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War and Beauty
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War and Beauty (30 Episodes)
*Reviewed by TVB Square

Main Characters:
Maggie Cheung, Sheren Tang, Charmaine Sheh, Gigi Lai, Bowie Lam, Moses Chan, Jade Leung

A Little History + Introduction
During the Qing Dynasty, under Emperor Jiaxing's control, the country appears to be in harmony. However, fights between the imperial concubines escalate. The main females characters you see in this series actually exist in the real history. Emperor Jiangxing's favorite concubine is Ru Yuet concubine (played by Sheren), the fight between her and the Empress is really big. This is true in the history, just like the series describes. Now let's talk about the concubines. In this real history, Emperor Jiaxing has two Empress (one died long ago), and many other concubines. The concubines are distinguished in levels. The low level is Da Ying or Chan Zai, that is the first level Charmaine and Gigi were in, they were chosen to be the concubines, of those who got to stay, becomes Da Ying. If they are lucky enough to sleep with the emperor, they can go to the next level, which is Gui Ren or get into the Bin level. Usually, they rise from Gui Ren to Bin, but if you are lucky enough, you can go from Da Ying to Bin directly. The Fei level is even higher than the Bin level, if you get to that level, you will most likely becomes Gui Fei, which is in the top level of the concubines (If you saw the series, "Legend of Lady Yeung", lady Yeung is in the Gui Fei level). Then, you can go even higher, and you can be very powerful. The highest among the concubines, that is Huang Gui Fei, Sheren Tang (in the real history) is in that level, she has power to against the Empress. Both Charmaine and Gigi are in the Gui Ren level. As for Maggie, she was originally a servant, which is true in history, she rises to the Gui Ren level as will.

At the beginning of the story, you see the main characters are strictly against each other, so that they can become Emperor's favorite concubine. As the story goes along, each characters experienced different things and encountered different people in life. Those, however, changed their destiny. Inside the palace, there is unfinished battle between the concubines, and among them, only one can really leave this sad place...

 

Series Links
Story summary and episode guide (skip)

 

 

THE FACTORS
- Dislike Factor / Love Factor?
The Female Casts
You will dislike all the female casts at the beginning because all of them are playing evil, but you will also like them because of their performances for being evil. From all of the female casts, the one character you will hate is the Empress, because she is the real evil one. Everyone else has their pity story, only the Empress is the one who wants everyone else died.

Among the four lead casts, Sheren is my favorite. You might dislike her at the beginning, however, it is the Empress who made Sheren that way. Sheren has lost a baby because of the Empress, so she has no choice other than fighting to survive. Even when she became unpopular, she still fights to stand tall. It is a pity that she has to lose another baby, but she is strong enough to stand against the Empress and successed. Charmaine is my second favorite, you might dislike her at the beginning when she successfully get rid of Gigi, but her love for Bowie will soon change your mind. Towards the end, she doesn't want to fight any more, all she does is to help Bowie. Now, let's talk about Gigi, she is the character you will have many questions about. As you should know, she pretends to be stupid, so that she can become powerful, Bowie knows that too. However, Bowie's obsession towards Gigi changed both of their destiny. Does Gigi loves Bowie? Why she uses Bowie to get what she wanted? All of these are questionable, as the audiences, we might misunderstand her sometimes, but the ending clearly tells us about the answers to all. As for Maggie, sure, her character is pitiful because revenge is the path she took. But, she can take many other paths as well. I don't find her character's story very interesting, maybe I am just not a big supporter of her character.

What about the Male Casts
Other than the Emperor, who basically didn't do anything in the series, there are only two main leads: Bowie and Moses. At the beginning, I don't like Moses at all, he only thinks about becoming an official for the Emperor, fame and money is what he is seeking for. Then, he met Maggie, by the way, I found Moses and Maggie's love story extremely boring. Then, by an accident, Moses becomes the Emperor's favorite official. However, Maggie decided to break their relationship apart. That is when Moses met Sheren, and that is when I began to like Moses' character, because I found Sheren and Moses' relationship much more interesting. Now, let's talk about Bowie, this is the one character you will love from the beginning to the end. First, you found him very interesting, very smart, he knows what the concubines are doing. Second, he is smart, but also foolish enough to fall in love with Gigi, but you will also pity for him as he is willing to do anything for Gigi. Third, you will understand why so many girls fall in love with her, including Charmaine and Jade. He is a very good doctor, who takes care of his patients very well, he is also good at keeping secrets. Finally, but not the last, he is willing to die for his love even though he didn't think Gigi will love him back. Bowie says his heart is dead, but his heart still belongs to Gigi, that is why he keeps helping her and going back to the palace for her, because of that, he finally got his answers to this question: does Gigi loves him?

 

- Pity Factor
Sheren Tong
Not only she lost a daughter, she also lost an unborn child, her background is the most pitiful, and yet the most interesting. Sheren is the only survivor, who can really lives in the palace. She doesn't want to leave there because she once said, the palace is her life, her grave. Even after she met Moses, who she falls in love with, she still chooses not to go with him, because the palace is everything she is... After many years of battle, she learns how to survive, she knows how to be herself. The palace is her destiny, this will never change whether she met Moses or not...

Jade Leung
Among all of the casts, Jade is the one who loves Bowie the most, I think. Think about it, she even poisons herself so that she can keep Bowie as her doctor. She is willing to give up all the fame, all the power, and chooses to become an long-term patient, so that Bowie will keep helping her. She also knows Bowie will not love her back, but that wasn't what she was hoping for, all she wanted is to see him every once a while... When you watched episode 29, you have no choice other than falling in love with character. Before Jade's death, she told Bowie about her feelings and asked her to help Charmaine get out of the palace. Such a wonderful sister, she dies so that she can protect Charmaine...

Charmaine Sheh
The two sisters (Jade and Charmaine) share the same fate, they both were used by the man who separated them. They both are the concubines, who slept with the man they don't love. They both falling in love with the man who will not love them back. Comparing to Jade, Charmaine gets a little lucky, because she is the only survivor who left the palace. However, you will still pity for her, because her love for Bowie. At the beginning, she got so jealous of Gigi that she becomes very selfish. At that moment, you will dislike her, but soon, you will pity for her as she learns the fact that Bowie will never love her back. Towards the end, she even tries to help Bowie and Gigi, all these sacrifices are big, but what she got is nothing...

Bowie and Gigi
I don't want to give out too much of the ending, by saying Charmaine is the only survivor who left the palace, I think I already tell you enough. Bowie and Gigi's ending is unchangeable, if you want to blame, you can only blame the Empress, or the script-writer. You can also feel pity for them, but you will also be satisfied with the answer to this question: Does Gigi loves Bowie? When you watched episode 30, you will sure know the answer to that question. I think they are pitiful because of their relationship. Bowie loves Gigi, this forbidden love relationship changed their destiny totally. From the moment when Gigi slaps Bowie and asks him, "is it worth?" You will wish they can end up together, and sure enough, that is going to happen, but in a tragic way...

 

- Best Scenes
1. At the beginning, when Charmaine and her two "sisters" are working together to get rid of Gigi, but the mission ends up unsuccessful as two of the "sisters" died... The strategies they used to against each other is very cool to watch
2. When the audiences learned that Charmaine begins to love Bowie, she becomes selfish, she did everything to keep Gigi away, and she successed. However, Bowie's heart is already belongs to Gigi...
3. When Gigi takes the poisoned food to Bowie, she confesses to him, but she still wants Bowie dead. Bowie knows the food is poisoned, but he still tries to eat it. This scene is very emotional as Gigi finally learns how much Bowie loves her, he is even willing to die for her.
4. When Jade Leung (Charmaine's sister) decided not to tell Charmaine that she is her sister. Jade is such a great person, she doesn't want Charmaine to know the person Charmaine works for is actually using her...
5. When Sheren's daughter died, that was a tragic scene. After so many things Sheren did to save her own daughter, but the baby still died... Sheren took the dead baby out and cried so heavily... You will need lots of tissues for this scene
6. When Gigi told Bowie that she will use their baby to rebuild her destiny. Bowie realizes Gigi only uses him, but he is willing to help her
7. When Bowie cuts his finger and confesses to his father. Bowie regrets about her obsession towards Gigi, and he realized it is time for him to awake. However, he will not harm his own baby
8. Jade Leung's death, that scene is also one of the most tragic scene in the series. We also learned that fact that Jade is deeply in love with Bowie, because of that, she poisoned herself throughout the years... Jade suicide because she wants to save Charmaine, Jade also asks Bowie to take Charmaine out of the palace
9. The question, "is it worth?" Many people asked Bowie that question. Gigi asked him when she realized he is willing to die for her, Charmaine asked him when Bowie keeps going back to the palace for her, Bowie's father asked him when Bowie won't say anything about the forbidden love... This is the question you will ask him, Bowie, why keeps loving Gigi when he knows there is no result? Bowie doesn't know the answer, but sure enough, he found it out at the very last episode. The audiences will know the answers as well. Is it worth?

 

THE COMMENTS
- The Performances
The best actress award goes to the one and only Sheren, her performances were the most unforgettable, especially when she takes her died baby and cries her heart out... For those of you who watched the cantonese version, which shows the real voice. You will find Gigi's voice annoying, because she takes a very big breath before she speaks. This is why I don't like her that much, but her performances were also unforgettable. I have to admit that Gigi does her crying scenes really really well. I also have to mention Charmaine, I really think she improves so much throughout the years, her great performances in this show really proved that. Maggie was only OK, I found her character little boring, sorry... As for the best actor award, I will give it to Bowie, because I love his character way too much

- The Storyline
The first 10 episodes are breath-takers, they are good, they are great, and they are interesting. After that, the story slows down a little bit, however, it is still very interesting to watch. I enjoyed the story more towards the end, because of the way the series turns into a tragic. This storyline is also very originally, very refreshing.

- Worth Watching?
This is the must see series, different audiences will get different things out of this series. The performances are great, you will become a fan of any of the main character. I think this series is very enjoyable, it has its breath-taking scenes, it has its romantic scenes, it has its tragic scenes.

 

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War and Beauty
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5 - Excellent
4 - Good
3 - OK
2 - Could be better
1 - A little slow


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