Emperor Qin


Reviewed by: sukting

May 26, 2004

Rating: four

How long/Year produced: 60 episodes /1984

Cast:
Males
Emperor Qin/Ying Zheng - Lau Wing
Yan Dan - Poon Chi Mun
Jing Ke - Lau Chung Yan
Han Fei - Lo Lok Lum
Lu Bu Wei - Wong Wai
The emperor - Yu Chang Shun (Dong Fong But Bai in TVB 1997 version of Swordsman)

Females
Han Mi - Mak Chui Han (Mui Chiu Fung in TVB 1994 version of Legend of Condor Heroes)
Ming Yi - Wong Chiu Si (Princess Wah Tsang in TVB 1983 version of Legend of Condor Heroes)
Ji Si - Sam Sam (Princess Pipa in 1979 version of Chor Lau Heung)
Xue Ying - Mai Shuet
Zhao Ji - Bao Hei Jing (Princess Chai in Heroine of the Yang)
Meng Jiang - Fung Bo Bo


Introduction :
A must-watch masterpiece classic. Although the later part of the story is unbelievable, it's still acceptable as it follows closely to history unlike Zhuge Liang spinning tales from the beginning to the end. The right people for the right roles. And Wang Meng Kuen's 'Bo Lien Lantern' was beaten in the ratings. It was heard that no other TVB serial could surpass its ratings all along because of its gripping story and faithful followers. Normally I dislike historical dramas but this is exceptional that I also watch it twice! As it is a long drama, I split it up into different stages.

Story:

(A)The youth stage of Ying Zheng
The emperor sets eyes on Zhao Ji. She is a beautiful dancer and her ambitious lover, Lu Bu Wei gives her up painfully. He wants so much to be the Prime Minister that he is willing to forsake everything. Zha Ji accepts her fate silently but they have a difficulty. She is now pregnant with Lu's child and they are thinking how to keep the fact from the emperor. Lu then decides that he will be addressed as a premature baby when born. Later, to their alarm, the baby is still in her womb after 11 months! Lu is delighted as he thinks that his son will be an extraordinary man.

Later, Ying Zheng is born. Both fathers are excited. But the emperor dies after a sickness upon knowing that he is not his natural son. Lu becomes the Prime Minister and sets very high hopes on him. Ying Zheng gets to know Han Mi and Yan Dan, both loyalties from the Han and Yan states. He doesn't look down upon them even though they are exiles.

Ying Zheng grows up to be an unhappy youth. He doesn't understand why his mother listens to Lu so much. Lu is always holding on to the power, which belongs to him. He falls for Mi but she likes Dan instead. He gets very angry when seeing them together. He then hatches plots to break them up, and to marry Mi. Dan is alarmed and plans to elope with Mi.

On his wedding day, Ying Zheng is furious to find that his wife isn't Mi. She turns out to be Ji Si, a powerful court official's daughter. Lu has switched the bride as he wants the best for his son. He leaves her and demands to have Mi back. Both have a quarrel and Ying Zheng hunts the couple down. Seeing Dan in danger, Mi accidentally falls into the river and nearly drowns. Ying Zheng quickly saves her out of the water. Dan is devastated as his own boat sails away.

Mi has been a weak child all along and this slip kills her instantly. Before dying, she realises that she loves Ying Zheng more all along and makes this confession. Ying Zheng is so heartbroken that he carries her body to the top of a mountain. He goes several days without food to guard her body from crows. Later Lu scolds him to wake him up. He vows to seek revenge on Dan but he is still respectful to Ji Si. Ji Si knows about his true feelings and keeps mum about it. She concentrates on taking care of her son.

Ying Zheng blames Mi's death on Lu. He then poisons him to death. Lu is actually happy before dying that his son has become a ruthless man like him. If he continues to be soft, he will never be powerful. He dies peacefully but Zhao Ji can't get over his death. She reveals the secret to Ying Zheng. Ying Zheng is shocked and disbelieves her at first. But even after knowing the truth, he puts her under house arrest as he hates the fact that he is not of actual royal blood because of them!

(B) The assassination of Jing Ke
The other states are alarmed when Ying Zheng is successful in getting some states. They have a discussion and they decide to send an assassin. Dan decides to look for a well-known assassin, Jing Ke, but he is always wandering around the world right now. He is at a snowy mountain, enjoying wine and the beautiful scenery. The inn-keeper's daughter, Xue Ying, gets along well with him. She is shy and gentle and both have some wonderful moments together. Later he leaves, saying that he'll never be back.

On his way, he has a spar with the descendent of Yue Nu sword. It is said that the skills are passed to one successor per generation. But they are not supposed to reveal their identities at all. Princess Ming Yi, Dan's younger sister, is curious to know how good Jing Ke is and thus looks for him. She has wanted to kill Ying Zheng herself so she is angry with Dan's plan. However, she is impressed and even helps her brother persuade him. At first, Jing Ke refuses but upon seeing her, he agrees. He has guessed her Yue Nu successor identity and agrees to keep it a secret.

Love blossoms between them and they are reluctant to part. Jing Ke attempts to kill Ying Zheng but he fails and gets killed. Ying Zheng is impressed by his good skills and laments that he doesn't have such a heroic person in his state. Ming Yi quietly makes another attempt on Ying Zheng's life and fails too. Before dying, she begs Ying Zheng to bury them together. This reminds Ying Zheng of Mi and he agrees.

Dan is saddened by their deaths and knows that Ying Zheng wants his head. He is cautious but he never expects his father to drug him and send him to Ying Zheng to make peace. Ying Zheng kills him after hurting him with remarks that Mi has loved him all along. He then takes over the Yan state.

Mi's brother, Fei, is sent to make peace with Ying Zheng. Ying Zheng finds him a capable man and wants to keep him by his side, partly on Mi's sake as well. But he refuses to betray his own country although he stutters in his speech. Ying Zheng has no choice but to kill him. After many years, he finally gains control of all the states.

(C) The End of Emperor Qin
Ying Zheng calls himself Emperor Qin after his success. He commands people to build the Great Wall for him. Meng Jiang's husband dies in the process. Meng Jiang cries and half the wall is collapsed. Qin gets furious and orders guards to bring her to him. He is astonished by her beauty and keeps her by his side. She starts to like him and treats him better after he shows his feelings towards her. (Can you believe this?)

Ying Zheng is never happy even after his success. Meng Jiang then talks him into going on a tour with her to take a break. They enjoy themselves but upon reaching the Great Wall, she remembers her husband's death and feels guilty. She takes her own life and dies (If I remember correctly). Qin is devastated and sad over her death. He is already an aging man and her sorrowful end makes him critically ill. Giving a galnce at the Great Wall the last time, he dies.

His troops have a hard time bringing his body back as it decays easily due to heat. His clever Prime Minister, Li Si, adds salted fish to the sedan. He is the only one who knows his death and manages to keep this from the army. Qin's son (a cameo appearance by Chan Sau Mun's real-life husband, Lam Kok Hung) ascends the throne. He is not close to his father as he has seen the poor treatment that he gives his mother all along. But he manages the job well with Li Si's help.

Comments on cast/other news
I doubt ATV can come up with such a spectacular cast with great acting anymore now. I have tons for praises for all the actors. They have done so well that I have nil complaints. My number one choice is Lau Wing. He can act so well, from young to old. I really think he's the best choice to act in this role which no other person can surpass him. The gentleness and the arrogance that he places emphasis on make me very impressed.

The close second is Wong Wai. He does it so well in so many dramas and there is no exception for this one too. Lo Kar Leung is very obsessed with Wong Wai's role as Lu Bu Wei. He likes it so much that if given the choice, he will gladly trade in all roles for it! He is very amazed by Wong Wai's acting and became his fan from then on. That's why he is so delighted when working with Wong Wai in Criminal Investigators 2.

Yu Chun Sun is not belittled by Bao and Wong when acting together. Knowing that he is acting with 2 experienced artistes and his role is important in the first few episodes to make or break the ratings, he does a lot of homework. Which he surely gives his best shot in the end.

As usual, Lau Chung Yan is at his best. Although he only appears in 15 episodes (If I'm not wrong), he captures the viewers' attention with Jing Ke's chivalry, humour, and wits. Don't miss it if you're a great fan of his. And surprisingly, the highest ratings go to the 5 episodes where he and Mai Shuet are together! Many are fascinated by the romance between them with the beautiful scenery. Many fans complain that they are not together long enough. Mai Shuet is very pretty here with a youthful and innocent look.

From what I heard, Lau Chung Yan is disappointed after reading the script and to find that Mai Shuet isn't acting in it! He has a lot of power and writes a plot to give to the producer. The producer likes the story too and arranges Mai Shuet to act in it. Even though it is a small role, Mai Shuet agrees to it as she is attracted by the role and she can't resist acting with Lau again. It is said that Lau even oversees the cinematography and buys his own costumes to fit the role.

Viewers dislike Jing Ke to be so irresponsible to Xue Ying and why must he love Ming Yi in the end? I do find him more compatible with Mai Shuet than Chiu Si. But Chiu Si is equally stunning with her dimpled smile and endearing way. As for Mak Chui Han, her role is limited but she still does well.

The main flaw will be Bao Hei Jing's and Fung Bo Bo's outlook appearances. Although Bao is very good with Wong Wai, she looks older than Yu Chun Shun. Fung Bo Bo looks haggard as she is dealing with her divorce at that time. She is really in poor form, unlike the lively way she looks in Empress Wu. She looks listless here with poor acting. It is sad that they want her to improve the ratings and yet she ruins it!

Songs
Lo Kar Leung is at his best when singing the two songs. I've not heard him singing heroic songs as he has switched to singing smoothing ballads now. The theme song really shows the arrogance of Ying Zheng well, saying that the ground is at his feet and wants all to admire his success.

The sub-theme is 'Parting By Yi Shui'. It shows how reluctant Jing Ke is when leaving Ming Yi to meet his death later. The Chinese verses are in the song to portray the grief but the determination to gain success. The 2 songs can be heard in an EMI compilation album. Lo Kar Leung once said that these 2 songs are his top favourites and he has watched some clips of the serial first to decide the style of singing. In fact, he likes it so much but too bad he isn't involved in the acting of the serial.

Conclusion
It is a good drama with interesting plots and nice acting. From this, I learned a lot on the historic events. Normally a 60 episode drama will wear my patience away but this one doesn't. My only wish is that they shouldn't have arranged Meng Jiang to fall for Qin. This proves to be a fatal mistake as many viewers complain again. Who can take it when they even go hand in hand touring together? Actually I wish to give a 5 for acting. But unfortunately, I've to cut down my expectations as Fung Bo Bo really does her job badly. If you're expecting her and Lau to have the same chemistry together as in Empress Wu, you'll be disillusioned. What a pity!

sukting's Ratings:

On acting:* * * * 1/2 (Scale of 5)

On the story: * * * *(Scale of 5)


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