It’s finally here! I’ve been waiting for this drama since the beginning of 2012, ever since I heard that Ming Dao was going into historical dramas. Ming Dao is one of the most versatile taiwanese actors I’ve seen. This is a lot better than that Lady Maid crap that’s playing in Taiwan right now. I’ve liked Ming Dao ever since he was in Legend of the Star Apple with babyface Achel Chang. This drama has take its sweet time to get to broad cast, but with Ming Dao, Chen Qiao En, and Luo Jin (another VERY good actor who did Mu Gui Ying Dai Shuai: Mu Gui Ying Becomes General) the acting should be top notch.
Ming Dao plays Xiang Yiu a famed Emperor who loses the battle of succession to Liu Bang (Luo Jin), the founding Emperor of Han dynasty. Chen Qiao En plays the powerful queen Han Empress Lu Zhi. I’m guessing they will explore the “love story” between the three main characters.
The Kingdom of Chen and Wei are fighting, Chen has Wei surrounded. While the soldiers are fighting outside, a young boy and his teacher are sitting above the fight, watching it happen. The boy asks why they are fighting and the teacher answers that it’s laziness and greed that drives the people. The boy Yun-er says that when he grows up he’s going to make everyone listen to him. If they don’t he’ll beat them until they do. The teacher glances at him, a little dissapointed and disconcerted.
In the palace, a young woman is dancing in front of her child, Miao Ge. She asks if Miao Ge likes her dancing and the young daughter replies that she loves it. The woman says that she will make her daughter the most beautiful woman, so that entire nations will fall at her feet. The woman teaches her daughter that only beautiful woman can make men do her liking. Just that moment, the woman’s husband, the general falls into the room. He says their kingdom is falling, and that they should follow it to the grave. The woman hesitates before nervously suggesting he rest and drink a cup of wine. After the woman pours the wine, he switches the cups without her knowing. She drinks with him. He falls to the floor, and she grabs a sword telling her daughter that if a man can’t protect a woman, he isn’t fit to have her. Just then the real poison starts to work and she falls to the floor. He grabs his daughter, saying that they will break out, leaving the woman dying on the floor.
The man fights the army with his daughter in tow. He makes it to the border but the other army has archers. Seeing no way to protect his daughter, he literally bends a shield around her body and wraps himself around that. He tells her something before he dies. Not long after, a man and his daughter to look for scrap metal, and they find a catatonic Miao Ge underneath the shield and the body of her father. They take her in because the daughter takes a liking to Miao Ge. Actually, the daughter is hilariously bully-ish towards her father, who withers under her pleas. Miao Ge is actually taken in by a wealthy family named Lu (The girl who takes her in is the future Lu Zhi) and they adopt her as the younger daughter.
As they grow older Miao Ge becomes a beautiful young lady with manner and grace while her older sister Lu Zhi AKA Le-Er, the young girl who saved her is a book worm and do not like women’s work. Her mother says that embrodiery is very important to her, if her man doesn’t want her, she can use it to support herself. Le-Er argues back that it’s idiotic to bend over backwards for a hazy future man who not only might abandon her, but also expects her to be stupid. The mother worries that Le-er is too smart and that she will be in trouble for her smartness in her day and age.
Miao Ge speaks to Le-Er, who compares being married to a stranger- one that she has to respect and love for her entire life, to death. She asks if there is any meaning in that. Miao Ge says that it’s the natural order- does she not want to get married? Le-Er says she does, but she wants to find her own. What Le_Er actually does, is go to a dance house in disguise as a dancer. She’s masked and dances to a veiled stranger who does not acknowledge her presence. She finds his abivilance disarming and follows him, a few lackyes try to keep her from leaving. The stranger rescures her and beats the other men up. He takes her away and she asks for his name. He says that since they will never meet again, he won’t tell her.
Le-Er comes back into the house as her mother is giving the new concubine a bracelet. Le-Er is angry at her mother, who explains that by never giving Le-Er’s father a boy, she has always felt bad. This is heaven’s will. Le-Er says that it’s bull, and asks if she’s really content that way. It’s still better than having him see women on the outside, her mother replies. Le-Er asks if her father has been doing that, why does she not confront him? Her mother asks what could she say or do? It’s natural for all men to behave this way, if so, then it’s better to have a concubine. Also, since the mother had chosen the concubine, if the concubine ever has a son, at least she won’t harm Le-Er. Because she’ll be greatful to Le-Er’s mother. This is all for Le-Er’s protection. Le-Er replies that she doesn’t want this kind of scheming protection.
Le-Er tells Miao Ge that she feels her mom is pitiful, she only wants to find a love that will love her. Miao Ge is confused. At night we get to see what Father Lu is really doing. He’s really a weapons merchant and has been selling to interested parties. Le-Er followed her dad and gets caught. Le_Er yells at her dad for being an opportunistic merchant, when he has always taught her that war is terrible. Le-Er get slapped and runs away. She’s sick and get’s picked up by Ming Dao’s character Xiang Yu.
Le-Er wakes up and tells her dad that even if she isn’t a boy she is as smart as one and can take care of the house. Her father tells her that she’s right, she’s an adult. It’s time to tell her the secret
This version of Lu Zhi is not only right off the bat my favorite, but shows a backbone that hints at the ruthlessness that will one day characterize Lu Zhi’s reign. However for now, we see the idealistic, feministic, kind girl who was raised in a loving home with a doting father and a strict mother. I think that this version waxes way too much about the life of a woman in ancient china. It’s almost like they are stuffing it down our throats that Le-Er is different from the rest. On the other hand, the story is addictive and fast pace. Ming Dao and Chen Qiao En’s attraction to each other is palpable and it’s great that they have such chemistry.