Adapted from Qian Zhongshu's famous novel, Fortress Besieged (Wei Cheng) is arguably the best Chinese TV series portraying Chinese intellectuals, but the popular television series directed by Huang Shuqin, starring Chen Daoming, Lu Liping, Li Yuanyuan, Ge You, Ying Da. It is a comedy, a tragedy, a love story, a satire, and above all, a masterpiece.
Set in the 1930s it follows the misadventures of Fang Hung-chien (Fang Hongjian), a bumbling everyman who wastes his time studying abroad, and secures a fake degree when learning he has run out of money and must return home to China. Fang was the son of a country gentleman. A marriage had been arranged for him while at university, but the intended wife died before he could see her.
The year was 1937, and Fang was returning to China from Europe. On the boat home, where Fang courts two young ladies. One fellow traveler was Miss Su, in her late 20s. She is quite pretty in a thin and pallid style, but her choosy attitude towards men means she is still unattached and getting slightly desperate. Another young lady on board was Miss Bao, who tended towards the tanned and voluptuous. Fang pursued Miss Bao with some success during the voyage. However, when the boat reached Hong Kong, Miss Bao disembarked into the embrace of her fiancee, a middle-aged, balding doctor, and Fang realized he had been used.
Fang then became more intimate with Miss Su. However, after they disembarked at Shanghai, Fang became occupied with finding a job, and attending matchmaking sessions arranged by his parents and former in-laws. After one failed attempt, Fang decided to contact Miss Su. While visiting her he also met her cousin, Miss Tang, and Miss Su's suitor, Zhao Xinmei. He found a teaching job at a new university in the upcountry where he met his would-be wife, Sun Roujia. He was married with Sun in Shanghai after leaving the school because of discrimination. But the couple lived unhappy. It is his disastrous marriage. At the end his wife left him, while he listened to a clock chiming.
Marriage is like a fortress besieged: those who are outside want to get in, and those who are inside want to get out.