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Wednesday, April 13, 2005

War & Beauty 《金枝欲孽》


不愛宮牆柳,祗被前緣誤。
花落花開自有時,總賴東君主。
去也無從去,住也如何住?
若得江上泛扁舟,妾願隨君往。

"I don't love the willows by the walls of the palace, I was misled by fate.
Flowers bloom, flowers wither, it all depends on the sun"


*sun is a reference to the emperor; the son of heaven*

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Powerful women: Rebecca, Sheren, Charmaine, Gigi & Maggie

Cast:
張可頤 飾 蘇完尼瓜爾佳.安茜
Maggie Cheung as So Yun Nei Gua Yi Kai. Onn Sin

佘詩曼 飾 董佳.爾淳
Charmaine Sheh as Thong Kai. Yee Shun
( Top 10 Favorite Character Award, nominated Best Actress; TVB 37th Anniversary)

黎姿 飾 侯佳.玉瑩
Gigi Lai as Hau Kai. Yuk Ying
(Best Actress, Top 10 Fav Character Award; TVB 37th Anniversary)

鄧萃雯 飾 鈕祜錄.如玥
Sheren Tang as Lau Gu Luk. Yu Yuet / Yu Fei
(Outstanding Actress Performance, Top 10 Fav Character Award)
(Nominated Best Actress; TVB 37th Anniversary)


林保怡 飾 孫白颺
Bowie Lam as Suen Bak Yeung
(Best Actor, Top 10 Fav Character Award; TVB 37th Anniversary)

陳豪 飾 孔武
Moses Chan as Houng Mou
(Top 10 Favorite Character Award; TVB 37th Anniversary)

陳鴻烈 飾 孫清華
Chan Hung Lit as Suen Ching Wah
(Outstanding Actor Performance; TVB 37th Anniversary)

梁 琤 飾 納蘭.福雅
Jade Leung as Lap Lan. Fook Nga
陳秀珠 飾 孝和睿皇后
Rebecca Chan as Empress
于洋 飾 嘉慶皇帝
Yu Yeung as Emperor Jiaqing
盧海鵬 飾 徐萬田
Lo Hoi Pang as Eunuch Chui Man Tin
Wong Tak Bun as Siu Luk Chi
Wai Ka Hung as Chan Song
Maria Chan as Boh Sim

Story: (some spoilers)

"According to the Rites of Zhou, an emperor should have 121 concubines. This means, in addition to the empress, the emperor also has 3 consorts, 9 concubines, 27 hereditary consorts and 81 lesser wives. Not to forget, he has thousands upon thousands of untitled palace maidens. Of these concubines, however, only a tiny few had the honor of sleeping with the emperor. The imperial consorts, therefore, often plot against each other in the life-and-death struggle to win the emperor's good graces. Consequently, a spate of tragedies took place in this female world of wealth and dignity as many of the women lived out their disconsolate lives in the recess of the imperial palace."

-Tales of Empresses and Imperial Consorts in China" compiled by Shang Xizhi, translated and edited by Ling Lingxing, 1996.

15th year, Jiaqing reign. Intrigue, deception and romance are daily occurrences in the palace of the Qing Emperor, Jiaqing. While the country revels in peace, there were bloody and fierce struggle behind the imposing red walls of the Forbidden Palace.

Yu Yuet (Sheren) is the beloved concubine of emperor but she feared her reign will end soon. As triennial imperial concubine election approaches Yu Fei feels increasingly threatened by the three beautiful and manipulative women vying for the emperor's affections. Among the "Sau Nui" are Yuk Ying (Gigi); a beautiful girl from noble background, and Yee Shun (Charmaine), who has the secret support of the powerful Eunuch Chui Man Tin (Lo Hoi Pang).

There is also Onn Sin (Maggie); 25 years old palace maid who hopes to reunites with her grandmother. Onn Sin was well liked by maids and eunuchs for her kind and sympathetic personality.

Suen Bak Yeung (Bowie) and his father are royal physicians for three generations. Their relationship was strained because Suen blames his father for causing his mother's death. Suen is a sensitive person and understands the feelings of the women in the palace. He is aware of the dangers working in the forbidden palace.

Koung Mou (Moses); used to be a kind-hearted person, but the hardship of poverty molded him into a bitter person. Along with his cousin Chan Song (Wai Ka Hung), he fights his way to the top for power and wealth. After several misunderstandings, he forged a close bond with Bak Yeung.

Yu Fei tries to subdue the newcomers under her control as the emperor's affection for her began to wane. Among the "Sau Nui", Bak Yeung realizes that Yuk Ying is not as brainless as everyone perceived. Although Yuk Ying came from a noble family, she was not born of the formal wife hence her position in the household was very low. Yuk Ying hoped by gaining the emperor's love, nobody will ever look down on her and her mother again. She pretends to be meek so Yu Fei will loosen her guard on her. Still, she loses Yu Fei's trust after being foiled by Yee Shun.

During the selection period, Yee Shun sworned sisterhood with Yuk Ying but in reality, repeatedly schemed with her two adoptive sisters Suk Ling (June) and Yun Kei (Chan Man Hei) to get rid of her. Alas, before their plot succeeded, internal problems started to occur. Suk Ling, feeling jealous on the emperor's attention on Yun Kei, betrayed them, resulting in the Yun Kei's death. Yee Shun was dismayed with Suk Ling and retaliates to dispose her in return. At the same time, Yee Shun began to suffer severe asthma attack due to her depressed state. Bak Yeung treated her with care and attention; causing her to slowly fall in love with him...

The empress constantly finds faults with Yu Fei all these years. Yee Shun took this opportunity to cause Yu Fei to lose favor from the emperor. The emperor was entranced with Yee Shun and promoted her to the rank of kwai yan (worthy lady) soon after.

While Yuk Ying was forced to live in the sick palace by Yu Fei, she forged close relationships with Onn Sin who was always by her side. Seeing Yu Fei's power has weakened, Onn Sin regained hope to be reunited with her grandmother. Unfortunately, her grandmother suddenly died after visiting her. Onn Sin finds solace in Houng Mou as someone she can rely on for the rest of her life. Through Houng Mou and eunuch Siu Luk Chi's (Wong Tak Bun) help, Onn Sin assisted Yuk Ying to become a kwai yan. However, good times never last as Onn Sin discovers the truth behind her grandmother's death. Blinded with revenge against the empress, Onn Sin decided to abandon love and friendship. She successfully seduces the emperor and become a kwai yan herself.

After falling out of favor, Yu Fei experienced the mistreatment of the people around her, except Houng Mou, who treated her with care and respect. They went through hardships together and Houng Mou realizes that Yu Fei is not an evil person after all; she was just forced to protect herself for survival.

Yuk Ying felt discontented by Onn Sin's betrayal and tried to wrestle the emperor's love from her using all means possible, including manipulating Bak Yeung, who was secretly in love with her. On the other hand, Yee Shun has become disillusioned after Eunuch Chui suddenly passed away. Her only consolation was the companionship of Fook Nga (Jade Leung); an ailing concubine who treated her as a sister. Under the advice of Fook Nga, Yee Shun decided to escape the forbidden palace with Bak Yeung. Bak Yeung was torn between Yuk Ying and Yee Shun...

For a more detailed article, please read my official review at:
http://www.spcnet.tv/reviews/review.php?rID=684

I didn't post this info in my review:

According to the anecdotal accounts of life in the imperial palace of the Qing, when the emperor wanted to select a consort to stay the night with him, he called in the responsible eunuch, who laid before him cards bearing the names of the various consorts. After he picked out a card, the eunuchs proceeded to the residence of the selected consort; wrap her in a blanket and carried her to the emperor's chamber. She was made to stop in the first outer room and undress herself there. Then she was conveyed to the second outer room, where she put on her underwear. After that she was ushered into the emperor's bedroom and placed onto the emperor's bed. Afterwards, the eunuch would again wrap the woman in the blanket and carry her away.

Pretty embarrasing, don't you think? Plus, if she was visited by her relatives, they have to prostrate themselves (kneel) to greet her, even though they were her own parents.

This series also highlighted the ancient methods used to punish wrongdoers.
For servants: Lashing for trivial mistake. Death by poison is very common. Another popular choice would be flogged with two large flank of wood. Most of them won't survive due to septic shock.
For court ladies: Hanging (Bak Ling), Poison by wine, Swallowing opium, Slow, painful suffocation through layers of wet papers placed onto the face. All created to torture them before death.

Re-posting some the WAB pictures in my collection. They're taken from ent.sina. For my extensive WAB episodic screencaps, feel free to browse:

http://photos.yahoo.com/sehseh_wab
(Please do not re-post without prior permission)

Bowie as Bak Yeung
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Charmaine as Yee Shun
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Escaping
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Gigi as Yuk Ying
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Jade as Fook Nga, Rebecca as Empress
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Maggie as Onn Sin
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Moses as Houng Mou
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Sheren as Yu Fei
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Some screencaps:
http://img84.exs.cx/img84/703/sc3rs.jpg
http://img84.exs.cx/img84/4590/sc12za.jpg
http://img84.exs.cx/img84/4498/sc22ih.jpg



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