A young woman born from one of the Eight Banners family marries the Emperor. After surviving through many murderous scandals and betrayals, she prevails as the most powerful woman in the ... See full summary »
An unfavoured child of a rich family, Ming Lan studies and works hard, and falls in love with the son of a high official. Through cunning schemes, they both rise in position and work to obtain justice from those that have wronged them.
A street girl, Xiao Yan Zi, in a mix-up ends up as a Princess (officially titled Huan Zhu Ge Ge) instead of her sworn sister (played by Ruby Lin). The adventures continue as Xiao Yan Zi ... See full summary »
The Yongzheng emperor in reality only ruled for 12 years See more »
At the temple, Zhen Huan performs regular hard labour of chopping wood, carrying water, scrubbing floors and doing laundry. Yet her fingernails remain long and perfectly manicured throughout. See more »
Exotic and exciting! P.S. Beware of the plum soup!
This series is a kind of Chinese equivalent of Tudors which is one of my favorite historic TV series. There is much common with Tudors: most of the story plays out in the Emperors court that is full of intrigues, plots and beautiful women. Also it falls largely into the similar sort of era: 17th century if I understand correctly,Henry's life was a bit earlier but not too much.
Also the Emperor is similar sort of fella to our Henry: right old moron, serial wife killer and a sociopath. And the directors/script writers take is the same: they are creating a believable historic world but are not too worried to follow every historic fact to the dot. The story is loosely based on some real peoples lives but obviously a lot of artistic freedom is taken to create this story.
There is a lot to love about this series: it is really well written and directed and it never gets dull. The scriptwriter surely knows how to create cliff hangers and keep the audiences on their toes. The Chinese people are known to be very medicoulos in everything throughout the history and the director proves that: he firmly guides his massive amount of main and side characters through vast amounts of plot twists and still manages to remember the character continuity details for each one of them.
What I also liked very much, the character development is as deep as in a feature movie. Often in series characters remain sketch-like whilst here the director digs deep into the human depth with all the main ladies. Also the character development is very thorough and well planned, revealing layer by layer every ones true nature (Empress, Consort Hua, Lady Cao) or character changes (Zhen Huang).
It would have been very easy just to show these women as evil scheming bitches, but the director shows the depth of human tragedy how they were caught up in the evil infrastructure where they often had no choice as to resort to evil methods to survive. Every important characters personal story is revealed layer by layer and how they came to the point where they were in the story.
What I found particularly fascinating was all the customs and rituals of the palace. It seems that a lot of historical research had gone into that production. I doubted if they really dressed and behaved in such peculiar ways, such as women wearing these long finger extentions for example. So I did some research online. And indeed, at these times aristocratic women wore those weird things, as sign that they did not have to work. They were common accessories.
I found it very amusing how they all offered each other bowls of soups, teas and medicines all the time, half of them poisoned or laced with something very harmful - either making you infertile, destroying your voice, infecting you with plague. A lethal plum soup was funniest.
Everyone in the palace was busy sending each other medicines, teas, fabrics, jewellery, fragrances, pot plants, precious stones, incense, all of them meant to manipulate the target one way or other.
Killing each other off in most brutal ways was also common place in palace, and almost in every episode a person is beaten to death either on order of Emperor or other high standing person. The concubines and female servants are beaten to death at the same rate as male subjects.
As for the weaknesses of the series,the weakest link in the whole story is the actor who plays the Emperor. Where did they get him from? They have the whole China to choose from,why did they choose him???? The female leads tear the screen apart like she-wolves but he is like out of amateur theatre.
He is so wooden. He simply delivers the lines and that's about it. He has no emotions, no reactions and no concept of his character. Now and then, on the orders of the director apparently, he throws a bowl on the floor to show he is angry. On his death bed he rolls his eyes left and right a few times. That's it! And he was not good-looking either, so there was nothing to compensate his boring and dull presence. This actor really annoyed the hell out of me.
In a way, he reflects the principle of the society that is portrayed in the series: the female actresses work so hard to create exciting characters and he is just sitting there like a Muppet, has not put any effort into his character, yet holds a lead role in major TV series.
But in spite of disappointing Emperor, it is still very exciting series. And I very much recommend to watch the original 76 episodes, not the 6 part short version. There are so many story lines and details and 6 part version is not doing justice to this exciting 76 episode series.
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