The artistic charm of Beijing Opera is fascinating with distinguished performance and acting skills, while the hardship actors have suffered is rarely known to others.
This is just a story about three opera warriors with talent and fantastic acting skills in traditional Chinese opera—Beijing Opera, their life and death, their love and hatred, and their struggling and striving for the outstanding beauty on the stage.
The story, happening in the northern part of Republic of China, in the early of the 20th century, is about three young fellow apprentices of the same master, who play martial roles among the operatic players of male characters in a theatrical troupe. After having undergone professional training, they play different martial roles in Beijing Opera in the same theatrical troupe. And then their fate and destiny get to diverge: one getting shot by accident in order to protect his junior fellow, and one suffering disaster from love affair, which leads to the separation of three brothers. The youngest one, after having suffered much hardship and seemingly having come to the dead end, finds the right way out of difficulties and to the success with great determination and persistence.
The story goes to tell that life is just like a drama, full of ups and downs, and the world is so changeable that a loss may turn out to be a gain. With love and friendships, determination and persistence, success is in the near future.
During the late Qing Dynasty and the early years of the Republic of China, in a theatrical troupe, Xishun, in a town of north of China, a morning drill is going on.
The master is stern and serious, and all apprentices are hardworking. The master brother, with his stage name No.1 Wang, handsome and imposing, plays the part of martial role of Changkao. The second youngest brother, with the professional name Smart Wu, brilliant and vigorous, has the martial role of Duanda. The youngest brother, Heidou, acts the martial role of Piezi as clown, hardworking though not-well-gifted. Heidou and other apprentices amuse themselves learning to act in secret and are found by their master. According to the old way of the operatic circle, if having fun rather than practicing skills, all apprentices will be punished.
And the youngest brother, Heidou, hits upon love with his master’s daughter, Yan-er.
Several years later, the theatrical troupe Xishun is so popular that the theater is crowded with audience. One day, the warlord, together with his third wife, comes to the theater and encounters Yan-er, and a wicked idea comes into his mind.
The third wife of the warlord, used to be the lover of the second youngest brother No.1 Wang when being very young, is fascinated by the extremely miraculous performance of Baishan by him and cannot helping thinking of the love with him.
After the play comes to an end and the audience disperses, Heidou is still practicing hard while the date the second youngest brother is making with his lover, the third wife of the warlord, is found by his adjutant. The hidden danger is approaching…
The theater is full of audience and noises. The play Sasimen is on show and brings the house down with the adept acting and elegant bearing of Smart Wu in white. Suddenly comes a report of a gun, with bloodstain on the stage…
The warlord forces Yan-er, daughter of the master, to marry him, with the bridal sedan chair approaching the theater outside in the heavy snow. Shedding tears of blood, the master dismisses the troupe and commits his daughter, Yan-er, to his apprentice, Heidou’s care and all see the master off on their knees. After the separation between loved ones, where is the way out for the troupe and the actors?
The theater is there, standing in the cold. In grief, indignation and loneliness, the master brings an end to his career as an actor by hanging himself.
Several years later, though not giving up and keeping practicing his skill hard in martial roles, Heidou’s effort could hardly receives cheers. In despair, he has no choice but to live a wandering life in the wilderness, with only Yan-er and monkeys for company.
While seeing tame monkeys and wild monkeys are playing with each other and fighting over food, Heidou suddenly becomes enlightened. With hard thinking and remarkable diligence, he finally creates an unprecedented school of drama — vivid and mighty “Monkey King”.
The broad and profound essence of Beijing Opera has been inherited, fostered and enhanced, and develops and shines with greater brilliance.