A Lawyer Has a Very Bad Day

A top criminal defense lawyer went to a former prosecutor’s apartment, got into a drunken fight, and killed him. Panicking, the lawyer stuffed the body into a large suitcase, intending to drive to a remote location and dump it. However, he remembered that the city was in the middle of a campaign against drunk driving, and he would likely be stopped by the police. Instead, he called a cab and manhandled the large suitcase into the trunk. But the cab driver got into a fender-bender accident and called the police. The lawyer grabbed his suitcase and dragged it to a mass transit station. The security guards there insisted on checking his suitcase. The lawyer, panicking more than ever, told them not to touch the case since it was a bomb. He was arrested, the bomb squad was called, the body was found, and the lawyer confessed.

That seems fairly open & shut – not much basis for a TV drama there. But that is just the beginning of the 2020 Chinese crime drama “The Long Night”. When the lawyer appeared in court, he withdrew his confession – he admitted moving the body, but proved he had been in a different city at the time of the victim’s death. Then a pretty female journalist got an anonymous tip that someone would set off explosions in the city unless the mystery of the former prosecutor’s death was resolved quickly. That sent an attractive female police captain and her team scrambling to investigate the former prosecutor’s life; they called in the city’s top investigator, known for his idiosyncratic approach.

They found the former prosecutor had ruined his career and his life because of an obsession with a case that had happened 10 years earlier in a remote village. A popular young volunteer teacher had reportedly raped a woman and then committed suicide. The former prosecutor had concluded the official report was a cover-up, and had tried to re-investigate the case – but ran into an impenetrable wall of lies, threats, and high-level corruption … all while the body count related to the incident steadily rose.

This complex plot makes for a taut drama with fine performances from all the principal actors. Much of the story revolves around the motivations of the various characters, whether to do the right thing (and bear the consequences) or to look the other way. Some of the violence happens off-screen, which only adds to the intense sense of looming threat.

This dark 12-episode drama (~45 minutes per) is part of the “Light On” series which aimed to bring some better stories to the Chinese screen, mostly based on successful novels – and with this entry, the producers certainly succeeded. It has received very high ratings from audiences … deservedly so, I think.

It may be noteworthy that the story’s “present day” is set in 2010, while the decade-old original tragedy happened in 2000; perhaps those dates were chosen to avoid setting official corruption in the current President Xi Jinping-era? The serial features interesting insights into China’s legal system, and many scenes of Chinese people doing what they love most – sharing a meal.

It is well worth watching, though the audience needs to stay alert as the story jumps backwards and forwards over the preceding decade.


John would have loved this!


I am sure this kind of high quality programming is available in whichever Heaven John finds himself. Otherwise, it would not be Heaven! :grinning: