Published on 07 Jun 2015 | about 1 year ago
Northern China, 1642. After almost 300 years, the Ming dynasty is on the verge of collapse. Rebel forces have surrounded Kaifeng, capital of Henan province, south of Beijing, but their attack on the city is temporarily beaten back. Field Marshal Sun Chuanting (Leon Dai), in prison in disgrace, is summoned by the Chongzhen Emperor (Yu Shaoqun) and given 500,000 troops to put down the rebellion, led by "Nomad King" Li Zicheng. Meanwhile, itinerant physician Wu Youke (Feng Yuanzheng) is tried for allegedly poisoning a patient with his unconventional treatment; the case is dismissed but the judge bans him from practising in his jurisdiction. On his way to Tongguan to visit a relative, Youke is forced by Ming troops to attend to the wounds of Li Tianyou (Sun Qiang), a disillusioned scholar who was en route to joining the rebels. Field Marshal Sun arrives in Tongguan with his wife (Feng Bo) and child, and is greeted by Commander He Renlong, who does not know that the former has come to kill him and his men for abandoning their posts. In Tongguan, Youke stays with his relative, Master Physician Zhao Chuan (Qian Xuege), who is told to treat the Ming soldiers when they mysteriously start falling ill. Meanwhile, Field Marshal Sun finds that Tongguan's grain supplies are seriously low, and kills the registrar for hiding the fact. In Kaifeng, Ming troops are now starving. And in Tongguan, Master Physician Zhao can't stop the spread of the epidemic among the soldiers. The rebels kidnap Youke to treat their troops, but Field Marshal Sun's troops rescue him. An understanding develops between the field marshal and Youke, whose unconventional medical theories are then put to the test.