Curse of the Royal Harem


Reviewed by: juphelia

April 11, 2013

Rating: two-point-five

This is a show very similar to War and Beauty, except War and Beauty was set during the era of the father (Emperor Jiaqing) while Curse of the Royal Harem was set during the era of the son (Emperor Daoguang). War and Beauty was on young ladies going into the palace to be chosen as the Emperor's concubines, and backstabbing each other to gain the Emperor's favour, whereas for Curse of the Royal Harem, the concubines are already in the palace and it is between the Empress and the consorts.

The show started off with Royal Noble Consort (played by Myolie Wu), being interred as the Empress to Emperor Daoguang (played by Sunny Chan). On the day of the coronation, the Emperor received news that his sister-in-law (played by Jessica Hsuan), wife to his elder brother who was presumed dead, was to be buried alive as ordered by his step-mother the Empress Dowager (played by Gigi Wong). He immediately rushed off to save her, as he had been in love with her since young, and should his brother not gone missing, he would be the Emperor and his sister-in-law the Empress.

In order to save her life, Emperor Daoguang made her his concubine, and she became Consort Tsuen. The rest of the plot became weaker. It was on Emperor Daoguang's affections for Consort Tsuen, incurring the wrath of the Empress, and how Consort Tsuen, sick of all the backstabbing and harm to herself and her family, started fighting back, and she became even more vicious and unscrupulous than the Empress Dowager and Empress.

The show ended with Consort Tsuen being interred as Empress due to her part in squashing the coup against the Emperor, but she no longer had the Emperor's affections as he became disgusted at her change, since she was no longer the kind-hearted and good-natured girl he fell in love with anymore. However, she chose to remain vicious in order to secure her position as Empress and her son as heir to the throne, even if she made everyone hate and fear her and had to lead a lonely life.

Even though this show is similar to War and Beauty, it pales in comparison. Some parts of the plot do not make sense at all. For instance, after the Empress suffered a miscarriage, she went to seduce her ex-lover, Daoguang's younger brother Prince Sui (Joel Chan), and got pregnant again. Can that really be possible? Does someone get pregnant again so fast and easily after a miscarriage?

And she took medication to speed up her pregnancy just so she would give birth around the same time as Consort Tsuen. By right, if the Empress did not miscarry, she would have given birth earlier as she got pregnant first. But she seemed to have been pregnant for at least three months when she miscarried. After that, she seduced the Prince and got pregnant again, within a month. Can it be really that fast? I thought a woman's body need some time to recover?

So after she got pregnant again and went back to the palace, she pretended that her foetus was really small, because if she did not miscarry, the foetus would be around four months by then. When she was originally supposed to have given birth, her foetus was still small, so she told the doctor to speed up her pregnancy. In this case, she was probably pregnant for only five or six months the most before she gave birth, yet the baby came out full size as a normal full term baby.

Again, is this even possible? I have heard of drugs being administered to speed up birth, but that was for people who were already near their due date and still no signs of dilating, but in the Empress case, she was only six months pregnant, so could her pregnancy be sped up that fast?

As for Consort Tsuen, does someone change that fast? Ok, I would not say that fast, but her time as Consort was probably two years the most. During the two years, could she possibly turn from someone good and kind to someone so unscrupulous she would stop at nothing to secure her position? Even Myolie Wu as the Empress was no match for her, but then again, she wasn't that evil in the first place, just goaded by her parents to secure her position. That is why Jessica Hsuan's character development is so unbelievable because for someone with a good nature, why is there no trace of the goodness in the end?

One thing I do not like is the costumes. They look so loud and the makeup make them look garish. At least in War and Beauty, the costumes are much more understated and beautiful. The costumes here are just too colourful for my liking!

I would say if you have enough palace shows, then this can be skipped. I watch it because it is one of Jessica Hsuan's rare TVB appearances in recent years, but I would say the whole show is not captivating enough. War and Beauty and Beyond The Realm of Conscience are better shows with similar plotlines in my opinion.


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