Gems in the Palace


Reviewed by: sukting

November 08, 2004

Rating: three

Foreword
What inspires me to watch a serial full of unfamiliar faces - I can't explain it. However, I must admit that China has improved in its producing methods to give a better story and choosing a suitable cast.

Story/Introduction on characters

1. Shang Guan Jin Hong - Shao Feng
He is a general's son and he becomes a general himself. He is knowledgeable and also very skilled in martial arts. His parents died when he was very young. He is nearly executed when Kun accuses him for being a rebel with Hong Hua clan. Jian Long comes to his rescue when he realizes that he is his illegible son. This proud emperor knows that Jin Hong is in love with Yu Min but he doesn't know how to tell him that they are half-siblings. He tells him that he arranges her to marry Yin De and Jin Hong is like his son.

Jin Hong is so devastated that he accepts this sad fate and gets drunk the whole night. The next day, he is half-awake but still goes hunting with Yu Min, Ou Yan and Yin De. Yin De thinks of a way to please Yu Min - that is both will place an apple on their heads so that Yu Min can aim and shoot at them, testing her skills. Jin Hong is unwell but obliges. But alas, he suddenly feels faint and Yu Min loses her aim to hit his chest with her arrow. A jade is broken into two for saving him. Yu Min manages to find the remaining piece from the field and fixes it back.

He remembers Qian Long's words and quietly returns home although he has not completely recovered. He tries so hard to treat Yu Min coldly. Daily, he drinks in despair and thus his wound never recovers. Jin Hong saves Zi Yun from danger when her whole family is killed by Kun's man. She is grateful to him and visits him upon knowing that he is injured. Both become friends.

Unable to forget Yu Min, he practices swords play in the garden - he is sure skillful and graceful in this scene. San Niang comes as a masked maiden and tries in vain to persuade him to join Hong Hua clan. Both come to blows and he tears his wound. She flees but her words strike him - Kun causes his father's death and he is a coward to accept Jian Long's arrangement.

Upon knowing what Yu Min has done, he decides to fight for his own happiness. He openly opposes Jian Long and learns that San Niang is his aunt. He doesn't help the clan although he tries to assassinate Kun. But the harsh truth awaits him. He is unable to accept the truth and jumps off the cliff. But he doesn't die and loses his memory. Ming tricks him that he is a Hong Hua member and makes him for them. Zi Yun is also selfish not to let him recall the past as she wants to be with him.

Yu Min comes to look for him and he remembers the past. He accepts Jian Long after seeing how he travels to look for him. He protects him back to the palace and Jian Long acknowledges him openly as his sixteen son. He even gives him equal authority to compete with Kun. In a power struggle, Ming shields him from getting killed by Kun's man. Before dying, he tells another truth. Because Jin Hong and Yin De are born at the same time, Xue Ru makes the switch in order to seek revenge for her husband.

Poor man to suffer again - he can't imagine that the man he treats as his enemy all along is a wicked man and his natural father. At first, he is so discouraged that he doesn't even wish to reveal the truth to others. But upon knowing that Yu Min is going to marry Yin De in order to save Ou Yuan who tries to kill Kun, he is forced to reveal the truth. Even till the end, he can't bring himself to face him although Kun resigns from his post to show that he has repented. He chooses to roam the wilds with Yu Min after their marriage.

This role is so tragic to go through so many ups and downs in life. He is loyal to the emperor but is puzzled why he treats him like a son but yet doesn't regard him as his future son-in-law. He then contributes it to the fact that he is half-Machurian and half-Chinese. This is so depressing! Having such self-esteem, he puts up with the torture and keeps it to himself.

When he plucks up courage to seek his own happiness, he is shown the harsh reality. You will feel that he doesn't deserve to face so many tragedies in life.

Shao Feng may not be a handsome man in your eyes but he is definitely a fine actor. The gentleness that he shows towards Yu Min, the determination that he shows when facing Kun and the ease he shows in handling the sword, he simply slips into the role well.I believe he will go far one day if he maintains this standard.

But there is a part that I dislike so much. That is how he is made to be a fugitive. It is the same way how Leung Wing Chung looks like with his hair let down in 'The Book And The Sword' instead of tying in a pigtail. Whose crazy idea is it to make him look like a woman??

2. Prince Ou Yan - Zhuo Fan
He is the empress's only son but gets the most attention although he is the fifteen prince. Her mother regards Yu Min as a thorn in the flesh but he is very close to his half-sister. He often helps her when in need. One scene is so hilarious - he wants to help Yu Min to with the writing poetry punishment that Jian Long has implemented. However, her handwriting is so bad that he frowns and can't bring himself to imitate her strokes! And when he thinks that Jin Hong forsakes her, he beats him up. Hoping that they will have a happy ending, he plans their elopement.

Although he is of loyalty background, he doesn't look down on the poor. Upon seeing Zi Yun being bullied by hooligans, he comes to her rescue. He is then attracted to her gentleness but doesn''t reveal his status to her. She is intimidated by his status later but he still tries hard to win her heart despite knowing that she likes Jin Hong. He is usually gentle but is firm to oppose his mother when she wants him to marry Yin Ping. When Zi Yun goes missing in search for Jin Hong, he goes all the way to Jiang Nan to look for her. When he finally wins her heart, she is killed.

He treats her like his wife and is adamant to be beside her grave for a hundred days to mourn for her. The empress is unhappy with this and forces him to return to the palace by threatening to dig her grave. Usually this man is highly skilled and fears no one. But being sandwiched by love and loyalty, he chooses to hit his head into her tombstone, wanting to end his life. He is so forgiving towards his mother even though he knows that she kills Zi Yun.This is so sad. Even though he is saved, he is completely dejected. He vows to seek revenge but can't in the end because Kun is Jin Hong's natural father.

Zhuo Fan is usually boorish or devilish in other roles but he becomes so refined in here. I like the change - he finally shows that he can act.

3. He Kun - Wang Hui Chun
He hatches plenty of evil plots to kill Jing Hong, now knowing that he is his son. He donates lots of money to please the dowager so that he can force her to bring forward the wedding between Yin De and Yu Min.

He even orders the whole Shen family to be killed. Knowing that Zi Yun is alive, he doesn''t wish his own hands to be stained with her blood to offend Ou Yan. He creates discord to get the empress to do the dirty job - so that Ou Yan will be sad for a while and Yin Ping will come just in time to nurse his broken heart.

4. Emperor Jian Long - Xu Wen Guang
He is a womanizer when young and is so ignorant to ignore the fact that Jin Hong is born within 7 months. He realizes the mistake but refuses to acknowledge him openly. He forces Jin Hong to break up with Yu Min, without telling him the reason. Upon knowing that Jin Hong is injured by Yu Min's arrow, he is so anxious and nearly faints when the imperial physician tells him that he is very seriously injured. He is relieved when a jade that his mother gives him blocks the blow.

He spoils Yu Min as she loses her mother when she is very young and considers Ou Yuan as his successor. But the marriage plans he makes for them turn them against him and he has to change his decision. When knowing that his children are in Jiang Nan, he fears for their safety and comes to bring them back. It takes him a long time to move Jin Hong. So when Kun resigns from his post, he consents and even helps to persuade Jin Hong to change his mind about him.

5. Yin De - Miao Hao Zhong
He is Kun's son but is so different from him. He is a general like Jin Hong and both are friends despite the hatred between their families. Even though he knows Kun's ill doings, he often asks the others to forgive him. Knowing that Jin Hong is injured, he comes to visit him and even spars with San Niang when she walks out, fearing that she might hurt him. Yu Min threatens to kill Kun upon knowing the planned marriage. He is so filial to use his own body to shield him to get injured instead.

When Yu Min becomes a lunatic, he tries to make her happy by willing to prick himself with needles to make her smile. Yu Min is grateful to him for helping her to elope so she saves him from being punished by Jian Long after he fails to subdue the Hong Hua clan members. He is helpful to help Ou Yuan to search for Zi Yun's whereabouts when she is missing. This is so sad when he loves his half-sister but they can't get married. However, he still acknowledges Kun as his foster father.

6. Lu Ming - Li Han Yun
He is the deputy leader of Hong Hua clan. He is righteous but can be selfish to make use of Jin Hong as a helper to achieve his aim. But he is still a loyal friend to die on his behalf and telling him his real parentage. If not, he and Yu min will be in agony all their lives.

7. Ah Ji - Xue Yan
He is Jin Hong's loyal servant to stay with him through thick and thin. However, many might dislike him for supporting Zi Yun's decision to keep the truth from him when he loses his memory.

8. Princess Yu Min - Li Xiao Zai (She acts as Du Gu Feng in the China version of 'Reincarnated' with Wu Jing)
Her mother died when she was very young and thus she is pampered by the dowager. However, she is kindhearted and devoted to Jin Hong. After he is injured by her arrow, she feels very remorseful. She even gets a lucky charm from the temple and clumsily makes a cloth sachet to place it in. Jin Hong is touched to see her doing that for him. She knows some martial arts but is poor in cooking and sewing.

She is puzzled on why Jin Hong keeps a distance from her. She comes to visit him - only to see him hugging Zi Yun. This breaks her heart but she refuses to give up. She is so daring to try to kill the Hes upon knowing that arranged marriage. When that doesn''t work, she tries to change Jian Long's mind by pretending to be demure. She is a person who can't hide her feelings at long. She dislikes the empress and will show it openly. Jian Long often has trouble mediating between them.

Upon knowing the truth, she also jumps down the cliff after Jin Hong. Jian Long only manages to find her and not Jin Hong. From then, she becomes a lunatic pricking many with needles. However, she recovers but still can't forget Jin Hong. Many will be happy with the ending.

She is a natural actress and unlike Zhao Wei who can be too exaggerating at times,she is adorable and pairs well with Shao Feng.But it can be annoying when she screams and makes noises. It is simply too noisy.

9. Shen Zi Yun - Li Juan
She is the sole survivor when Kun wipes out her clan, claiming them to be rebels. She is sweet and knows no martial arts. She likes Jin Hong secretly when he saves her. Her heart beats fast when he hugs her in order to deceive Yu Min that they are a couple.

After Jin Hong jumps down the cliff, all think that Jin Hong is dead but she stubbornly thinks that he is alive. She even sets out to look for him. Ou Yan is hurt as he can see that she likes him and not treating him as a benefactor as claimed. She has some happy moments with Jin Hong when he loses his memory. To the extent of lying to others that he is not Jing Hong!

Even though she knows that Jin Hong might not like her after knowing that he is Yu Min's elder brother, she still harbours hope. When she starts to appreciate Ou Yuan's love for her, she is killed tragically by Yin Ping's killers.

She is very sweet and gentle looking. However, her acting can be improved over time.

10. Xue Ru - Fan Bing Bing
She marries into Shang Guan family upon knowing that Jian Long can never marry a Chinese. To repay Shang Guan's family's kindness towards her, she is so ruthless to switch the baby boys at birth. This is not only to save her own son but also to make sure that the Hes will hate each other. It is best if they kill themselves so that justice is done. This is such a chilly arrangement - Jing Hong's heart is totally frozen upon knowing that he has called such a ruthless woman as his mother for over 20 years. No wonder he gets so upset and angry to throw that tablet away. She is simply unpardonable!

11. Hong San Niang - Juan Zi
She is Jing Hong's ‘aunt' and tries many ways to get him to join Hong Hua clan as a great helper. Or rather she wants to have the pleasure to see how the father and son kill each other. Fortunately, she has the conscience to leave Xue Ru's last letter to Ming so that the truth will be uncovered one day.

12. Empress - Dai Chun Rong (the same actress as the empress in ‘Princess Huan Zhu')
By right, she should be happy that her son will be sitting on the throne comfortably soon but she is never satisfied. She never asks what Ou Yuan wants - even trying to fix him to be with a future wife whom he doesn''t like. She often finds fault with Yu Min and quarrels with her frequently. But she comes to realize her good points and accepts her when she saves her from staying in the cold palace.

13. The empress dowager - Xie Lin
She is a doting grandmother to Yu Min and Ou Yuan. However, many disapprove of her way to agree with Jian Long on every disastrous decision he makes. She nearly ruins her grandchildren's lives for doing this.

14. Nian Shan - Xin Lin Sha
She is actually Jian Long's legal first wife. But she is jealous towards Yu Min's mother and forces her to die. However, she herself is also injured in the fire. The dowager manages to find her after 3 days but she is terribly disfigured. She tries hard to gain Yu Min's forgiveness by treating her well since young.

15. Yin Ping - Tang Meng Yin
She is the empress's niece and also Ou Yuan's cousin. She is very willful and cunning so the siblings dislike her. Whenever she is unhappy, she will complain to her aunt. She is often at loggerheads with Yu Min as she often uses her princess authority to remind her. She will do anything to win Ou Yuan - to the extent of killing Yu Min.

Songs
The main theme is by Fei Yue Group. The sub theme is by Gao Sheng Mei. The former song sound too modern to me. Gao's voice is sweet and gentle which gives a nice feel.

Conclusion

This is considered an average drama but I adore the fighting scenes. They are realistic with no special effects. The story is very much predictable - which is so similar to Princess Huan Zhu on the guys' identity of being switched. Yu Min's unreasonable nature will also remind you of Xiao Yan Zi. However, the strong cast saves the day with their natural acting. The actresses look well and also act well. The same can be applied to the young actors too. The older veterans are disappointing. They are too stage-like at times. Do give this serial a try if you have the time.

Sukting's ratings :

On acting : ***(Scale of 5)

On story : ***(Scale of 5)


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