UPDATES - 31.08.2012
Am still trying to write a review, long way to go.
Anyway been reading about Gong 2 (aka Palace II) and I sorta realise Yu Zheng is like HKTVB; take a book and change it dramatically like back to front and voila a new series. Read Palace II and tell me, isn't that Empresses In The Palace?
UPDATES - 16.07.2012
Finally I finished all 76 episodes. By the time this reached 50th episode, it was dragging but for the past 6 episodes, it was terribly slow paced. Anyway Empress dies of a heart attack in the end. Why she still thinks she can be empress dowager is beyond me. Emperor dies from poison plus slow poison plus more because Zhen Huan said things that eventually caused him to die of anger. BUT she did him right by exacting revenge on the empress which he couldn't do in his lifetime. She removes all traces of the empress from historical books and will have her buried as a concubine. I suppose that's why the empress suffered a heart attack. Meanwhile I thought she was kind when she let emperor to be buried with his beloved Chun Yuan. I do believe in her heart she once truly loved that bastard. 4th prince became emperor, she let 17th prince other son to be adopted by Zhen Beile whilst her own Hong Yan will be adopted by 17th prince posthumously and so Hong Yan finally can call his real dad, Ama whilst the new emperor need not worry competition to his throne since she ruled out Hong Yan. In the end she went to sleep. Did she die? Don't think so since she is so young. Probably another 30 more years to go before she will be buried with the man she hated. Oh and that arrogant Ning Pin killed herself. Why does she kill herself when her enemy is gone, she should live on happily. If she intends to accompany 17th prince in the afterlife, she need not bother. Already 2 women down there waiting in line.
Anyway I think I will write a review of this travesty to real history since I both love and hate it.
UPDATES - 16.07.2012
4 more episodes to go. Or is it 3? I lost count. This series is by now too long. But I am at a time for the past 3 episodes where this series is like a hell bent killing machine. 17th prince's wife died (poisoned), 17th prince died (suicide by poison but not that he has a choice) and finally his other wife, Huan Bi died (killed herself by the very dramatic running ahead and knocking head on anything hard). So many died. The Empress is now in cold palace and never to be seen again although I hope one last scene would be nice, her maid and eunuch probably dead as well. Dead, dead, dead. So many deaths. And I hate this emperor. Whilst I do not like 17th prince for cavorting with brother's wife and he and Zhen Huan should not look at each other longingly IN PUBLIC (so Zhen Huan is to be blamed for his death and he himself as well), the emperor's behaviour to his own stupid 3rd prince Hong Shi is so so strict. Anyway I am sure if 13th prince was alive and he dared look at Zhen Huan, he will die too. This emperor is depicted in such a way that even the real Yongzheng will go "TIAN AHHHHHH!!!! WEI SEM ME NI YAU WU MIE WOR!!!!!!"
But good news, some major kick ass performance by Sun Li in the scene where 17th prince died and she cried her heart out. Amazing performance and she should be Ruoxi.
UPDATES - 16.07.2012
Sigh! 8 episodes to go. So long! Anyway An Lingrong dies and before she killed herself she says to Zhen Huan she is sorry. And my view of her death? Pointless. Why? Because this is one pointless villain. She died because of her own stupidity. If she had aligned herself with Zhen Huan she wouldn't be dead. I just feel she is a failed villain. But the actress was rather good. Anyway the emperor did good; he allowed Zhen Huan's sister to marry I assume the 18th duke, or someone after 17th duke. Nice of him. And I was surprised at how pretty Huan Bi is as the ce fujin of 17th duke. Her make up and dress and all looks nice. So now Zhen Huan is completely controlling the entire harem. Oh and the empress dowager is finally dead. But she argued with the emperor before she died, classically because she wants Yongzheng to release 14th prince whom she NEVER mentioned until her death bed. Talk about backtracking!
Ok, next to die? 17th prince and then the emperor and so finally, THE END!
UPDATES - 12.07.2012
Thank you stupid trailer for telling me absolutely everything there is to know. I could see Huan Bi in white crying "My lordddddddddddd!!!!!!" which means 17th prince is dead. I see Zhen Huan looking at a depressed looking 17th prince so that means she was with him when he died. I see Yongzheng vomiting blood whilst Zhen Huan looks at him which means either she poisoned him or he basically died of anger. What a stupid trailer.
UPDATES - 12.07.2012
I think this series will be ending soon. I am like 60 plus episode and like I predicted since forever, Huan Bi just married 17th prince and another girl also married him. Poor 17th prince, marrying 2 women he does not love, at all. Huan Bi looks pretty in her wedding gown and 17th prince basically nominated her to run the household. She is not di fujin, she is like the other girl ce fujin and same status and she marries as Zhen Huan's 2nd sister, so she is of high status with more dowry and such. And first night 17th prince slept in her room BUT they didn't do anything. The other wife thought Huan Bi is the favoured wife when in actual fact 17th prince sleeping at Huan Bi is his way of avoiding to explain why he isn't having sex with that other wife. With Huan Bi it is easier; she knows why. I find the aspect where Huan Bi knows 17th prince doesn't love her but her sister Zhen Huan interesting. This is a very open sibling relationship. And very kind of Zhen Huan to agree to the wedding since she thought at least Huan Bi will marry the man she loves. Anyway right now the only possible happy couple is Shu Peisheng the head eunuch who got to marry the woman he loves, Jingxi whilst Jingxi truly love and admire Shu Peisheng despite the fact that he is an eunuch. However I am not liking Zhen Huan much in one scene where she said Dr Wen's castration will be a lesson to them and she was so afraid if it had been 17th prince. Well, to hell with the best friend who castrated himself for you YOU SELFISH ZHEN HUAN!!!! I already know how this will end. No feeling whatsoever since I am not a 17th prince-Zhen Huan shipper. I feel like rewatching Bu Bu Jing Xin. That is a love story I care about. At least you won't hear Ruoxi say she is glad it was 13th prince who got jailed and not 4th prince.
UPDATES - 10.07.2012
I think even the actor Chen Jianbin looks bored playing this very fickle minded emperor Yong Zheng. One second he is "I will protect you" and next second he grabs Zhen Huan's face and says "You dare to cheat on me?". Crazy guy. My sis said "Remember in Yong Zheng Wang Chao how Yongzheng was so disappointed to hear the public saying he is some sex crazed emperor, always flipping the name plates rather than govern well? This series is showing that exactly; as in him being sex crazed and all". True! True! If I were Zhen Huan I too will be disappointed. Doesn't mean I will cheat on him but I will not hesitate to walk away when he dies. Apparently he was rather good as Cao Cao in Romance of Three Kingdoms (one of those many versions). Here he is reduced to being that emperor who lusts and makes false promises. And to see all these women fighting, killing, dying for him. Lian Cheng, you got yourself a raw deal!!!
UPDATES - 09.07.2012
I feel like crying. Concubine Hui's death was so sad, but saddest was the fate of Doctor Wen who was earlier accused of having affair with Zhen Huan and fathering her twins. Empress! Wrong move! So he said to prove his innocence he castrated himself. He didn't die. Concubine Hui who was heavily pregnant was shocked to learn Zhen Huan was in deep shit so she gave birth earlier but she bled to death. Before her death she told Zhen Huan who her daughter's father is and she sadly asked Doctor Wen if he ever loved her and after some hesitation he said and this is so sad; "After that night (where they had a one night stand), I was good to you not just because of Huan Er (Zhen Huan). I wanted to be good to you. I am now a castrated man, no one can ever accuse our child, no one can now insult your memory by accusing us, I only now belong to you and we are at last together, even in your death, I am yours alone" and Concubine Hui cried and said weakly "I have never regretted all that I had done. The years I spent in this palace, until I have met you, it was all meaningless. Meeting you was the happiest day of my life and I can finally rest.. I am so tired.. but I am happy that I can lie on your shoulder like this, finally... and rest..." and she died. So sad!!! What happened after was also Sun Li's best acting performance yet, as she slowly walked away and then slowly increased her tears, not loudly but that sort that where she holds it in until she could no longer hold inside of her and she crumpled as she cried her heart out. Her only friend, her most trusted friend, dead. Even before her death she was worried about Zhen Huan. What a great friend. Concubine Hui is one of the best character in this series who doesn't have much to do and yet you can feel her presence by her loyalty and her sincerity to Zhen Huan.
Oh I hate that An Lingrong! She is so vindictive! She purposely let her maid tell Hui about Zhen Huan and she later said as she drank herself drunk "Sister (Hui), blame Zhen Huan. She was the cause of your death. Not me. And I am very happy; to see Zhen Huan miserable, makes my heart leap with joy".
Ahhhhhhh!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! So vindictive bitch!!!! I hate her!!
Anyway I feel more for Hui and Dr Wen than 17th prince and Zhen Huan. Poor Dr Wen. He is now an eunuch and a drunk because of disappointment. Now he wants to leave the palace and guard Hui's tomb for 3 years. This is silly! Who to protect Zhen Huan?! Who?!
Meanwhile Emperor is lusty again. I hope he ain't gonna force marriage on Zhen Huan's spunky sister. I still think Huan Bi will marry 17th prince. But the last episode I watched, the emperor seems suddenly keen on Huan Bi. Maybe he was just joking. Anyway I don't like the emperor at all now. I blame him for what happened to Dr Wen. If every Dr is to be accused of adultery with the concubines, why not castrate them all? Poor guy! And I don't get why the instigator, the stupid Concubine Qi would accuse Zhen Huan of adultery with Dr Wen, and I suspect based solely on the empress' encouragement and yet when she was found out, she took the blame on herself, leaving the empress blameless eventhough everyone knows who ordered her.
Just to be clear;
Zhen Huan's twin children are between her and 17th prince. Not Dr Wen. BUT Concubine Hui's daughter, Jing He is Dr Wen's child. It is also convenient Hui didn't give birth to a prince. Zhen Huan only knew of this on Hui's deathbed BUT Hui never knew the twins were not the Emperor's.
Ooooohhhhh I hate that An Lingrong! What's her problem anyway? She is still siding the one who lost power (empress), who refused to let her have a child and now is childless and made enemies with the ones who at first were her good friends. Stupid woman. BUT I must hand it to her that she will do ANYTHING to regain the emperor's favour, including making herself childless just so that she can lose weight and skate on ice, she took pills that contain musk and so ruins her chance at getting pregnant.
Oh yes, from this series I learn that saffron is bad for pregnancy BUT musk is worse. It will make you barren. I wonder is it true?
And did they have ice skating in Qing Dynasty? Oh doesn't matter. That ice skating scene was lovely, even if by bitch An Lingrong.
As for the empress, how stupid can she get to try and push Zhen Huan down when at last she got herself ruined? Why can't she just stay happy as her empress? I can tell you why. Like why Concubine Hua and countless others before her, this series hypothesizes that they did what they did because they're jealous. Not for power, but because of jealousy. They as in empress and Concubine Hua do love the emperor. Of course they also fear that by someone else taking over their place in the emperor's heart, they lose power. That may be true for Concubine Hua but for the empress, I would say deep down she is a deeply jealous woman. It is love that motivated her cruelty. But love is not An Lingrong's reason. She is worse. She is just vindictive.
UPDATES - 02.07.2012
After some searching I finally found a full review of this series with the entire story so SPOILERS ALERT although not much explained as to what and how something happened. Seems like the series is heading towards total and absolute mess. Anyway if you really wanna know, click here. Also found the cast list from there! Anyway cast list...
Liu Xue Hua as Empress Dowager
Chen Jian Bin as Emperor Yong Zhen
Ada Choi as Empress Yu Xi
Jiang Xin as Concubine Hua/Hus Fei/Nian Xing Lan
Li Dongxue as Prince of Guo/Duke of Guo/Guo Junwang/17th Prince
Betty Sun Li as Zhen Huan/Consort Huan/Imperial Noble Consort Xi
Lan Xi as Shen Mei Zhuang/Noble Lady Shen/Concubine Hui
Tao Xin Ran as An Ling Rong/Noble Lady An/Concubine An
Yang Zi Yan as Consort Jin
Zhang Yameng as Concubine Qi
Unknown as Consort Duan
Unknown as Noble Lady Cao
Zhang Xiaolong as Wen Shi Chu (Doctor Wen)
Lan Ying Ying as Huan Bi
Li Tianzhu as Su Peisheng
Liu Yitong as Song Zhi
Sun Qian as Jin Xi
Yang Kai Chun as Jian Qiu
Zhan ZhingYi as Liu Zhu
Unknown as Princess Wen Yi
Unknown as Princess Long Yue
Unknown as Prince Hongli
Unknown as Prince Hongyen
Unknown as Princess Lingxi
A concubine's ranking system from what I observe;
Daying > Chang zai > Gui Ren > Pin > Fei > Gui Fei > Huang Guifei > Empress
Confirmed here. Only in Qing dynasty.
UPDATES - 02.07.2012
I am at episode 50-ish and I feel since most of the female characters have already been introduced I might as well talk about some of them, right up until this point, for those I know their names and have their pictures.
FEMALE PERFORMANCESGenerally, I can't fault the performances. Why negative comments is because of the characters, not the performances.
Ada Choi as Empress
Of everyone in this series, I only know of 2 of the female actresses and one of them is of course Ada Choi who plays the empress who appears to be kindly but in actual fact is deadly woman who holds a grudge. I can't say her performance was fantastic since I know her voice is her biggest problem as an actress. Thankfully her voice is dubbed by a rather regal one and I can see from her mouth movements she in some scenes chose to speak her lines in Mandarin. The look is perfect. She does look like a benevolent empress, the way she would sit and smile serenely eventhough you know in her heart she is screaming with frustration. Taking away her very annoyingly high pitched voice whenever she screams allow me to fully appreciate her facial expressions, the nuances, that stare, that doubt, that look and that dubious smile. In that respect I feel she played the part of the very pretentious empress very well and it helps that the producers have chose to give such detailed attention to her hair, her costume, her make up. It also helps she is playing her age, at the start the Empress was already 40. It didn't feel forced. You can see the huge age difference between her and Betty Sun, in the sense one is obviously much older who at her prime must have been rather beautiful but now her beauty is or has already faded and the other much younger who is at her prime. The funny thing about Ada is her performance most requires her to sit down and not move much. I am glad to see those annoying habits often seen in TVB, with the head moving as much as the mouth is not seen here. It is like a different sort of acting here and I wonder why not adopt the same steady method when in TVB series? You can't say she lack emotion, one scene she was crying in frustration, even those scenes where she waited for the emperor to arrive shows her anguish as her "husband" chose to honour her but not love her as she wants him to love her. She has a huge role in this series, from the start and I suspect until the very end. So far, although I am amused by her most constant line in this series, "Chi lai ba" aka "You may rise" which she will say at least 2 times per episode in that dubbed voice of hers, I find her performance rather entertaining even if the writing for the empress has somewhat stalled right now. Fans of Ada Choi should watch this one; quite simply because this is not TVB and it is refreshing to see her play her age which makes her look rather beautiful rather than not playing her age and that would have been a disaster.
Most quoted line : You may rise (Chi lai ba)
Best scene : when she was crying out for her dead son during thunderstorm
Liu Xuehua as Empress Dowager
She is De Fei, Yong Zheng's mom who became the Empress Dowager when he ascended the throne. Her performance is even more limited than Ada. At least Ada gets to walk around. Whenever we see this empress dowager, she is either sitting down or lying down, since she is almost always sick or is being visited by someone else for whom she does not need to stand up for. Her role is an anomaly. She seems kindly; she prays daily and yet she has no regrets, none at all when deciding which concubine should die for the sake of the dynasty in her dead pan worried look kind of way. Frankly I didn't enjoy her performance. I find it limited, even now and very hypocritical. Maybe that's what the Empress Dowager should be I suppose but it just feels too one note.
Most quoted line : Chi lai, zuo (You may rise, and seat)
Best look : the one look, that worried look but she is always best at crying that one tear. She is famous for being able to cry beautifully and no one has dethrone her, yet
Betty Sun Li as Zhen Huan
Nice passport photo there! My sister said why wasn't she in Bu Bu Jing Xin? No doubt, she is one hell of an actress, especially in scenes that require her to cry with anguish or look innocent or evil. My only problem is her smiles seemed forced but then everyone's smiles in this series is forced due to circumstances. She looks young and she fits the role of Zhen Huan. One thing I like about Mainland China series is almost always the actresses fit the characters, almost. Her voice is dubbed with a voice I swear sounds like Ruby Lin's Ma Fuya. I also swear one scene I thought I heard her real voice because the China accent is a bit deeper but still sounds good. So why dub her voice in the first place? Her image from innocent to angry to frustrated and now conniving is the TVB method; the colour of her lipstick except she is much better actress than the horrendous 2 in that cursed series I refuse to name. She can dance; one scene had her dancing and it was graceful. She can act, in fact the only time she falters is because the script failed her, and that was when she met again the supposedly dead 17th prince, that lack of emotional punch. Other than that she and several of the actresses truly anchor this series and frankly I too agree; she would have made an amazing Ruoxi in Bu Bu Jing Xin.
Best scene : thus far, that scene where she had her first miscarriage and the look she gave Hua Fei was simply an outstanding moment of acting.
Lan Xi as Shen Meizhuang
I think that's her name since I got it from some online page. I have no idea who she is but of all the actresses in this series, she gives me the impression as the most elegant and sophisticated one. Her real voice is used and she has such a lovely accent and her voice is such a melodious voice. She also gives me an impression of someone very gentle and ladylike and mind you not many can give such an impression these days. Her performance is stellar. From her hopeful love to her sudden banishment to her anger at the emperor and her love for Dr Wen Shi Chu, I think she did very very well indeed. She may not be the prettiest but like the empress dowager, you sorta wish she is the empress because everything about her, despite her simple costume and weird loopsided headgear that god knows why the make up dept chose to stick it on her, she is a walking talking total sophisticated elegant woman.
Best scene : the way she looks at the emperor, where she can't hide the fact that she is very very disappointed in him
Jiang Xin as Concubine Hua
She has my vote as the prettiest concubine in this series and it shocked me to learn she is about the same age if not 1 year younger than Betty Sun! She looks mature for her age. She also happens to have the best headgear since she is supposed to be arrogant and flamboyant. From her performance you know that Concubine Hua is not someone highly educated and used her charm to achieve whatever she wants. She must also be very good in the art of seduction to have the emperor keep going back to her although her brother being Nian Gengyao may be another factor. Her real voice is used and I love her accent!! Ok, so her performance at first was more like looking at someone with this sneering look, which she perfected by the way or rolled her eyes dramatically or stared at someone she hates and all that, or the way she walks you can see how her bum sways in a way you know why the emperor is sorta crazy about her. There is nothing elegant or sophisticated about Concubine Hua and she knows it. This actress did not make Concubine Hua pretend to be elegant and all. She was eager to kill off her enemies and step on the others, even the empress. She also doesn't know when to shut her mouth and since I love her accent, I don't mind. To me Jiang Xin has the best character (very complicated woman - she loves the emperor deeply, she loves her brother deeply and yet she feels no qualm at killing off the emperor's unborn child when in the end she found out she can't have a child because of the emperor's own dastardly undoing), sometimes you can't help but pity her and yet you will hate her from her first appearance. After she died mid way through the series, Ada Choi had to take over the mantle as the villain but somehow Ada is missing something Jiang Xin has and I can only say a flair for flamboyance. My vote as the best performance in this series.
Best scene : The scene where she explained why she never wanted to be the one to wait for the emperor to come to her and resolved to do all she can to have him by her side
Status : Killed herself in the end. And she died on her own terms. She chose to bang her head against the wall rather than drink poison or hang herself and she decided to die because she had nothing more to live for when she found out the emperor's ultimate betrayal.
Tao Xinran as An Lingrong
I have nothing against the actress who portrayed her character well but I don't understand her character. I mean why is she in the middle of all the plotting, etc when she was a total nobody? I find her character kinda waste of space thus far and I hope she gets to do something even more evil than the empress let her do. As a villain, she fails. As a concubine, double fail. As a friend, triple fail. Looks wise, she looks the oldest. I don't find her appealing and I really seriously do not get why she is so against Zhen Huan and friend when they have helped her so many times. I find her ungrateful. As for the actress, no comment since I find this character rather... boring.
Best scene : The songs she sang which I am sure isn't sung by her. Her voice is dubbed.
Status : Can she die, soon?
There are other concubines, such as Jing Fei, Qi Gui Ren, Duan Fei, etc, all of whom I will say portray their role very well. Then there's the maids, Huan Bi and Ji Xin. Let me find their pictures and names and I will comment more later.
UPDATES - 01.07.2012
This is sorta funny. For half the series we have women killing off the emperor's unborn child or stop the young ones from getting pregnant. Now this 2nd half we have 2 women passing off other men's child as the emperor's own child. I almost pitied the emperor. Almost. And who the 2 women? Well Zhen Huan and her 17th prince and then there's Hui Pin and Dr Wen! Yes one night of passion! Pregnant! So Hui Pin had to seduce the emperor and 1 month later, claimed pregnancy but less 1 month of course! And these 2 best friends did the same tactic but neither knew of other's child being someone else's child, thinking it is the emperor's and feeling happy for one another but Dr Wen knows! He knows everything!! For me the happiest union has got to be the Chief Eunuch Shu Pei Sheng and Jin Xi, Zhen Huan's oldest maid. They truly love one another.
UPDATES - 30.06.2012
Found pictures! Comments later but am hoping to find name of cast/character and complete the "concubines" picture collection. I am definitely missing a few, actually missing a lot!
I didn't know this post is followed by readers of my blog! But then as I search for more info, in English that is, I kept seeing my post somewhere at the top of all searches which means there is a serious lack of internet presence for this series in the err... internet. A reader asked if I am still watching this one and you bet I am! Things are getting good again with Zhen Huan making the biggest mistake of her life and now will have to pretend she didn't and so breaks the heart of 17th prince whom she loved and whom she is now carrying his child. Yes, his child!! Now pretend to be the emperor's child minus 1 month in overall pregnancy months. Confused? Don't be. Just know when she was banished she decided to be with 17th prince and a plot hole so big even a meteorite crater can fit into this plot hole. Anyway now we learn they intend to elope when the emperor forgets about her and she decided to pretend to die thanks to Doctor Wen's medicine of fake death. So I assume between here and when 17th prince left to do some big job for the emperor, they had sex. Because seriously, we see in painful details how naked 16 year olds wrapped in blanket carried to the bed of the 40-ish emperor, here we don't even get to see 17th prince hug Zhen Huan and carry her to bed and cue to the shoes by the bed. None. But since they had time, obviously they had sex. The thing is she panicked when 17th prince didn't come back and she thought he was murdered when his supposed strong ship sank so she was determined to return to the palace using the emperor's power to
1. find the murderers
2. exact revenge
3. protect 17th prince's only child
Zhen Huan can be very dastardly when she wants to. At this stage she no longer cares if the emperor is alive, dead, well or whatever. Anyway the emperor missed her, thanks to Shu Pei Sheng his trustee sidekick eunuch who by now formed an alliance/relationship with Zhen Huan's older maid (can't remember her name) encouraged the emperor to visit Zhen Huan and guess what? One look and off they went, to bed. 1 month later she announces she is pregnant and Dr Wen was very hurt because he did suggest to her to run away with him and he will be the father of her child. She refused, flatly. Instead she made Dr Wen make false diagnosis that
a. pregnancy is 1 month instead of actual 2;
b. therefore the emperor is the father.
At this point all my sympathies for Zhen Huan became nothing much because Dr Wen is a good guy, she should have run away with him but she refused anyway. She in a way emotionally threatened him into agreeing with her plans and mind you if discovered HIS family and he himself will all be killed. I really pity Dr Wen and at this point feels Zhen Huan and the emperor are so alike in the way they use people and then discard them when they're not useful anymore and then use them again with all their charm and all when they need something done.
As for the in the palace, Empress is worried, An Pin is still there and I don't get what sort of influence she wields since she is really a persona non grata and everybody is ok. Empress Dowager is determined to allow Zhen Huan back in because
a. she is pregnant with emperor's son
b. she wants someone to balance the empress' power as she is getting power hungry, bumping off unborn child, concubines, including 3rd prince's mother who was stupid enough to listen to the empress. We also discover the much beloved and talked about Empress Chun Yuan was also murdered by this empress. Ahhh I can't wait till Zhen Huan found out about this and use it against her. Mind you, emperor is still crazy about that dead empress.
And so we shall see the return of Zhen Huan which makes this series interesting again and be off with those nonsense about her doomed love affair with 17th prince. When I thought he died, there goes my Huan Bi marrying 17th prince theory but now it is back on and Huan Bi shall suffer as well I suppose. Everybody knows she liked 17th prince, and she knows 17th prince loves Zhen Huan. What was her reaction when she found out he didn't die, by which time her pregnancy was entering 4th or 5th month? Shocked for like seconds. I felt she should have fainted. That reunion scene was so cursory even the director can't wait for Zhen Huan to return to the palace. There was no emotional punch. Later than night they met and he questioned her and she simply said she is materialistic, she didn't want to suffer and she is carrying his brother's child, meaning she had sex with bro barely 1 month since he supposedly died/left/whatever, 17th prince accepted the situation graciously and hugged her for the last time as she cried bitterly. And all these so darn Qiong Yau. I am sure in Qiong Yau, they would have eloped or continue the affair and then elope. In this series, I was surprised to learn the unwanted 4th prince is indeed Hung Li aka future Qian Lung and the emperor bestowed on Zhen Huan the rank Fei with a Manchurian surname added (which is the same as Qian Lung's birth mother in real life if I remember correctly) and upped her age by 10 years and made her the birth mother of Qian Lung. So she will surrogate Hung Li whilst Empress is now surrogate mother of 3rd prince whom we all know in real life was either banished as a commoner or killed by Yong Zheng later on. I believe this series will go dramatic so expect killed by Yong Zheng as his end.
Sad for Zhen Huan and her biggest mistake but seriously though what choice she had? Our hero only returned when she was already 4 months into her pregnancy. Imagine if she waited, how then can she pretend that child is the emperor's with her tummy and all? I pity her and her limited choice BUT I hated the way she manipulated Dr Wen who would die for her if she asked him to. The decent guy in this series, not as idealistically foolish as 17th prince but almost. And imagine if 17th (Yun Li I think) did elope with Zhen Huan, won't the emperor know by then their relationship? If Zhen Huan died, 17th missing, lots of visits from 17th to where Zhen Huan is, put 2 and 2 together the emperor would have known.
And my prediction for the ending? She elopes finally with 17th prince when much time has passed. The emperor will die in probably 5 to 7 years max, depending how old he is now and story integrity. Since 4th prince really likes Zhen Huan, she may be allowed to leave the palace since the significance of being 10 years older means she can leave 10 years earlier. Since the story is so screwed at this point with the real fact, I wouldn't be surprised her story is tweaked a bit that way.
Anyway a reader asked me to comment about the performances up until this point, specifically Ada Choi who would have perfected her "Chi lai ba" line , and I figure I shall do a midway review of performances for female and male actors. But first I must hunt for some nice pictures of each character/actor if I can find them.
Are you interested in this series' OST? There is actually an OST! Serious. Very interesting Chinese gu zhen music and all, beautifully sang even if 1 same song, 5 variations, with male and female singer version and then the rest the instrumental music which is seriously good but also seriously boring for those who isn't into such music. I find it funny how the same song can have so many version; one part the woman singing about her suffering love and then the end another version about a man giving up his kingdom for the woman he loves. Interesting lyrics. I may not be very good at Chinese but I shall make an attempt to translate. But dear reader, if you can help me find;
b. full cast list
c. Chinese lyrics to the theme and end song
I will be most grateful.
P/S I think I may even complete my Yong Zheng series if I can watch Alex Man's classic, Dynasty!
UPDATES - 18.06.2012
I am watching this series avidly and I do think Betty Sun is a fine actress. Are you watching? Because right now I am a bit half way through this series and whilst I know the dynasty is not specified in the book and so since Qing Dynasty is popular and Yong Zheng most popular (right now), so the series was set during that time, screw the real facts. I don't mind that knowing it is not based on the era so anything goes. So we have Hong Li as the exiled and unloved 4th prince. Question is will he BE the next Qian Long? Since so screwed up, I do not know. This is not BBJX. Anyway right now the heroine, Zhen Huan was stripped off her title (not a very high Pin, before that is I think Da Ying, after Pin is Gui Fei I believe follows by Huang Gui Fei follows by Empress - I think I am missing one rank somewhere) after giving birth to a princess and banished to a nunnery/temple outside the palace. Truth is she banished herself, because she was very disappointed the emperor never really loved her but loved her lookalike, Chong Yuang Empress which we never see but heard a lot who died before he became Emperor. I do believe if Chong Yuan Empress lived, he would in the end got tired of her and disappoint her. The fact she died when he loved her most sealed his love for her in an timeless capsule where he remembers all the good since no bad has happened yet. And was also disappointed how heartless the emperor was towards her old parents and also one of her most faithful maid died in the process. If I was her I too will feel that way. And all that before she turned 20. Talking about burn out! She gave her daughter to a kindly high ranking concubine to take care of (Jing Fei I believe) and so she moved into the temple with her 2 most faithful maids, one of whom is her illegitimate half sister, Huan Bi, who is in love with the dashing and unmarried 17th prince, a favourite brother of the emperor because he is the least political, he just wants a carefree life. Ok, got it?
Ok, so far so interesting and good too the story moves away from the palace as the Empress (Ada Choi with her obligatory "Chi lai ba" - You may stand - like 3 per episode spoken to various concubines who kneel in respect) is now consolidating her power promoting a few concubines, one of whom the dastardly An Pin (used to be An Da Ying, real name An Ling Rong). Emperor also don't want to talk about Zhen Huan, he is as angry with her for daring to leave as she is angry with him for not loving her but using her as floating device. Got it?
Ok. Now this is where the story became from disbelief to stupid to utterly impossible, even if the entire history is screwed, some basics are not. For example;
1. 17th prince always liked Zhen Huan, in this series he basically spent much time with her as he stays near the temple which at the back houses his mother, Concubine Shu who was a favourite of Kangxi and banished by the current Empress Dowager (Liu Xue Hua whose entire role is be sick, sit down, say can't do anything and yet with her morose face has participated in making decisions which resulted in the deaths of no less than 2 concubines - she is the real female villain although the series doesn't say so) to forever reside in the temple. Anyway he confessed to Zhen Huan he is in love with her, and he isn't married yet, not even a Ce Fujin (say what?!?! Seriously?!) and now being pressured to marry and he said he will only marry the woman he loves and that is Zhen Huan. You see what is stupid here? Zhen Huan is the emperor's banished wife. You don't marry banished wives of the emperor. Even if they're banished. More so this emperor still sorta speaks fondly of her, sorta and loves the daughter she gave birth the most. I thought the entire conversation, scene, etc was so stupid. I remember in Kang Xi Di Guo, Kang Xi said "There are 2 things I do not share with anyone; my books and my women".
2. Why every place with more than 3 women around are all "pat pohs" (busybodies)? Even the temple is such where Zhen Huan and 2 maids were bullied and she let herself be bullied. And the impossibly stupid happened that they dared to bully her just because she got banished. I am sure before she came to the temple the emperor would have issued an edict to say this concubine is staying at the temple, NOT BANISHED. Anyway they bullied her away from the temple and Zhen Huan was sick and had to move to some even further away lodging up in the mountains and miraculously 17th prince came rescuing her. I was like seriously? REALLY? So darn stupidly dramatic for no darn intelligent reason.
These 2 points, especially point 1 makes this series at present highly entertaining but exceedingly stupid. I am just waiting for Zhen Huan to realise she doesn't want to suffer and runs back to the heartless emperor. Yes he is heartless, that I agree. 17th prince is ridiculous. It is more likely he can marry a palace maid than a banished concubine who used to be and could still be the emperor's favourite, and who so happens to look like his beloved dead empress.
After the death of Hua Fei, I feel the series suffered a bit. Not only was the actress who plays Hua Fei excellent, her story was the most exciting and in the end sorta saddest eventhough she doesn't deserve your sympathy. The Nian Geng Yao in the Yong Zheng Wang Chao deserves your sympathy as you will find yourself asking "Why, why defy the emperor and yet still respect him so much?" but this series, it is just shown a little, like touching the surface only. I felt like I was watching a better written Qiong Yao series but if the acting were more dramatic, no dubbing THIS will be a Qiong Yao series.
And a question to all, see if you can figure it out; why the emperor has so few sons and daughters? Last count is I believe 2 daughters and 2 sons. Why? Because all the women kept killing off his unborn child; first Hua Fei and now the Empress herself. Sick isn't it?
But don't stop from watching this series. It is well acted (by most), largely well written and quite colourful. Now, since there are so many Yong Zheng series out there, let me make my own recommendation;
If you want dramatic excitement, watch Empresses In The Palace.
If you want a good looking cast with a good memorable story, watch Bu Bu Jing Xin (get ready with tissues!)
If you want fully happy endings, then by all means watch the stupid Gong.
If you want a propaganda series based on historical facts with excellent acting but wouldn't mind the less good looking version which BBJX is based on, then Yong Zheng Wang Chao is the one.
If you want real Cantonese in a version to kickstart your love/hate/admiration/obsession with Yong Zheng, watch Secret Battle Of The Majesties with the ever entertaining and handsomest Yong Zheng, that is Kong Wah. There you have Lui Sei Leong which none of the above has.
Wow, I watched so many Yong Zheng series!!
UPDATES - 27.05.2012
I take back everything bad I said about this series except for the emperor's performance. I am really enjoying this series and I shall love it until the series shows Zhen Huan falling for 17th prince which to me will be a bore. The acting is top notch, costume is not BBJX but looks better than TVB stuff, but the story is even more engaging that QSHF at this moment. After all this is the series to watch if you wanna watch the rise and rise and rise of a concubine to the top of the harem and how she stays there. This is like the definitive encyclopedia for such a story. Since I reconciled with the idea of how screwed up Yong Zheng's history is as presented by this series (is this one of the reason why China is attempting to ban historical dramas as well? What else can China produce after that? Modern days series is an abusive rapist boyfriend disguised as the ultimate love story ala Sealed With A Kiss?) as that being that the book has no definitive dynasty and since Yong Zheng is popular, so his reigning period is used as the backdrop, I am not totally ok with the series. More since it make sense all those things about General Nian, Concubine Hua, etc, eventhough I feel a better time period for Qing would be Qian Lung or Kang Xi or better yet Tang Dynastys or Early Han would be much better. But never mind. Story's great so I am enjoying it and I highly recommend that you do too! Oh how devious women can be! This is what Curse Of The Royal Harem should be!
UPDATES - 23.04.2012
Right now after a long wait for the emperor to pop her cherry, finally he did and it is now on full speed towards total catfight. So far I am loving this series. The costumes are inconsistent like very inconsistent and the make up is like kind (pale lipstick), evil (red lipstick), ala that cursed series but so far I love the acting and the real voices used for some key players. I just feel why put the era in Yongzheng's dynasty when he hardly had time to even breath. Should have been Qianlung dynasty! And I do feel the actor as the emperor is I don't know.. can't say he's bad, can't say he's good. He is most expressionless, his voice monotone. It is his real voice. Some actresses' voices are so gentle, the accent so beautiful. The lead actress' voice is dubbed and I do think with Ruby's voice from Qing Shi Huang Fei!! Anyway love the catfights. Who doesn't eh?
PREVIOUSLY POSTED ON 17.04.2012
ASTRO is showing Empresses In The Palace aka Legend of Concubine Zhen Huan aka 后宫甄嬛传 aka China really loves multiple titles so as to confuse everyone, the one where people wondered how come Yongzheng is so old when Nicky's Yongzheng so hot when the actor said he is same age as Nicky!! Anyway I read the storyline, emphasising on the italic part;
It tells the story of one of Emperor Yongzheng's concubines, Zhen Huan, who's the mother of Prince Hongli (the famous Emperor Qianlong).This drama, adapted from popular Internet novel of the same name, will tell the story of the heroine, Zhen Huan (Sun Li), who joined the palace harem with her sister. She was selected to be Emperor Yongzheng's (Chen Jian Bin) concubine. When Zhen Huan first enters the palace, she is innocent and gullible, but gradually learnd the hard way to fend for herself when she inadvertently becomes caught up in the schemes between the Empress (Ada Choi) and Concubine Hua (Jiang Xin). Through cunning and deceit, Zhen Huan finally succeeds in becoming Empress. However, she arouses Emperor Yongzheng's suspicion about her loyalty and is forced to poison her true love, 17th Prince. Finally, when Emperor Yongzheng dies and Hong Li ascends the throne, Concubine Zhen Huan becomes Empress Dowager. Though her future seems bright, she lives the rest of her life in sadness and guilt.
Say what?! Yongzheng already had Hongli before Kangxi died and one of the reasons people speculated Kangxi gave the throne to Yongzheng was because Hongli reminded Kangxi of himself! And when I read further in the forum;
This drama is based on the novel 后宫甄嬛传.The background of the novel is fictitious. This drama has moved the background to a real dynasty Qing while in fact it is not. This drama is not exactly what history is. Please treat it as an ordinary story.
I see! Fictional eh? I see! I see! Rubbish! Why twist an already very fascinating great mystery of the Qing Dynasty? Mystery as in Yongzheng himself! Rubbish! Can't believe BBJX is more accurate! In history it is believed Yongzheng was very fair to the empress who never had a child and yet became empress. I love how BBJX showed her as someone kind and gentle and befitting the title Empress but I suppose there must be a reason Ada Choi is cast and I believe this empress must be outwardly gentle but inwardly as conniving as everyone. Was the mother of Qianlong ever an empress? I don't think so. After the empress died, Yongzheng died not long later. BUT she did become empress dowager since her son became emperor. And 17th prince would have been too young? Anyway Yongzheng would at least be 25 years or more older than the ladies in this series, as each is like 16 or 17. However I shall watch this series because it is always interesting to watch a catfight, more so when we know the ending. No wonder at the start the empress dowager was so anxious is getting Yongzheng another concubine for children. I thought "He already got at least 3 surviving ones" when Hongli has yet to come into the picture. I see. So when he died, Hongli would be 13? Or this series will prolong his reign a little bit eh? And interesting a series on women fighting during Yongzheng era where in real life, hardly any such fight existed then. Kangxi or Qianlong maybe but Yongzheng? So I suppose therefore the fresh take that is until I read the following;.
Some more from here;
And that is until I read further down;
I see! So the book was ambigous. I suppose the producer was jumping onto the BBJX bandwagon or something like that.
Based on a popular internet novel by the same name, the story traces the trials and tribulations of the beautiful Zhen Huan, who inadvertently becomes a royal consort of the Emperor. Fate has sent her from the peaceful courtyard of her father's estate to the caged opulence of the Forbidden Palace, then to the darkly austere nunnery, and back to the splendor of the palace again. She transforms from an naive young girl oblivious of the harsh reality into a scheming court lady, and finally ascends to the most coveted position of the inner palace, Empress Dowager. At first, Zhen Huan devotes entirely on her husband, the Emperor. But when she discovers his true colors, her love for him dies with her innocence. Through the selfless love and sacrifice of Prince Guo, Zhen Huan slowly manages to recover from her emotional and physical turmoils. Their blissful happiness outside the palace ends abruptly and Zhen Huan is forced to return to the palace. She gives birth to Prince Guo's twins, a son and daughter, but the Emperor begins to question the fraternity of her twin children...UTTER RUBBISH. Poor Yongzheng. Already much maligned in real life, even in fiction he can't have a happy ending.
And that is until I read further down;
Since the the original novel is set in a fictional time period in imperial China, the screenwriters decided to give it a more "historical" backdrop and chose the reign of Emperor Yongzheng in Qing Dynasty as the drama's time frame.
I see! So the book was ambigous. I suppose the producer was jumping onto the BBJX bandwagon or something like that.
And oh, Ada Choi looked old, but pretty. I keep remembering Ada as someone young and fresh when she is.. err.. 40? And the dubber is good so her acting looks good when he real voice tends to be screechy. I do think the actor, Chen Jianbin is using his own voice, as with some of the actors. So far I like the series but not sure how I will cope with the entire change of history. The ladies in here are quite pretty but the guys are no eye candy.
Eye candy is BBJX and even more eye candy is QSHF. If Nicky Wu is the Yongzheng in here, end of story. No need to fight. He wins! That is why they found someone older but poor Liu Xuehua... she looks more like the emperor's sister than mother. Insane casting!
The costume so far.. BBJX wins. I can never see any production of Qing Dynasty ever surpassing BBJX in terms of costume. Location.. same place and I can never see any production of Qing Dynasty ever surpassing YZWC which uses real palaces as location. Actresses... well ... depends. This one more traditional in looks. Guys, of course BBJX wins. Storyline.. already you know how I feel. Would be different if Yan Kuan and Wallace Huo is in this. Just imagine them with shaved heads. Have they ever taken a Qing role? For sure Wallace haven't.