Loved the team dynamic! Once they really learned how to trust each other, they were indispensable to each other. Yes, NM was not only the leader but the literal glue of the entire squad. I liked how she started at the bottom with maybe 2 friends and the captain wanting to boot her out for her own safety (really wanted to smack him for the amount of times he tried that), and each of the women who were against her, she wore them down with her intellect, honesty, and kindness. The men were a lot easier to deal with; once she beat most of them, they loved her lol.

The captain (VG) himself did very well as the gruff around the edges commander but one who was willing to protect his soldiers especially NM with his own life. Though what started originally as just him making a promise to her fallen brother and mom, ended up as legit feelings that grew between the two of them. This wasn't a military romance, but it was dispersed subtly which was just fine. The ending scenes in the hospital were too funny for words as literally everyone knew by then that the leads cared deeply for each other, so were willing to bust their chops a bit.

All the supporting cast of Blue Lightening Commandos were wonderful and when watching the BTS, they were really all about helping each other succeed even getting hurt in real life doing the stuff they had to do; not to mention acting like total goofballs, which always makes for fun scenes. There wasn't a character that I felt didn't belong from the team or the instructors or even the lead commanders as annoying as their speeches were sometimes. The OSTs were great and powerful for the series and fit just right. I hope this cast gets to work together again on something different, they had terrific chemistry.

Cons: The largest problem were the antagonists, if you can call them that. These buffoons couldn't make a plan stick if it was glued to them. The desert scene, the million other botched attempts. I really got the feeling that the writer had no real idea how to write bad people well especially terrorists. It honestly wouldn't have mattered if they made them invisible and just created a series out of high functioning drills. And what made it even more ridiculous was that the boss lady was the biggest badass; she had nearly immortal strength to take on both leads in high heels (and Vengo Gao is 6'3) and still manage to get the upper hand multiple times, flinging them around the room and shooting and stabbing them. I was legit laughing throughout that whole play by play because of just how unrealistic it was. You got two of the top notch people who's heads you broke bricks over, no problem, but a woman with high heels used them as rag dolls.

The propaganda was through the roof in this one and there were times that it just didn't make sense in many scenes; like when someone was on the verge of dying to get to their core strength, think about the flag and country. Or even for the original handling of NM's PTSD, if she thought about the flag and country, she'll be miraculously cured. Nope, not how it works. The zillion lectures by the commanders that always painted their country as the best in the world, made you roll your eyes. There's a time and place for everything and when you overdo it in scenes that require finesse instead, it takes away from the gravitas of the scene.

Pretty much everyone has mentioned the whole brick breaking over the head thing. And maybe it is done but not suddenly and probably not a dozen in one go. No human skull can withstand that kind of punishment without detrimental consequences and long term ones. The whole trying to portray these human beings as robotic super soldiers, didn't favor the series. Was very unrealistic and unbelievable. Also wish they started bringing in people who could speak English better as foreigners because they get over-dubbed anyway and many times how their lips moved didn't match what was being said. A bunch of loopholes were left untouched and unexplained, I'm guessing the audience was just supposed to forget them.

Would I recommend? If you like great teamwork, real friendships, are a fan of Vengo Gao (he's great in this series), and are into military/SWAT dramas, then this one is for you. Just be aware that the antagonists suck and the WETV app subs are auto-generated so some concentration to understand what's being said is required.

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Details

  • Drama: Operation: Special Warfare
  • Country: China
  • Episodes: 35
  • Aired: Jan 18, 2022 - Feb 2, 2022
  • Aired On: Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday
  • Original Network: CCTV, iQiyi, Tencent Video
  • Duration: 45 min.
  • Content Rating: Not Yet Rated

Statistics

  • Score: 8.1 (scored by 821 users)
  • Ranked: #2020
  • Popularity: #4617
  • Watchers: 2,572

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