- Note: I completed this series when in aired back in May 2013 but I never got around to posting up my write-ups which I happen to dig back up! I really gotta get these posted more timely >_< *sigh* Better late than never I hope? Hope you enjoy! 🙂 *contains spoilers*
- [Beauty at War] was TVB’s highly anticipated 2013 Grand Production, sequel to 2004’s War and Beauty. I heard that this was also TVB’s lowest rated series for the past 2 years. *SIGH*TVB*SIGH* Ok, the series wasn’t that great..but I wouldn’t call it the worst I’ve seen. There are heaps worse series out there! Cut the cast some slack…their performance were great- the storyline just could have been better. There were a lot of articles talking about lead actress Sheren Tang’s regret in taking part in the series; and due to her public criticism of TVB’s production team, she is now also “Frozen” from TVB. Oh wells- she’s already busy scheduled for mainland dramas anyway!
- Anyways that was just a side note. Having sat through the entire series, I thought I’d drop by some of my thoughts on it. Please note, I, like most of the viewers out there was a little confused on the storyline and I’m probably still equally, unable to ramble through anything meaningful or share any those hidden messages (if there are any!)…so I’m probably not going to be offering any interesting insights to “hidden plots” or references to War and Beauty because I don’t know them. I haven’t seen War and Beauty, only snippets of it in the past so I will not make any comparisons between the two either. Interesting enough, snippets of War and Beauty appeared in the finale episode in Sheren’s Yu Fei’s dream.
- Beauty at War is confusing. The storyline is slow, draggy, and has too many characters and relationship plots which makes it hard to follow. I remember when watching the first few episodes I was trying to figure out who was related to who. Despite that, I thought the series had potential so I watched on. TVB decided to do something nice. It was like they figured out that the audience (i.e us) was too dumb to figure out what was going on, so they had their stars come back to film “interview clip” and showed these before the start of each episode to explain to us the relationship between the characters and what the episode was about. Don’t get me wrong, I actually liked those clips! hahah It was a nice story telling thing and turned into my favourite section of the episodes. It had a nice run down of events, and made me want to watch the series to find out what happens- Then, it made me almost only want to watch the interview clips rather than watch the series!
- The overall plot is simple. Sheren Tang plays Yu Fei who is a favoured concubine. She is a kind hearted lady, but often mistaken, due to her younger sister played by Christine Ng constantly spreading negative rumours about her in the palace. Christine is one of the Grand empresses. When they were young, both Christine and Sheren were part of the concubine selection however Sheren pulls out because she was sick, and as a result, Christine becomes selected. Soon after though, the emperor passed away and his son took the thrown whom later takes Sheren as his concubine. Christine is angered that she became widowed and powerless and is convinced it was part of Sheren’s scheme to gain power over her. While Christine does these petty things to attack Sheren, Sheren doesn’t blame her and only wants to mend their sisterly relationship and protect Christine from doing anything that would damage their family’s reputation.
- Christine is known to be quite immature and doesn’t think things through rationally, acts on impulse and has a desire for love.
- The mess starts happening when Moses Chan who plays a Opera singer enters the palace to perform, causing all the girls including servants to fall for him, but particularly Christine who starts fantasying in her own world about love- love which does not exist in the palace.
- Sheren notices this and in order to prevent her sister from doing any misconduct, she schemes her way through to get Moses out of the palace. When she learns of Ada’s feelings for him, she manipulates both Moses and Ada and creates a situation where they both fall in love with each other. Ada trusts Sheren and tells her all of her feelings for Moses etc. When Ada finds out Sheren’s scheming truth, she takes revenge on Sheren by making Sheren fall in love with Moses to the extreme she fantasies being in relationship with Moses, in Ada’s spot. Ada later sends poison to Moses, thinking he never loved her but realises the truth too late that Moses left her only to protect her.
- In the finale episode, Ada finally realises that Moses did love her, unfortunately was killed in the riot when she tried to leave the palace.
- Christine and Sheren’s relationship mends.
- Sheren Tang (鈕祜祿·如玥), Consort Yue (如妃): Sheren’s performance has been quite consistent through the drama, but nothing too special. Her character started off being a good character but later turns semi-evil- for no real good reason! I just wasn’t convinced that after the death of her son, she would turn evil. Not to avenge the son in any way, but believing life is unfair and that there’s no need to “be a good person”. She decides to continue to “protect” her sister Christine, by using Ada’s trusts. How can she manipulate and betray someone like Ada who took care of her son like her own? For that reason, I disliked Sheren’s character. Sheren and Ada developed a bonding connection because of the 5th prince, and especially after the prince passed away. Ada didn’t do a thing to betray Sheren, it was just irrational for Sheren to use her that way. Attack someone who is most vulnerable? What kind of woman is that? I laughed and cheered when Ada found out and started manipulating Sheren back without Sheren realising.
- Ada Choi as Seung-ling (布雅穆齊·湘菱) — the nanny of the fifth prince. She spreads rumours and gossips of the harem outside the Forbidden City. Ada is my favourite character in the series. Her performance was outstanding and I loved all her crying scenes. She is the character which kept me interested from the start, made me empathise with her so much in the middle, especially the scenes when she finds out her three children at home were already dead. Those scenes were brilliant. Ada and Moses’ love story was quite touching too. They had a connection before they even met each other. I’m glad at the end Ada finally found out Moses did truly love her. Ada didn’t do anything to harm Sheren or Christine (from memory). She was what kept me watching the series. Her interactions with Katy and her ‘battle’s with Tracy Ip were also exciting. She came off as a very clever woman, but at the end she just became so lost..
- Christine Ng as Yuen-sau (鈕鈷祿·宛琇), Consort Dowager Shun (淳太妃): At first, Christine’s character reminded me of her role in “Silver Chambers of Sorrow”- just a bit! XD
- I like the theme song she sung as well.
- At the start, I felt Christine’s acting was very wooden, but as the episodes went on, she became more natural and more likable. Her character reminds me of some petty woman, scheming for the power (like how she as killing off the other old woman)- I mean, what other power does she have in the palace? To me, her character is in her own little world. She later falls in love with Kenny Wong, but he rejects her, admitting he only helped her because he wanted freedom from palace. She’s an angry woman, who feels injustice, and misunderstands Sheren’s actions. I feel indifferent about her character. She never really felt powerful, despite getting the “grand” title half way through the series.
- Moses Chan Ko Lau-fei (高流斐) — a famous Kunqu opera artist: I hated his character from the start. He was completely arrogant and caused trouble for everyone, whom only cared about his own face. He was rude and showed no respect for anyone and I felt sorry for his rival Eddie Kwan (playing the female in the opera). I’m not sure how his character suddenly changed when he entered the palace. Maybe he was trying to obey the rules? Later on he became less annoying, and more attractive, especially with his interactions with Ada.
- Eddie Kwan as Wan Chau-yuen (雲秋絃) -is another opera artists who plays female roles. At the start I felt sorry for his character. He tried his best to do his part, often having to clean the mess left by Moses, and his father in-law doesn’t treat him well because he thinks he’s not good enough to be his son-in-law. Eddie’s wife Vivien Yeo plays a very supporting wife and they are a loving couple. All this changes once Eddie moves into the palace to perform. His hatred and jealousy towards Moses grew, and all he cared about was how to become more popular and regarded than Moses. He ends up allying with the bad guys, and bribes them for a chance to perform for the Emperor. All for fame. He didn’t care about his wife anymore, and stupidly believed when that his unborn child in Vivien’s stomach belonged to Moses -_- Eddie turned despicable when he rose in power. I have a weird feeling about the rumours of what he may have done towards the emperor to gain favouritism, especially rumours of the emperor being Bi as well =_= Later on, I’m not even sure what his purpose was in the palace. Here and there he just did things to keep Moses in the palace, but he didn’t end up doing anything significant. He and Rachel Kan (Sheren’s maid) also develop some kind of relationship, but he later rapes her. Who does he think he is?? -_- When Rachel dies for him at the end, his character completely changes and he leaves the palace and returns to his wife.
- Kenny Wong as Tung Kat-hoi (佟吉海): a palace inmate which people think has mental disorder. He used to be a ‘fortune’ teller (?) in the palace but because of a misreading, his family were banished. Kenny doesn’t really have any interaction with the other characters. His goal is to find that lucky person in the palace who can help free him from the palace.. He later he gets close to Christine Ng and helps her gain power, does a lot of things for her to gain her trusts, but she ends up falling for him instead, and refuses to let him leave because she wanted him by her side.
- Katy Kung as Muk-do-yee (布雅穆齊·木都兒) : Ada’s step daughter and head of palace maids favoured by the Empress. Katy has a good role. Her character was righteous and likable, sticks up to those treated fairly in palace, e.g consistently defending for Kenny Wong’s character. I like her how she stands for justice, is loyal towards the palace, and complete opposite to her father who is corrupted. At first she does not get along with Ada because she disapproves of her doings/briberies/selling information. Later when she realises Ada was ‘forced” into it but her father; the two grew really close. I loved watching Katy’s changed attitude towards Ada. I’m not too convinced about Katy falling for Kenny’s character though- that seemed a bit odd. I couldn’t really tell she had that kind of feeling towards him and not sure how it happened. Nevertheless, the two both left the palace at the end of the series- hopefully this means they end up together =) I liked the scene where she got slapped by her father. Powerful.
- Christine Kuo as Chin-yui 芊蕊 plays one of Sheren’s maids. Her acting and Cantonese was just horrible here. I couldn’t stand watching her…good thing her character doesn’t have too much screen time (and doesn’t really play a role in the series other than a servant)
- I find it extremely weird that the Emperor and Empress do not appear in the entire series.
- All in all- would I watch this series again? Probably not…would I recommend it? Probably not either… anyone have similar thoughts?