Beyond the Realm of Conscience

Reviewed by: juphelia

March 06, 2013

Rating: four-point-five

Initially I thought this show is a copycat of the Korean show "Jewel In The Palace", since the central characters are palace maids and that even for palace maids, there is power struggle and backstabbing to be the chief. But as the series progresses, it became a good standalone show on its own.

The central character is this unbelievable too good to be true character Lau Sam Ho (Charmaine Sheh). Because of her good nature and her attitude of never causing harm to others, everybody loves her. When I say everybody, I mean literally everybody, from her own boss (Michelle Yim), the head of Embroidery, to her next boss (Susanna Kwan), the head of Jewellery, to the Emperor (Moses Chan), to the bodyguard and chess master who eventually became her husband (Kevin Cheng), to his father (Samuel Kwok), even the Empress Dowager Cheng (Mary Hon), and the evil Dowager Concubine Kwok (Susan Tse).

This is where the story started because Sam Ho's best friend Kam Ling (Tavia Yeung) was jealous of the fact that everybody loved Sam Ho, so she plotted her way to become the most powerful woman in the court and wiping out all those who were against her.

It is refreshing to see Tavia Yeung in her first evil role, although I think her makeup is a bit weird. Maybe it is the look of those times, but I prefer Selina Li's makeup better, as it really makes her look like a spoiled brat yet a virtuous princess at the same time, wihch is what her character essentially is.

Tavia Yeung plays a palace maid who won the Empress Dowager's favour and rose to become an imperial concubine. She was still unsatisfied, so plotted to get rid of her rivals including the other imperial concubine (Selina Li), the palace maids, and her greatest nemesis Sam Ho. I wonder why when Sam Ho and her are supposed to be best friends and honestly, Sam Ho never did anything to betray her.

TVB has been making quite a lot of these palace politic shows, mainly concentrated on the Qing Dynasty, so it is refreshing indeed to see one in the Tang Dynasty. The sets and costumes are really nice, since Tang Dynasty was supposed to be the dynasty that has the best fashion, fabrics and riches, so everything looked glamourous and classy.

Moses Chan played the Emperor Xuanzong, the last good Emperor of Tang. Unfortunately, after him, the emperors did not fare that well and the Tang Dynasty folded three generations later (in real history). In this show, Moses showed himself to be a good and kind emperor. The only part that did not make sense was that, as Emperor, why did he let the chief eunuch Lee Kwok Lun control him? He could easily sentence him to death immediately for having the audacity to question the Emperor's authority! So why did he not? That would have saved him all those trouble of gaining a bigger army and fighting a war with Lee Kwok Lun, and definitely would have prevented all those unnecessary deaths.

So far I have never seen Moses Chan in a really evil role. The roles he played are all the kind-hearted, righteous goody man kind. Even though he did not love either Tavia or Selina, he agreed to let them be his consorts and still did his duty as their husband. Yet the one he truly loved (Charmaine), he let her go when he knew her heart did not belong to him. Moses is always the nice righteous guy!

The hero of the show (Kevin) seemed a bit stiff here. I am not sure if it is because of his role, but somehow he did not seem to have much expression. Or maybe Kevin is not suited for period dramas, because his contemporary dramas fare much better. Just think of his Law Ba role. But Charmaine and Kevin's chemistry again, shines!

The overall pace and plot is excellent. I like the seriousness of this drama because it is due to the serious tone that the whole drama is so intense. Even though this is another show on palace politics, the plot itself is refreshing and I am so happy the evil doers got what they deserved. An excellent production!

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