I’ve never watched Story of Yanxi Palace. I’d heard of it and seen random episodic recaps and news about the period drama but between running this site and juggling two kids I just never found the time to sit down and indulge in a 70 episode Chinese drama. In a way, Yanxi Palace: Princess Adventures is like a bite-size version of that drama, offering up some juicy character tension, romance and gorgeous production design in an easily digestible 6 episode format. Although fans of the original are likely to get more out of this, even newcomers won’t find themselves too out of depth with this one if the first episode is anything to go by.
Episode 1 of Yanxi Palace: Princess Adventures wastes no time getting right the heart of the drama. Princess Zhaohua sits disinterested in her palace as servants approach with offerings; Prince Chaoyong has arrived and she needs to look her best. As flashbacks of the past echo in her mind, she approaches the Hall Of Mental Cultivation where inside, she sees Lhawang berated by his superior. Cornering him outside, we learn more about this Princess of the Xing Dynasty, as well as her pre-arranged marriage to him.
Imperial guard Fuk’anngan corners her soon after though, teasing her and telling the princess if she strikes him then they have to be wed. Zhaohua immediately storms up to her Father and demand Lhawang be killed. He scoffs at this, of course, and as they talk the Queen Yingluo arrives and immediately berates her daughter over the proposed marriage, telling her she needs to convince him to love her. The task is simple (albeit a difficult one) and as her daughter leaves in a huff, she reflects on the gravity of the situation.
With renewed hope, Zhaohua heads to see Lhawang but instead finds Princess Siwan there, leading her to smash a vase on the floor before calling guards into the room and having them slap DingXiaong’s face. As Lhawang arrives, Zhaohua takes her leave, straight back to the Queen where she asks to break off the wedding agreement. Instead, Yingluo goes on to divulge details around the Kingdom and just why the marriage itself is so important.
She storms out, right up to Fuk’anggan who goes on to tell her the rage she’s been whirl-winding across the palace won’t work to win Lhawang’s heart. Instead, he offers his assistance in winning him over. She takes his advice and breaks off the engagement while Fuca watches from afar. Lhawang goes on to tell her he doesn’t dislike her and it seems like Fuk’anggan’s plan may have worked. Only, Princess Siwan arrives and Zhaohua immediately shows her true colours, lashing out at the Princess as Lhawang takes offence to her words. Unfortunately this rage spills over to Fuk’anggan too, who visits the Emperor, accepting the punishment of 80 canes while he requests Zhaohua follow him inside.
Once there, she asks why Fuk’anggan’s being caned. He dodges the question and instead brings him inside. As he struggles to stand, we find out he’s being punished for his past mistakes involving the maid scandal mentioned earlier in the episode. He promises to never take a wife and begs forgiveness, prompting the Emperor to show mercy, thanks in part to Zhaohua’s influence where we leave the episode.
Aside from a couple of clumsy bits of editing (no blood in one scene for DingXiang’s face, then a close-up reveals some oozing from her mouth), Princess Adventures gets off to a good start, introducing all our key characters of the show and inviting some old players into the fold too. Many people will likely recognise the Queen too, given she was the lead protagonist in the previous show, and coupled with some beautiful imagery and costume design, the show certainly looks set for a decent mini-series to follow. So far so good!
|Yanxi Palace: Princess Adventures is available to watch on Netflix. Feel free to click here and sign up now to check this show out!|