Year produced: 2011
How long: 35 episodes
A 25 year-old modern day woman woke up from a car accident to find herself in the body of a 16 year-old Manchu girl living in the 18th century Qing Dynasty. In her new life, she became deeply entangled in Aisin Gioro princes' battle for the throne. How is she going to live in a new place?
Zhang Xiao, a young woman from the 21st century, quarrels with her boyfriend after finding him cheating on her. It is funny that his name is Huang Di. She nearly dies from an accident that sends her back in time to the Kangxi Emperor's reign. She is trapped in the body Ma'ertai Ruoxi, the teenage daughter of a Manchu general.
She has an elder sister, Ruolan, who is a concubine of the Kangxi Emperor's eighth son, Yinsi. Ruoxi initially tries to return to the future by trying to kill herself. Yinzhen pulls the reins of his horse on time to prevent knocking her down and tells her to treasure her life. She soon adjusts to life in this era as he tells her to get used to it.
She meets some of Kangxi's other sons - tenth prince Yin'e and fourteenth prince Yinti, as they are close to Yinsi. She also forges a close friendship with the thirteenth prince, Yinxiang. She is extremely wary of the crown prince, Yinreng. After that, she meets all the princes on Yinsi's birthday. She sighs after knowing their sad fates even though they seem close now.
Ruoxi stays in Yinsi's house and Yinsi falls in love with her. She initially rejects him but later agrees to marry him if he gives up competing for the succession to the throne. Their love develops when they are in Mongolia. He goes after her when her horse breaks free and she loses her control over it. He feels the anguish when she hurts her hand.
All the princes do not want Ruoxi to be Kangxi's concubine so all persuade their mothers to take her in. Even Yinzhen gets concerned to ask Yinxiang to ask his mother for help. He has admired Ruoxi's bravery to stand up for Ruolan when she gets bullied by Minghui and Mingyu.
However, the queen does not want to offend any of them so Ruoxi ends up being the tea maiden to serve Kangxi tea. Knowing their likes and dislikes through history, she comes up with designs of porcelain tea sets for all the princes according to their favourite flowers. She soon becomes Kangxi's favourite.
Ruoxi is initially frightened of Yinzhen. She doesn't dare to accept his gifts and shivers when he is strict in teaching her horse riding. Thinking that she is interested in him as she knows his likes (she checked by asking Yinxiang), he even kisses her forcefully but she bites his lips. Ruoxi knows that Yinsi's ambition will lead to his death in prison after Yinzhen becomes emperor as his plan fails. He refuses to give up so she decides to look for another backer for survival.
After breaking up with Yinsi, Ruoxi's gets close to Yinzhen. It changes her bad impression of him and she falls in love with him. He stands beside her all this while even though she kneels in the rain to plead Kangxi to make up with Yinxiang. Meanwhile, Yinsi and the other princes, taking on Ruoxi's advice, frame Yinzhen for plotting against Yinreng.
Ruoxi returns Yinsi the bangle he has given her in the past. In his anger, he breaks it. Up till this time, Yinzhen has done nothing although he also wishes to be the emperor. Ruoxi agrees to help him. Yinxiang takes the blame and is ultimately sentenced to house arrest to stay in a cold valley. That affects his health badly. After this incident, Yinsi realizes that Ruoxi is now with Yinzhen.
Yinreng is deposed after his criminal ways are exposed and is imprisoned for life. Kangxi shows preference for Yinti and offers Ruoxi as a concubine to him. However, Ruoxi defies the emperor's order, and she is demoted to the laundry department to wash clothes for the eunuchs. She laments that they should have a washing machine as she has a very hard time.
Kangxi dies of illness so with military support from Nian Gengyao, Yinzhen stages a coup and seizes the throne from Yinti to become the Yongzheng Emperor. Yinzhen then releases Yinxiang from custody and makes Ruoxi his consort upon knowing that she is pregnant. Yinxiang's health is badly affected after his long stay in the wilds and is now no longer close to Yinzhen. Yinzhen feels that they are distant now. Ruoxi's happiness, however, is destroyed by Yinzhen's ruthless treatment to Yinsi and the others. She is often caught between them.
Minghui tells Ruoxi that Yinsi is against Yinzhen years ago because of her advice. Ruoxi is shocked - what has she done to the princes?! It turns out that she is the sinner to cause their deaths. Her despair causes her to miscarry Yinzhen's child and is unable to conceive again. However, she is calm as she doesn't want her child to suffer in the palace like her. She also learns that she only has a few years left to live.
Enraged, Yinzhen blames Yinsi and Minghui, forcing them to divorce, which leads her to commit suicide. She doesn't want to implicate her family. Ruoxi fears that Yinzhen will cause more brothers to die and confesses the truth to him and Yinxiang. Yinzhen is stunned when he understands why Yinsi plotted against him and starts treating Ruoxi coldly.
Ruoxi is unable to withstand the mental stress and asks Yinti to help her leave the palace. She recalls that Yinsi still has Kangxi's edict with him. Yinsi knows that Yinzhen will not allow Ruoxi to leave and decides to intervene. He discloses details of his past romance with Ruoxi, and an angered Yinzhen eventually agrees to let Ruoxi and Yinti leave the Forbidden City. He allows her to be Yinti's concubine. Despite Yinti's excellent care, Ruoxi's emotional anguish deeply affects her health, and she begs him to send a letter to Yinzhen, requesting to see him before she dies. However, Yinzhen thinks that Yinti is mocking at him to throw this letter aside, unread. Yinti has deliberately uses his own letter to put in Ruoxi's letter to spite him.
Ruoxi stays hopeful for three days but gives up, thinking that Yinzhen's absence shows that his love for her has ended, and she dies. When news of Ruoxi's death reaches Yinzhen, he rushes to Yinti's house, regretting his actions after learning that Ruoxi still loved him. He demands to see her body but Yinti has burned it to ashes so he breaks into tears.
Back in 2011, Zhang Xiao wakes up in a hospital and is informed that she had been in a coma for weeks. She wonders if her experiences in the past were real or imaginary. She discovers that history remains the same and visits a museum where she recognizes some Qing Dynasty-era artifacts.
She also sees a lady in a Kangxi Emperor portrait that resembles her. Meanwhile, a man who looks like Yinzhen also visits the exhibition and encounters Zhang Xiao but does not recognize her. Zhang is unable to control her tears as he walks away.
1. Liu Shi Shi as Maertai Ruo Xi / Zhang Xiao
She is a 25 year old modern woman from the 21st century and travels back in time to be a 16-year-old Ma'ertai Ruoxi. Despite her modern outlook, she is forced to adapt to life in the 18th century. She is linked with many Kangxi Emperor's sons. Things are complicated by her knowledge of their fates.
Yet, she doesn't know her own fate so she worries until she falls ill. Her actions shape their history and she bears with the guilt. Ruoxi dies after knowing how her role affects their lives, causing Zhang Xiao to reawaken after several weeks in a coma.
Xiao is initially reckless when getting into the past but later becomes mature as she has modern knowledge. She is observant and also 'bu bu jing xin' so that she doesn't offend others easily. However, she still helps her friends in need. Shi Shi has tried her best in the role to be cheerful as a lark and also to be a damsel in distress when tragedies strike. She also dances well as she graduated from Shanghai Dance Academy.
Men of Aisin Gioro
2. Wu Qi Long as Yin Zhen (4th Prince)
He is destined to succeed his father as the Yongzheng Emperor and wins Ruoxi's true love in the end. He is an introvert who doesn't show his true feelings. Ruoxi refers him as "ice face". He doesn't trust people easily and shows his deepest concern only to those he cares about.
Ruoxi opens his heart and he starts to care for her. Knowing that she is outgoing, he fights for her chance to go to Mongolia with Kangxi. He also reminds her of the tea leaves that she should bring along. Being an experienced rider, he coaches her in this. He will not hesitate to dispose those who oppose him. The deaths of Ruoxi and Yinxiang sadden him so he also dies after them.
Qi Long has improved in heaps and bounds here and he does have the royalty look. He is also marvelous in crying scenes, showing his despair openly after Ruoxi's death. Being well-versed in physical education, he is agile on horses.
3. Cheng Kar Wing as Yin Si (8th Prince)
He is Ruoxi's first love interest and Yinzhen's rival for her affection. He is like a piece of jade who knows how to please all due to his mother's low status. Still, he is impulsive in love and can be romantic. He is very gentle to his wife and Ruoxi. He walks quietly beside her when she is down to hold her when she accidentally trips. Many mock him for only having two wives, unlike others who have many. He has loved Ruolan deeply but indirectly causes her to hate him instead.
That is due to his heart being sealed by Ruoxi but he feels betrayed by her. He never hides his desire for the throne but he fails miserably. He only realizes that he loves Minghui the most after her death but it is too late when Yinzhen sentences him to death by giving him poison wine. Kar Wing changed my mind as an actor who can't act. He has improved so much as the devoted and caring lover and yet ambitious prince.
4. Yuan Hong as Yin Xiang (13th Prince)
He is a daring and faithful supporter of Yinzhen. It is strange that he is closer to him than Yinti is to Yinzhen - it seems that they are more like blood brothers instead. He is also a close confidante of Ruoxi. He doesn't fall for her but their relationship can be a confusing one when she clings to him for secret sharing. He is talented and witty but has no ambition. Ruoxi has pestered him to teach her horse riding but he ends up getting Yinzhen to be the teacher as he has to meet Minmin.
He has no regrets taking responsibility for Yinzhen as he spends 10 quiet years in the valley with Luwu. When he is back, he gets lost in the power struggle. He loses Luwu and he can never be the same again. He later dies young due to illness. Getting Hong for this role made a fine choice. He makes this prince come alive - handsome, gallant and also humorous.
5. Lin Geng Xin as Yin Ti (14th Prince)
He is Yinzhen's blood brother as they have the same mother. He is past caring about traditions and is loyal to Yinsi. When he grows older, he starts to have his own thoughts to want to be the emperor. He has looked down on Ruoxi before for deserting Yinsi but later is in love with Ruoxi. He can go against anyone for her. Ruoxi knows that he will never force himself on her even though she becomes his concubine. He treats her well but is still unable to win her heart.
Many have said that Geng Xin looks like He Run Dong but I feel that he resembles Chen Jun Sheng more. Although he is the only one among all not to have graduated from Shanghai Acting Academy, he puts up a strong performance.
6. Han Dong as Yin Tang (9th Prince)
Many call him the ninth poison snake. He is the other prince besides Yunxiang not to fall for Ruoxi too. He supports Yinsi and also Yinti to achieve his ambitious aim. He is the richest among all princes. Upon knowing that Ruoxi deserts Yinsi, he wows to make her pay. Kangxi doesn't like Yinzhen so he strips him of his royal title. Yintang often bullies him so he bears a grudge to sentence him to death by poison when he makes a comeback. He also makes use of Yu Tan to work for him. He also realizes her true heart for him before he dies.
7. Ye Zu Xin as Yin'e (10th Prince)
If you compare him with other princes, he seems very normal and also slow-witted. He is loyal to Yinsi too and all like him for his sincerity. You will laugh when he asks Ruoxi if he likes him in a confused manner as he knows his limits. He likes Ruoxi before and marries Mingyu unhappily. However, he later realizes that he truly loves Mingyu. The two go through thick and thin together when Yinzhen banishes him from returning to the palace by opposing his edict. Zu Xin makes this prince likeable and innocent.
8. Lau Chung Yan as Kangxi Emperor
He is wise and has the authority to seal his sons' marriages to match them to maidens he likes. They have no choice but to give in. He works for the country and likes Ruoxi's quick response to matters and seriousness towards work. He has spoiled Yinreng rotten but all princes are displeased over the arrangement. Thus, all fight for the throne. No one can do a better job than Chung Yan. I am totally captivated by him.
9. Zhang Lei as Yin Reng/Hong Li (Crown Prince)
He is the second eldest prince but is made the successor as his mother dies young. Thus, he throws his weight around and the other brothers have to endure him. He often finds fault with them. His eldest brother tries to dispose him without success so he escapes the first time. He sets his eyes on Ruoxi and wants to marry her not due to her beauty but due to her close ties with the Mongolians.
Determined not to marry him, she deliberately turns herself ill, after knowing that he will not be the crown prince a year later. True enough, luck runs out for him when he is disposed the second time. Excellent acting from this actor too. Strange that he also acts as Yinzhen's son later.
10. Chen Jing Yu as Yin Zhi (3rd Prince)
Quiet and reserved, he isn't close to the other brothers.
11. Wang Xiao Dong as Yin Qi (5th Prince)
He also doesn't talk much. Surprisingly, he speaks up for Yinti when he is beaten. Thus, Kangxi gives a lighter punishment and Yinti is grateful to him. Yinti is sore that Yinzhen doesn't speak up for him but Yinzhen knows that the punishment will be more harsh if he opens his mouth as Kangxi dislikes him.
Wives of Aisin Gioro
12. Liu Xin You as Maertai Ruo Lan
She is Ruoxi's older sister and Yinsi's second wife. She is elegant and quiet but knows horse riding well. She has a lover who is a general. Her beauty also attracts Yinsi. After being engaged to Yinsi, Yinsi gets curious to know more about her lover. Thus her father sends him to war to get killed after her marriage.
Her heart dies with him and she has a miscarriage. She is cold to Yinsi and can never forgive him. She often hides in the room, looking through Buddhist books. She is only concerned about Ruoxi. She is dying of an illness so Ruoxi gets Yinsi to write a letter of divorce to set her free. She is content that she has nothing to do with the royal family now and dies in content. Although Xin You is the only Taiwanese actress, you don't feel that she is the odd one out as she also delivers her lines well.
13. Shi Xiao Qun as Gorolo Ming Hui
She is Yinsi's wife and she is considerate to him. She gets easily jealous but accepts Ruoxi if she wants to marry Yinsi to give in to him. She is smarter than most men but she prefers to keep a low profile. She shows her determination when she turns up in court on Yinsi's behalf on Kangxi's birthday as Yinsi is seriously ill. She can bear with all insults from the rest and deals with them well. She is even better in horse riding than Ruo Lan. She has a son and burns herself to death in order to save her family. It is only now that Yinsi discovers that he loves her the most. Xiao Qun makes this character stand out.
14. Yu Xin as Gorolo Ming Yu
She is Yin'e's wife. She is innocent and pampered. She is protective towards Minghui and dislikes Ruoxi as Yinsi has shown more love towards Ruolan. Both women often quarrel and she is unwilling to marry Yin'e at first. However, love blossoms between them due to Ruoxi's help and she is grateful to her. Xin is also eye-catching in the role from immature to mature.
15. Guo Zhen Ni as Lu Wu
She is Yinxiang's love interest and is an art courtesan. Still, many look down on her. She is willing to take care of Yinxiang when he is under home arrest. She begs Yinzhen and Yinti to help her. She comes from a family of scholars who are against Qing rule.
Knowing that her past will affect Cheng Huan and she can't get along with other concubines, she drowns herself in a lake. Rouxi keeps it from Yinxiang due to his poor health to reveal this much later after seeing how frantic he is to look for her for years. Zhen Ni also does her part well as the self-sacrificing role.
16. Dai Chun Rong as Imperial Consort De
She is the empress and mother of Yinzhen and Yinti. She tries hard to bring them closer to no avail. She can never forgive Yinzhen for betraying Yinti for seizing the throne.
17. Liu Jie as Consort Liang
She is one of the Kangxi Emperor's consorts and mother of Yinsi. Yinsi knows that Ruoxi misses Ruolan after waiting on Kangxi so he gets her to arrange the sisters to meet at her quarters. She was once a palace maid. Knowing that her past will affect him, she rejects treatment when she is ill and dies miserably. Yinsi gets so remorseful that he also falls ill himself.
18. Mu Ting Ting as Lady Ulanara
She is Yinzhen's wife and strangely, she persuades Ruoxi to marry Yinzhen since they love each other deeply. However, Ruoxi knows that she can never be happy after so many deaths and chooses Yunti.
19. Lu Mei Fang as Lady Nian
She is Yinzhen's concubine who gets her status through her brother. She is content with her status and doesn't fight for more.
20. Deng Li Min as Li De Quan
He is an eunuch and personal attendant to the Kangxi Emperor. He is Ruoxi's benefactor and mentor and reminds Ruoxi of her mannerisms and to say the right things at the right time.
21. Cao Xin Yu as Qiao Hui
She is the Ma'ertai family's faithful maid. She initially waits on Ruolan to her death and later serves Ruoxi until the end. It must be sad for her.
22. Ye Qing as Yu Tan
She is Ruoxi's best friend when they both serve Kangxi. She is gentle and observant. Yintang once rescues her from poverty and thus she becomes his mole in the palace. She is also torn for her sisterly feelings for Ruoxi but still works for him. Yinzhen has dropped many hints to her but seeing her unrepentant, he steams her to death in front of Ruoxi.
23. Zhou Yan Cheng as Wang Xi
He is an eunuch who is Ruoxi's best friend and Li Dequan's godson. Ruoxi is shocked to learn from him that Dequan is poisoned to death and not retired from the palace. She then realizes that Yinzhen is connected to Kangxi's death.
24. Kang Ming Tong as Yun Xiang
She is a maid in the palace working with Yutan under Ruoxi. She is also close to her and takes care of her when she is ill. Ruoxi isn't that close to her as to Yutan.
25. Hu Zhong Hu as Gao Wu Yong
He is an eunuch and personal attendant to Yinzhen. He often helps Yinzhen to pass gifts to Ruoxi.
26. Shen Bao Ping as Zhang Qian Ying
He is the eunuch of the laundry department. He often wants to get fresh with Ruoxi but to no avail. Out of anger, he gives her extra clothes to wash to torture her the whole day. Yinzhen feels the pain upon seeing how her hands are frozen. That is why Ruoxi often falls ill after that.
27. Guo Xiao Ting as Suwan Guwalgiya Min Min
She is Prince Suwan-Guwalgiya's daughter. She develops a crush on Yinxiang and befriends Ruoxi when they come to Mongolia for the first time. She treats friends well and hides Yinti in her tent when he comes to visit Yinsi to pass him news when Ruoxi is on the second trip. The two lie to her, saying they are lovers forced to part so she helps them.
Knowing that Yinxiang isn't in love with her, she requests Ruoxi to come up with a dance to make this memorable. The dance attracts Zhuo Ying's heart instead and they become a couple.
28. Ba Sen as Prince Suwan Guwalgiya
He is a good father who dotes on his children. He is grateful to Ruoxi for her help and gives her a bangle. It is similar to what Minmin has to show that she treats her like a daughter as well.
29. Zheng Kai as Irgen Gioro Zuo Ying
He is Minmin's suitor and eventual husband. He is handsome and capable. However, his talents are restricted as his mother is a concubine. He wins Minmin's love and all are happy for them.
30. Chai Wei as Princess Cheng Huan
She is Yinxiang and Lüwu's daughter. Ruoxi dotes on her after Luwu's death. She is intelligent and obedient. She is very close to Ruoxi, Yinxiang and Yinzhen.
31. Qu Ao Hui as Hong Shi
He is Yinzhen's son who initially bears a grudge towards Ruoxi but later treats her better after knowing how she tries to help his family. He doesn't understand why Ruoxi wants him and Cheng Huan to buy a birthday gift for Hong Li they understand much later that she knows beforehand that he will be the future emperor and this will save them.
32. Xing Han Qing as Nian Geng Yao
He helps Yinzhen to establish the future. He is too greedy and wants Yinzhen to treat his sister better so Yinzhen warns him to watch his words.
Interesting facts from websites
Qi Long and Kar Wing's popularity rose after this drama was shown. All were fascinated by their acting. Their acting fees have increased now - it was said that their acting projects span until the end of 2012.
Shi Shi wasn't a newcomer - she had acted in many dramas but in supporting roles. Together with the two actors, they bagged many popularity awards. Many complained that Shi Shi wasn't as pretty as other actresses and was not worth the love of the 'princes' as they were too dashing (this is the response from my male colleagues). Some even questioned where her baby fat went too in this drama. Did she go under the knife? She denied it. If she still looked plain after plastic surgery, that would be a sad thing.
Some angles of her looked like Liu Yi Fei but she looked visibly drawn in many other scenes. She admitted that she was under a lot of stress and many could see many pimples on her forehead. She was also tense to work with the handsome actors - it was indeed the real 'bu bu jing xin' for her. She did not interact much with the actors. Offscreen, she called them 'eight' or 'fourth' princes but not their names.
Lau Chung Yan has never shaved himself bald for Qing dramas. This was his first attempt - the curiosity and urge to act as an emperor were too great. Gen Xin was very nervous acting with the experienced cast, especially Chung Yan. He felt pressurized with the big shots. They gave him support and encouragement to boast his confidence.
The series remain mostly faithful to "Bu Bu Jing Xin", the novel by Tong Hua on which it is based, but has a different ending. In the novel, Ruoxi is unable to return to her own time and dies due to her illness, while Yinzhen dies years later hoping of reuniting with Ruoxi after death.
In the television series, after their deaths, Ruoxi's soul returns to the 21st century. She meets a man who resembles Yinzhen and is possibly a present day incarnation of him. The man does not recognize her, and Zhang Xiao is heartbroken as she realizes that her romance with Yinzhen in the past is over. The man's appearance however hints that she might fall in love with the present day incarnation of Yinzhen
Most favourite character
Yinxiang, he is past caring over traditions and stands firmly on his ground. A close second is Yinti, who never asks for anything in return - especially in loving Ruoxi.
Most hated character
She is definitely Ruoxi. I can't help feeling that she is promiscuous. She makes so many princes fall for her - intentionally or unknowingly. Seeing how she forces Yinxiang to teach her horse riding irks me. It is like seducing him but luckily, he doesn't get attracted by her. The prince has no obligations and I am very glad that Yinzhen takes over and teaches her a good lesson. She has been too much to throw her weight around. Yet, she rejects them one by one, calculating who will be most important to her in future. Very crafty and manipulative. I certainly do not like it.
The theme songs are "One Persistent Thought" by Hu Ge and Alan Dawa Dolma. The other is Love spiral by Alicia. The ending theme song is "3 Inches in Heaven" by Yan Yi Dan. All songs are nice to listen to and well sung. You must not miss them as they are karaoke hits. Strange that they rope in Hu Ge to sing the song although he doesn't act in it? I also wish to know why.
It has been a long time since I watched a decent Qing drama China production. ATV and TVB can't produce proper productions these days. Many of my female friends flocked to buy the dvds before the drama started airing on local television. That includes Korean drama supporters. Why was there a change in them? They marvel on the young and versatile actors in here - it is like a Korean drama but with an ancient backdrop.
I could not understand why until I watched it. And true indeed, they are charming and do not come across girlish like some actors in Korean dramas. Although there are many of them, all stand on their own and no introduction is required as to who they are. The actresses, too, have their unique traditional beauty. This is the only drama that my male colleagues also follow.
The story is compelling with many exciting subplots. Many grumble about the sad ending but it doesn't come as a surprise to me as ATV drama 'Dynasty' also shows the same story about the princes. I also feel that the mood is inconsistent from happy and cheeky to melodramatic. No matter how much we wish to change it, history should remain as it is. The cast carried themselves well in a touching and subdued way. The dialogues are written in depth.
The director, Lee Kok Lap is from Hong Kong so he is very experienced, He gets an international (Taiwan, China and Hong Kong) cast who looks and acts well- those who are young are impressionable. Those veteran ones also stand out although they are supporting roles. The setting is also grand and the scenery is also beautiful.
I do agree with many that Shi Shi doesn't look as if she is in top
form most of the time but we can forgive her as the character changing in personality requires plenty of preparation. Will there be a sequel? I am looking forward to it.
Sukting's ratings :
On acting : **** (Scale of 5)
On story : ***1/2 (Scale of 5)
On song : ***1/2 (Scale of 5)