Online broadcasting of a Chinese war drama has been suspended amid controversy over its idol-centered presentation of war scenes, for example military headquarters being located in a splendid villa, and a military officer smoking a cigar, which were criticized as being too far from historical facts. 
The drama, named Drawing Sword 3: The Lightning General and set in the time of the War of Resistance against Japanese Aggression (1931-45), was aired by MangoTV, IQIYI and Tencent Video platforms starting on November 3. 
Screenshots of the drama circulating online show that nurses of the Eighth Route Army were wearing form-fitting dresses. Also, an Eighth Route Army regiment headquarters was set in a villa, and soldiers were wearing new and clean uniforms as well as hair wax; and a military officer of the National Revolutionary Army led by the Kuomintang was shown smoking a cigar during battle. 
Nine episodes were to have been released, but the Global Times reporter searched for the drama on Tencent Video on Monday and found that the episodes had all been removed without any explanation. It was also pulled from IQIYI, and unavailable on MangoTV.
Photo: screenshot of Weibo
Before the removal, Chinese netizens had flooded social media platforms with criticism of the drama, saying it seriously distorted the facts and misguided the young generation. They also posted photos showing Eighth Route Army soldiers living in cave dwellings and nurses wearing plain military uniforms to prove how ridiculous the drama was.    
The People's Daily released a commentary on the drama, saying that the drama is a ridiculous one of its genre - under the cover of resisting Japanese aggression was an idol-centered drama for the young. 
The drama aimed to attract a young audience, and because of this, it should respect facts and history to avoid misguiding youngsters, said the commentary. 
Amid the controversy, the production team issued a statement on Monday evening, insisting that they have referred to abundant historical materials and interviewed many veterans before creating the show. 
The drama is intended to use new angles and elegant scenes to introduce the war history to young people, read the statement, which also explained that cigar was widely consumed at that time.
Clothes remaining clean amid the flames of war and neat hair amid a rain of bullets… these scenes are too ridiculous, Shi Wenxue, a Beijing-based film critic, told the Global Times on Monday. Shi noted that such an appearance is more typical of a Hollywood hero than a Chinese soldier in a war meant to safeguard the homeland and resist aggression. 
Many young people participated and sacrificed in that war, and they are worth artistic portrayal and remembrance. But that should be based on respect for history. It is putting the cart before the horse if such a drama focuses on good-looking faces rather than the characters' courage, Shi said. 

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