Fighting 'dream criminals' in HBO Asia's first sci-fi series Dream Raider

Teng Yong Ping
·Lifestyle Editor
·3-min read
(Left to right) Weber Yang, Ellen Wu and Jason Wang in HBO Asia's Dream Raider. (Photo: HBO Asia)
(Left to right) Weber Yang, Ellen Wu and Jason Wang in HBO Asia's Dream Raider. (Photo: HBO Asia)

HBO Asia’s first original science fiction series, Dream Raider, will premiere this Sunday (16 August).

HBO describes the show as such: “A series of mind-boggling crimes forces a hard-nosed detective to seek help from a disgraced professor, who is 10 years into a prison sentence, and his estranged daughter who is also an expert in neural engineering. As their mysterious foe claims more victims, the trio must overcome their differences and step foot where no man has gone before – the human mind.”

Dream Raider, HBO Asia’s first sci-fi series, is an eight-episode hour-long Mandarin-language series starring Taiwanese actors Vivian Hsu, David Wang, Jason Wang, Weber Yang and Ellen Wu.

The China-Taiwan co-production also stars Wu Ke Xi, Jun Kunimura, Aggie Hsieh, Garfield Chung, and Bella Wu.

The series was executive produced by Hong Kong filmmaker Soi Cheang, who was brought in for his visual effects expertise – he was the director of the recent blockbuster series of Monkey King films.

The concept of the show sounds a lot like Christopher Nolan’s Hollywood blockbuster film Inception, which also dealt with a group of criminals who entered people’s dreams and consciousness.

Weber Yang, who plays a police detective, said at a virtual press interview on Thursday (13 August) that comparisons to Inception were inevitable, but Dream Raider was a uniquely Asian production.

Speaking in Mandarin, Yang said, “There are a lot of themes and human drama within the eight episodes. Every episode is like a mini movie... We’re not just competing in terms of special effects.”

(From left to right) David Wang, Vivian Hsu and Jason Wang star as three scientists in HBO Asia's "Dream Raiders". (Photo: HBO Asia)
(From left to right) David Wang, Vivian Hsu and Jason Wang star as three scientists who study human consciousness. (Photo: HBO Asia)

There are a lot of special effects in the show, however, said Ellen Wu, who plays an expert in human consciousness and quantum mechanics – mainly to portray the surreal dreamscapes inside human minds and the monsters that lurk within.

Wu said she watched behind-the-scenes YouTube videos about other big-budget shows such as Westworld and the Harry Potter movies to learn how actors tackled the challenge of acting in special effects-heavy productions.

“I was very happy when I received this role in Dream Raider,” said Wu. “I could finally be a ‘Hollywood’ actor!”

Fans of cast members Jason Wang, Weber Yang and Ellen Wu can interact with the actors on HBO Asia’s Facebook page live at 8.30pm before the show premiers at 9pm. The first episode of the series will be streamed on Facebook, followed by a Q&A session with the stars after the show at 10pm.

HBO Asia, an offshoot of its parent network HBO, has been producing original content for Asian audiences by collaborating with regional storytellers and filmmakers. Besides its traditional English content, the network has in recent years made Mandarin series which perform well in the Asian region. These include the recently premiered Workers starring Christopher Lee, as well as award-winning series The Teenage Psychic and The World Between Us.

Dream Raider premieres this Sunday, 16 August, at 9pm on HBO GO and HBO.