Palace: The Locked Heart Jade

Reviewed by: sukting

March 03, 2013

Rating: two-point-five

Year produced: 2011
How long: 35 episodes

Qingchuan travels through time and ends up in the 1700s, in the Forbidden City, during the reign of the Kangxi Emperor. She meets her favourite historical figure, the fourth prince Yinzhen, the future Yongzheng Emperor. However, her wisdom and knowledge of the future puts her right in the middle of the heated competition for the throne. Can she change history? Whom will she choose to love?

Story/Introduction on characters
1. Yang Mi as Luo Qing Chuan
She is a time traveller who gets into Qing dynasty when running after a Qing lady drawing in the modern times as an antique shop owner. She ends up being a court lady for Xi Bin but often gets bullied by the others as she isn't sure of the rules. Knowing history well, she has not wanted to accept Yinsi initially to seduce Yinzhen instead to strengthen her position in the palace.

Yinzhen doesn't succumb to her at all so she starts accepting Yinsi to marry him to become a loving couple. She has thought the history is the same as she imagines but realises it is not to be so. Seeing how ugly politics are, she decides to bring Yinsi into the future.

Yang simultaneously played Huaying, a spy sent by Yinxiang who resembles Qingchuan in appearance. It causes lots of confusion when the two women are arrested and the princes can't tell them apart. Ching Chuan is requested not to tell her identity as Huaying is already pregnant with Yinsi's child. Knowing that Yinzhen will harm them, she is determined to change Yinsi into an emperor.

She also realises how much Yinzhen loves her but since Yinzhen must make sure that there is stability in the country, she cannot be with him. Thus, she rejects the chance to be the empress and gets imprisoned with Yinsi. Her acting is good and her periodic look is sweet.

2. Feng Shaofeng as Yinsi, the eighth prince
He has thought that Qing Chuan is a materialistic girl so he leaves her outside the palace. Later, he realises that she is sweet and falls for her although she is only a palace maid. He gets anxious when she has a fever. He risks his life to save her when she is about to put to death. His mother is a lowly concubine so he wants the best. Not just for himself but also for his mother and Qing Chuan.

He becomes scheming but loses in the throne battle to get imprisoned. He finally realises his true love is Qing Chuan to come to the present – in Qing costume to run into her shop. Many take photos of him outside her shop and wonders what the fuss is about. When she sees him, both hug tightly together. He isn't very dashing but he acts out his role competently.

3. He Sheng Ming as Yinzhen, the fourth prince
He is unscrupulous and cruel. To gain Yinreng's trust, he can injure himself to add blood to his medicine to pretend to help him to get well. He even poisons the crown price to death. Initially, he wants to kill Qing Chuan but loves her in the process when she shields him from assassination. He doesn't know why he misses her when she goes missing after nearly drowned in the lake by Jinzhi.

Every woman to him is just a pawn to gain success. He can give Qing Chuan away to Yinreng and Suyan first to Yinreng and later to Yinti to gain their trust. He is down when she belongs to Yinsi. He may have lots of women but he loves none of them. All will get disappointed on this selection of the fourth prince. He isn't as commanding in presence as a prince or emperor as he is supposed to be although he is quite fine in evil scenes.

4. Kwok Sin Nei as Consort Xi Bin,
She is the Kangxi Emperor's concubine who is jealous, pitiful and also cunning. She is jealous of De. Due to Qing Chuan's help, she wears roller skates to wish the emperor happy birthday. She senses that Yunsi is concerned over Qing Chuan and forces him to join forces with her.

She isn't strong and longs for power to safeguard herself. She only wants to stay in the palace in peace but fate disallows this to force her into the abyss. She becomes a terror to all when her daughter dies of an illness due to lack of care as she is confined to the cold palace. She later dies in the struggle. The man she loves most comes to the palace as an eunuch but also dies in her hands. How she has changed from her usual demure roles in TVB. She looks stunning here as the vicious woman.

5. Tong Liya as Nian Suyan (Tong Suyan)
She is once a beggar who is rescued by Yinzhen to work for his spy after learning martial arts. She becomes a palace maid for Xin Bin but later works for Yinreng. She often helps Qing Chuan and both are close. She feels bad for causing the eighteenth's prince death when she tries to burn Yinreng to death. Yinzhen consoles her, citing that sacrifices must be done.

After that, she becomes Yinzhen's concubine but rears a big pot of butterflies to get through the lonely days. Yinzhen only visits her due to political reasons. He treats her like a guest. She spends lots of tricks to marry him but his war is victory-defeat mixed. She vows – even though she might not become the woman he loves most, she must be his most useful woman.

She discovers that she can never get his love and chooses to come to the future with Jin Liang. Her presence isn't that strongly felt as all the actresses are beautiful. Her portrayal is satisfactory but not as excellent as Mi.

6. Tong Chun Yip as the Kangxi Emperor
Nothing matters to him more than his country to choose the correct successor. He knows the rivalry between his sons but he is helpless. He has selected Yinzhen to be his successor and is surprised that Dee doesn't like his choice. He is curious to know why all the princes are close to Qing Chuan and gets her to work under him. He is impressed by her modern knowledge.

I know it is unthinkable for Chun Yip to be an emperor but this is true! He does have the makings of an emperor but not as formidable as Lau Chung Yan.

7. Lau Suet Wah as Imperial Consort De
Kangxi pampers her most and she dotes on Yinzhen the most. She looks weak on appearance but she is a smooth talker and political influence. Just a few words from her can make Yunreng rebel against Kangxi. She is surely a deep one. Thumbs up for this veteran actress's convincing acting.

8. Shiu Mei Kei as Imperial Consort Liang,
She is Yinsi's biological mother and is also Su Jin Liang – Qing Chuan's father's junior in modern day. She accidentally comes to the past after discovering a box in her garden. Qing Chuan has seen her disappear when she is young and is determined to find the truth.

She tries looking for the solution to return to the present but to no avail. Kangxi deems her evil as she is often sneaky and banishes her to stay in the cold palace. She warns Qing Chuan of changing the history or they will vanish but she will not listen. She discovers the way to return and tries bringing Qing Chuan along with her but she is adamant to face Yinzhen herself so she leaves first.

Shiu simultaneously played Lady Heseri, the Kangxi Emperor's first empress. Sweet, kind and gentle – this is why her son is chosen to be the crown prince. Unlike her boyish images in TVB, Shiu becomes very feminine here and is very subdue in her acting.

9. He Yan Ni as Xueru,
She is the crown princess and Yinreng's wife. Like Yinreng, she is contented with what she has and remains by his side.

10. Liu Bin as Yin'e, the tenth prince
He is called the blur tenth as he can be foolish at times to make plenty of mistakes. He is a frank person and all wonders how he survives in the palace.

11. Tian Zhenwei as Yinxiang, the 13th prince.
He is also ruthless to want to kill the emperor and Yunsi upon knowing that Yunsi stands a chance to be the crown price. He gets Jinzhi to steal Yunzhen's authority pass to command Nian Gen Yao to kill but the plan fails. Hua Ying is indignant that he only passes her too little money. Thus, she will become the empress if Yunsi becomes the emperor so she betrays Yinxiang.

12. Mao Zijun as Yinti, the 14th prince He is young and frank. He does not go through the power struggles and insists on believing that all are good. He loves Su Yan and is willing to give up everything to win her love. He is upset to get drunk on Yunzhen's wedding day upon knowing that his bride is Suyan. He is touched to see how close Yunsi is with Qing Chuan and visits them daily.

13. Ma Wenlong as Yintang, the ninth prince.
All call him the poison nine and he is scheming to want to help Yinsi to be the emperor.

14. Wang Xianghong as Gu Xiaochun He is Qingchuan's friend in the palace. Bitter with the treatment he gets, he seeks to rebel to escape from the palace.

15. Xu Qi Wen as Jinzhi,
She is the fourth princess consort and Yinzhen's primary spouse. She is deeply in love with Yinzhen and is easily jealous. Yinzhen doesn't not allow his weakness to be shown so the other princes will normally tail her to find the flaws. She is reckless and doesn't hide her feelings. Although she tries killing Qing Chuan, she also sacrifies her life for Yinzhen.

16. Zong Fengyan as Yinreng, the crown prince
He is sensitive and weak. He is initially attracted by Qing Chuan's beauty and Yinzhen plans to give her to him. Although he is of high position, he is frightened daily that he will be replaced. His nightmare comes true when he is imprisoned due to 18th prince death. He goes through two reinstates and replacements.

17. Zhang Tong as Princess Bingyue
She is the princes' aunt who enjoys staying outside the palace. The princes visit her when free.

18. Xi Xue as Ningxiang, a Mongol princess
Qing Chuan is jealous as this Mongol princess is close to Yunsi. She later marries the 13th prince.

19. Li Qindong as Nian Gengyao
He is Yinzhen's best ally but is later drowned in the lake during an attack.

20. Ren Xue Hai as Li De Hai
He is Kangxi's personal eunuch is close to Yinzhen and helps him a lot.

Interesting facts
Palace won the top four newcomer awards at the 2011 New Forces Grand Ceremony

The TV station had announced that they would want to use the sad ending. It had Yinsi dead in jail with Qing Chuan being forced to marry Yinzhen. Yet, the last episode showed Qing Chuan reunited with Yinsi in the present. Although they were satisfied, they questioned if this was only a promotion.

All the actors dreamed to act as the devoted Yinsi after reading the script. The producer had a hard time choosing the actor. The producer Yu Zheng wanted a fair picture of the two princes – they are not totally good or bad. The music was from the group who improvised from ‘War of beauty'. He also shot the famous 《美人心计》.

Most favourite character
Yinsi, he is steadfast in love and knows what he needs or wants.

Most hated character
Yinzhen, he is too selfish to think only for himself and makes use of schemes or other women to achieve his aim for him.

The song《爱的供养》and 《见或不见》are by Sheng Ming and Mi. Quite okay to listen to.

As I watched ‘Bu Bu Jing Xin' before this drama, it contains no surprises for me. The story runs in parallel fashion - even the part where Qing Chuan chills the deserts is similar. It definitely kills all the suspense. Moreover, the fun element isn't as much as it is serious all the way. Qing Chuan here is portrayed weaker than Ruo Xi to make the princes worry for her safety every now and then.
It makes matters more complicated when the actors as the princes aren't familiar to me and I have a hard time following the story. When they come for a group meeting, gosh….I can't tell them apart! It doesn't help much when I discover that their clothes are made shorter than their heights. If you are looking for handsome faces, I'm afraid most look common and do not belong to the ‘flower boy' department. Furthermore, their acting isn't striking to leave a deep impression.

Neither am I familiar with the actresses although they are quite pretty. But they take lesser time for me to know them as their personalities are distinctive. Luckily, the ‘elders' of the palace are HK artistes that I recognise. They hold the fort as the supporting cast but it is a pity that their scenes are fewer in comparison. If you like palace struggles or Qing dramas, this is the right drama for you. However, the cast isn't of top notch as ‘Bu Bu Jing Xin' so you need to lower your expections.

Sukting's ratings :
On acting : *** (Scale of 5)
On story : **1/2 (Scale of 5)
On songs : **1/2 (Scale of 5)

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