Looking for movies or series to watch, I have stumbled upon The Princess Weiyoung, Chinese TV-series (2016). It can be found on Netflix and, surprisingly, online. A catch: the series were not synchronized. Therefore, I was excited to hear Mandarin and prepared to follow (English) subtitles.
To be honest, I had to pull myself through the first five episodes, because, to my taste, the plot was developing quite slowly. The story starts with the birth of Feng Xin’er, the princess of Northern Liang (one of the provinces on the north of China). Shortly after, Liang is taken under control by the Northern Wei and Xin’er’s family is being killed. The young princess manages to escape. She founds shelter in a remote village, where she meets Li Weiyong, the daughter of the Prime Minister of Wei. Unfortunately, Li Weiyoung dies, helping Xin’er, so the princess takes her friend’s identity, to be able to return to her “family”. From now on, there is no more Xin’er, but Li Weiyoung, who adjusts to her new life and is seeking revenge.
The plot is pretty well developed (as soon as one gets through the first five episodes and gets to know the main characters), but not too “soapy”. What I liked most, were main characters, Li Weiyoung and Tuoba Jun (whose relationship develops through the story). One can only admire spectacular efforts of Tiffany Tang and Luo Jin, who are creating such a breathtaking story. There are, of course, evil masterminds, such as the Emperor’s relative Tuoba Yu (Vanness Wu), the daughter of the Prime Minister Li Changle (Li Xinai) and her ambitious mother Chiyun Rou (Lili Tien).
Music and costumes are to be praised separately. Through the first couple of series, I was paying more attention to costumes’ details, colors’ choice, complex hairstyles and jewelry rather than the plot. It is as enjoyable as art, where one can always discover something new. Music is supporting but not distracting and provides a suitable background for the settings; there are some lovely songs as well. Some Chinese musical instruments are also being used, adding more beauty and authenticity to the whole picture.
There are, or course, a number of flaws. One is the representation of martial arts, in particular, the fighting scenes. Some of them have vividly reminded me “The Matrix” or fights of some super-heroes, because no human being is able to jump the way the actors do, as well as disabling seven soldiers with just one hand with a sword or a thick bamboo stick. The other interesting point is the expression of characters’ emotions. Maybe it can be explained by the oriental culture, but it took me some time to get used to the fact that even in suffering, the characters stay calm and (silent) tears or a short desperate shout are the paramount of one’s feelings.
I can compare “The Princess Weiyoung” to “Magnificent Century” (Turkey, 2011-2014), in terms of music, costumes and story. In the Chinese drama, however, you will not find an exaggerated amount of hysterics or fainting. Instead, be prepared to see plotting, poisoning, homicide, darkest intentions covered by sweet smiles and courtesy, as well as wonderful martial arts (performed by some female characters, as well). Love, suffer, sacrifice and loyalty wrap up the picture nicely. It is, therefore, highly recommended!
1. Movieplot.de (the illustration)