“Beauty at War” is Too Confusing

Above: Eddie Kwan and Moses Chan as opera singers in “Beauty at War”.

Beauty at War <金枝慾孽貳>, the highly anticipated sequel to 2004’s TVB blockbuster hit War and Beauty <金枝慾孽>, finally premiered on April 22, 2013 on TVB Jade. The 30-episode sequel stars Sheren Tang (鄧萃雯) reprising her role as Consort Yu, who is a victim of gossip and rumors created by her younger sister, Consort Dowager Shun (Christine Ng 伍詠薇). It was these harmful rumors that created the story of War and Beauty, which had presented Consort Yu to be a ruthless leader.

The critically acclaimed War and Beauty was 2004’s drama of the year and was a key contributor to the popularity of palace-scheming dramas in the Chinese television industry. War and Beauty ended with high ratings and revived the careers of Gigi Lai (黎姿) and Sheren Tang. The Qing dynasty series also carried the epithet, “legendary drama”, while producer Jonathan Chik (戚其義) and scriptwriter Chow Yuk Ming (旭明) were called the “legendary duo”.

However, Beauty at War may not reach the same “legendary” recognition as its predecessor.

Confusing Premiere

The general consensus of opinion on the first episode of Beauty at War, which aired on April 22, was “confusing, with too many side characters being introduced at once.” The first episode opened with a late Qing dynasty government official kneeling in front of the Hall of Supreme Harmony at the Forbidden City. Puyi – Qing China’s last emperor in history – confronts the hopeful official and firmly tells him that the Qing Dynasty’s imperial power is over.

The scene then does a confusing time jump to 100 years back to the past, during the reign of Emperor Jiaqing. The Kunqu troupe leader, Cheung Kuk Sang (Du Yange 杜燕歌), tells a story to a chamber-full of men on how Consort Yu forced a palace maid to marry a eunuch. This rumor is a reference to an episode of War and Beauty, in which the palace maid On Sin (Maggie Cheung Ho Yee 張可頤) was forced to marry a eunuch.

A separate story arc involving Ada Choi’s (蔡少芬) Sheung Lin and Tracy Ip’s (葉翠翠) Shu Lan, was also introduced in the first episode. Tracy was criticized for her dull acting and netizens noted that Tracy recited her script like she was reading a book. Someone commented, “[Tracy] drags down the whole show.”

Significant characters such as Rachel Kan’s (簡慕華) Yee Ho, Katy Kung’s (龔嘉欣) Muk Do Yee, Christine Kuo’s (苟芸慧) Chin Yui, Stanley Cheung’s (張景淳) Sit Tung Shing, and Moses Chan’s (陳豪) Ko Lau Fei all debuted onscreen one by one, adding more confusing relationships for the viewers to keep track of.

The second episode, which aired the following day, garnered quite the opposite reaction from viewers. Instead of being bustled with character introductions, the second episode was criticized for its slow pace and its overemphasis of kunqu. A netizen expressed, “I don’t know if the housewives will have patience for this.”

The episode introduced Alice Chan (陳煒) as kunqu hua dan, Kwok Yuen Ching, who is neglected by her lover, Ko Lau Fei. Almost half of the episode was dedicated to the kunqu performances of Alice and Moses, and many netizens admitted that the performance, though strategically filmed, was boring to watch.

However, some were still quite supportive of the episode, expressing, “Actually, I did not even bother to listen to what they were singing in [the kunqu scene]. If you are not familiar with kunqu, you wouldn’t have understood it anyway. [What I was] more interested in was their acting and their eyes. Did anyone see how sad Alice’s eyes looked? The way how she and Moses looked at each when they were performing? Awesome scene.”

Source: Apple Daily, Apple Daily

This article is written by Addy for JayneStars.com.

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  1. Too much and they say it’s confusing. Too little and they say it’s boring. I think people are jumping to conclusions too quickly.

    1. Absolutely agree. It is ridiculous to make a big conclusion “confusing” after watching Ep. # 1. I agree that the story could have started better with less characters and less conversations, and just concentrated on a few characters. But people didn’t even give themselves a chance to make better judgements by watching a few more episodes. After all, “Beauty at War” is a sequel of a classic drama series, and not a comedy or action drama series. Anyway there were not that many TVB ancient drama series which would attractive audience right away in their very first episode.

    2. Ep 2 is as confusing as ep 1. The criticisms are fair this time. I was also confused.

  2. Confused is defiantly how I felt after 5 mins into the first episode! aha I think theres too many characters. Even war and beauty I had to keep referring to wiki!

  3. I personally like Tracy Ip’s acting though.. :3

    1. She is definitely much better than Christine Kuo anytime.

      1. totally agreed! Christine Kuo’s accent is so annoying for a drama taking place in the dynasties.

    2. Tracy Ip’s acting was not amazing, but she was adequate. Her facial expressions might not be that great, but she was okay in speaking her dialogues very clearly and with proper expressions.

      There is no comparison between Tracy Ip and Christine Kuo in acting or in speaking dialogues in “Beauty at War”. Christine Kuo is totally unacceptable in acting classical ancient drama series.

      It is already hard to understand the classical Chinese dialogues unless the artistes speak with articulation, and Christine Kuo cannot even speak proper Cantonese in modern drama series. She is just a disaster in “Beauty at War”. Very surprised that she was one of the cast members.

      1. Tracy’s acting got totally RIPPED by Ada Choi, who was just epic. You could tell that Tracy was trying so hard, but just couldn’t make it. You could tell she was just reading from the script and wasn’t fully into character mode. I notice that with these new artists (cough cough Christine and Aimee etc), sub par acting skills and just ploughing away from the script with no real attack.

      2. I just love it when they put a sub par actress with a top fa dan actress together in one scene, just shows how big the gap is- ie Ada and Tracy, Christine and Sheren. Sheren esp, Christine’s acting skills was so horrible that you couldn’t help feel a little sorry for Sheren.

      3. I did feel sorry for Sheren Tang to have such a terrible maid who could not even speak proper Cantonese and show her facial expressions, not to mention her inner emtoions. Ha ha ………..

    3. That also happened to Gigi Lai and Charmaine Sheh in “War & Beauty”. I think it was entirely due to scriptwriter Chow Yuk Ming’s fault for handing out “flying paper” scripts at the very last minute. How could those artistes memorize those long classical Chinese dialogues within a few hours without making any mistakes and acting with the proper expressions. That was the reason why Sheren Tang, a very good veteran, had depression after filming “Beauty at War”. It was all due to the “flying paper” scripts that she got just a few hours before the actual filming. First she would have to memorize those dialogues and speak them fluently without any mistakes, then act with the proper facial expressions and inner emotions. It was not an easy job at all.

      I also complained about Gigi Lai and Charmaine Sheh the way they spoke their dialogues (like memorizing them), but now I would excuse them if they got those scripts last minute.

  4. sometime i reckon is not tvb fault for not having a good script or storyline. The people just complain complain …….is it because they are too dumb , have lots of free time to complain or have lots of high expectations from a Hong kong production.

    1. Also I think people draw their own conclusions too quickly after watching one or two episodes, which is unfair to a drama series and its artistes.

      1. Well, people do not owe it to the drama or the artistes to keep watching if they feel bored from the first episode.

      2. Then don’t complain about the drama series just after the first episode. If yo don’t like it or don’t understand it, don’t watch it. There are other people who would enjoy it.

        I never made people watch any drama series. I just said we should give ourselves a chance to watch a few more episodes before making a big conclusion.

      3. People who complain are emotionally invested. They will most likely continue to watch to either be proved right or to have more to complain about.

        People who don’t complain, are people who already gave up on the show. Now you tell if it’s better for the show that people continue watching – and hating if they find more faults – or people who simply gave up and were quiet about it.

        People have a right to complain if that’s what they want. EVEN after one episode. If you don’t care to see the criticism then simply don’t read.

      4. What are you yapping about? People are giving their thoughts on the first two episodes. Not the whole series. Anyway, the 3rd ep although still a little confusing started to have a bit more bite.

      5. Honestly, can’t really blame people for complaining about the first episode because that’s actually what audiences are ‘supposed’ to do in a sense. Back when I took scriptwriting classes, one of the biggest things that was constantly hammered into our brains was how important the “intro” (opening segment) to a script is because that’s what draws the audience in and helps determine whether they will continue watching — if the intro is bad, you could lose audiences really quickly and even if the middle and ending segments are good, that may not be able to save things. This is why I’m not surprised that there is so much ‘talk’ about the first episode…

        Personally, I feel that if majority of audiences found the ‘critical’ opening segment (first episode) confusing and boring, then that means the series ‘failed’ in terms of drawing in audiences (in other words, the series didn’t pass its first test)…now let’s see how the rest of the series goes and whether it will be able to pass subsequent ‘tests’…

    2. You have to realize that these types of articles are reporters taking a few messages from tvb.com or some forum like this, then make it sound like its a representative of the whole hk. These articles always make it sound like most of the Hk audience thinks like that, but it’s not always true. Like those reports that have xx complaints for a series, it’s actually a very small amount compared to 2-3 million audiences. But these reports make it such a big deal like everyone in Hk is complaining.

      Just make ur own judgement and don’t take these articles too seriously because they are always exaggerated.

  5. My personal thoughts about this drama is pretty awesome so far. I like the characters especially Cheung Kuk Sang (Du Yange 杜燕歌)

  6. LOL! Though not understanding d opera singing I enjoyed their performances, simply awesome! Bet BAW gonna b an attractive serie yet!!!!

  7. I did not like Ep. # 1, but thoroughly enjoyed watching Ep. # 2. The characters were well written and acted by those veterans. Everyone did very well in Ep. # 2, and the storyline was brought out slowly through the characters. People just jumped into conclusion quickly after watching Ep. # 1. I think we should give the drama series more time and patience before we made any conclusions.

    I enjoyed Ep. # 2 very much, acting was very detailed, even the kunqu hua acting by Moses Chan, Alice Chan and Eddie Kwan. It is okay if you don’t understand it as most people don’t, but you will enjoy the scenes just by looking at their faces and expressions. So far so good in Ep. # 2.

    I guess it is very hard to start a sequel as the first one was aired 9 years ago.

    1. From the synopsis, is this a prequel to the original story? Kind of confuse with the timeline.

    2. I like the episode 1 beginning , rich in history and cultural.
      The Crow flying and shit onto the official waiting for Puyi.

      Cheung Kuk Sang telling story to a chamber-full of men on how Consort Yu forced a palace maid to marry a eunuch is fun to watch., the way the people sit , their facial expression , so engrossed to the story telling. Imagine those days is one of the entertaiment they have.
      I’m so lucky now have iPad watch movie instead sitting listen to story telling

      Puyi appear must have the reason on the story link 100 years later.

      Sheren Tang stil gorgeous as ever

  8. Dramas with old settings like these are meant for older viewers like my aunt since they need to know classical Chinese along with interest in opera.

    Young people like me without a true 12 year Chinese education are often lost in these extremely long dialogues, and I don’t care to watch the same episode again with the subtitles to understand it all.

    As my aunt, the greatest critic I have ever known says: “it sucks, don’t waste your time. Also, fix my whatsapp, I think I broke it again”.

    1. dd
      You are quite right. If you are young and don’t know anything about Chinese history and classical Chinese, you wouldn’t be interested in watching classical ancient drama series. Perhaps you cannot even understand the dialogues which are written in old classical Chinese.

      Don’t worry, just watch those modern or wuxi drama series acted by those young idol fadans and siu sang.

    2. Actually, I never understand all their old Chinese dialogue because I was raised in a western country and didn’t have any Chinese education at all. However, I’ve always been interested in classical Chinese dramas – as long as it has a good storyline and is well-acted.

      It’s true that a lot of young people like my sister do not favour ancient shows, because they are hard to understand and hard to relate to. However, if you tell them it’s a really good show they can be persuaded. WOM works in both direction. When WAB came out people praised it and it helped the ratings. This time some people don’t like the sequel so of course they will say it isn’t as good. Can’t have your cake and eat it too.

      1. advo
        I know it is pretty hard to understand classical Chinese dialogues if you are brought up in western countries. I don’t blame you at all.

        I can understand classical Chinese, but I still have difficulty in following some of the classy dialogues (especially if they are not said with articulation). It is just not something for everybody, especially those ABC or CBC.

  9. Why did people jump into any conclusion just after watching Ep. # 1? It is a palace-setting drama series, and there are a whole bunch of characters involved. Just give the scriptwriter more time to bring out the storyline. As long as the storyline and acting are good, it will be a good drama series. It usually takes more time to bring out the storyline of an ancient drama series, especially with a palace-setting.

    1. Every drama’s first, second and last episodes need to be written very well. The first episode has to captivate and capture the audience’s attention, and the second one needs to be just as good in order to keep it for the rest of the season. The last episode needs to cap everything off and draw the largest amount of ratings. This is done so that when you look at the week-by-week ratings, you’ll know your drama was a hit when your finale outdraws the first episode (which should have the best/2nd best ratings since it’s the premiere)

      If you remember “Inbound Troubles”, the first episode really dug deep into the China-HK relations theme when they recreated many of the conflicts such as the A&G storefront photographing scandal, buying of grey-goods and the HK tour-guide who pretty much forced the mainland tourists into buying stuff. And then as the weeks went by we never really saw any of it again, so it went from a drama which was supposed to be a social commentary of HKers and mainlanders to one about family and love.

      Which to some people, they may have felt like victims to a bait-and-switch. But I don’t know, I enjoyed the drama in the end.

      1. So to cap: episode one needs to be extra special in order to keep the ratings. Scriptwriters are playing with fire if they start the drama off slow and plodding. If they don’t like episode one, they just might give episode two a chance to change their minds, then after that that’s pretty much it.

      2. dd
        I agree with you totally on the first 3 episodes which are super important in any drama series. However, it is pretty hard to write a sequel of a classic drama series (War & Beauty) especially it was aired 9 years ago, and most of characters were dead.

        I also agree that Ep. # 1 in “Beauty at War” was not good, but Ep. # 2 was a lot better ………….. very good illustrations of the lead characters which brought the storyline slowly and gradually.

        However, if you don’t understand any classical Chinese, it will be hard for you to understand the dialogues and the storyline.

      3. I also agree that Scriptwriter was not too smart to start the sequel of a classic drama series like what he did in Ep. # 1. I had expected a better beginning also.

      4. @sandcherry

        It’s definitely hard. You can’t rush the first episode for period dramas or you risk ruining the pacing of the rest of the series.

        My aunt’s a fan of Cantonese and Peking Opera and she thinks they half-arsed the performances which turned her off it.

      5. dd
        It is extremely hard to learn kunqu hua performance. It would take an actor 8 or 9 years to act the scenes performed by Moses Chan, Alice Chan and Eddie Kwan, and those artistes only had a few lessons as their training. Ask your aunt not to expect that much. Most of the opera singers have to learn when they are very young. It is easier to learn Cantonese opera than kunqu hua, and that will take artistes over 10 years to be a proper Cantonese opera singer/performer.

        The whole drama series is not really about kunqu hua performance, and it is only brought out by some kunqu hua performers’ lives during that period of time.

      6. Oh, she’ll keep watching this even if she said she wouldn’t. We don’t have hi-def here so we’re limited to TVB and ATV, and she’s not wily enough to use the fibre optic cable to watch stuff online.

      7. dd
        Good. There will be another viewer for “Beauty at War” then. Hope she will change her mind as the story moves on. I hope this sequel will not disappoint me though I know I cannot expect that it will overtake the classic “War & Beauty”.

      8. @ dd

        Exactly. The first (couple) episodes work as a hook for the audience. NO ONE owes anyone to continue watching anything.

        @ sandcherry
        If it’s hard to write a sequel to a 9 year old drama then don’t. It’s that simple. If TVB wanted to coast off the success of WAB – which they did – then they will have to deal with the higher expectations that come with it.

        If kunqu hua is hard then either don’t focus so much on it or stop being cheapskates and use real artistes as stunt doubles for the actors. TVB needs to learn that the world has moved on and there are higher expectations to TV entertainment than in their glory days.

      9. advo
        1) I guess you are asking too much from TVB now with their budget cuts.

        2 You will have to be familiar with Chinese history and its legends before you will develop an interest in palace-setting drama series (especially Ching Dynasty) with classical Chinese dialogues.

      10. @ sandcherry

        If TVB doesn’t have the budget then they shouldn’t try to make the show. It’s as simple as that. Why should I waste my time on their nonsensical, low-budget shows when I can watch Mainland, Taiwanese, American, British shows?

        I completely disagree that you need to have knowledge of the palace setting and legends before you will develop interest. Good shows are those that manage to entertain and inspire interest. There has been tons of palace dramas that inspired me to study up on its historical accuracy BECAUSE the show was that good.

      11. advo
        Good for you then …….. to develop an interest in Chinese history after watching a good show. I guess you may have to watch Mainland Chinese drama series then. They have bigger budgets and bigger audience for their drama series.

      12. @ sandcherry


        While your defense of the show is admirable, that doesn’t mean the criticism isn’t valid.

      13. As someone who has written scripts before, here’s my two cents: most of the stuff dd talked about is spot on…this has nothing to do with people having an ‘interest’ in Chinese history or period dramas or anything like that….writing a good intro (first episode) to attract audiences and writing a good ending are basic tenants of good scriptwriting…it’s as simple as that. People can have absolutely no knowledge or interest in the subject matter whatsoever, but can still be drawn in by a series / movie if the intro is engaging and well-written…and the way the subsequent episodes are written determines whether the audiences will continue to dedicate their time to watching the series/movie.

  10. low life people who don’t understand that ideal and love to complain complain non stop because they don’t try to understand and want to find out……

  11. Everybody have high expectations on this drama especially so when the first one is good. Of course there are supporters and naysayers but don’t judge someone based on your personal standard. To me, I’m still trying to figure out the characters in this drama and hopefully the story really develops into something interesting. But some old folks like my parents gave up after watching the 1 episode. My dad said he can’t understand what this drama is all about and it’s very confusing to him because of all the characters popping out at the same time (and most newbies whom he doesn’t even recognize). I might give it a chance for now but it really takes a lot to keep it going.

    1. NiquoleC
      Ask your parents to continue if they don’t hate the drama series. I did not like Ep. # 1 either, and I agree that it was Scriptwriter Chow Yuk Ming’s stupid beginning for the sequel of a classic drama series “War & Beauty”. I was disappointed as well. However, after watching Ep. # 2, I picked up the storyline more through the good acting of the lead characters, and I enjoyed it thoroughly. Just give yourself a bit more time before you make any conclusion. The artistes were very good in their acting in Ep. # 2.

  12. I notice the backing soundtrack or whatever you call it is really similar to Master Of Play and When Heaven Burns. When i hear the music in the background, all i think of is that they were too cheap to arrange new background music and had to recycle. And it really doesn’t fit the series-this is an ancient series, not a modern series.

  13. Am I the only one who enjoyed the first episode? I watched it twice though. I like how they did not explain every single detail explicitly. You have to really concentrate on the series and remember the names and characters.

    1. joey
      I was able to understand the first episode, but did not enjoy it as much as I did in the second episode. There were too many details in the first ep. but none of them was explained clearly. Unless you paid very good attention (like what you did by watching it twice), it is a bit hard to digest it, especially if you don’t understand classical Chinese dialogues.

      You must understand classical Chinese dialogues in order to appreciate it. Smart girl!

      1. Actually the second time I watched with english subtitles. 😉

      2. joey
        Good try anyway. You are a lot better than those people who complained about this drama series as “very confusing” after watching Ep. # 1. They did not bother to understand it or to give it more time to see its developments.

      3. @sandcherry

        I didn’t know that TV had become homework. Why do people need to make an extra effort or give it more time to understand an episode?

        Lots of ancient dramas are made all the time with confusing long dialogue and large casts, yet they manage to garner high ratings anyway. Are we to think that they can manage to overcome audience bias but BAW cannot without special treatment?

        Some people will complain but they continue watching either to be proved wrong or to have more to complain about. You should be more worried about the people who didn’t even bother to complain because that means they cared even less and has already given up on the show.

      4. It is okay for you to complain, and I just felt it was not fair to voice “very confusing” after watching Ep. # 1.

        No point to argue. You and I have different opinions about this sequel and have different culture too.

      5. If episode 1 was confusing then why isn’t it fair to say so? Just because it was confusing that doesn’t mean people will stop watching. I find lots of shows with big casts – especially if it’s unfamiliar actors – confusing. But if the actual premise of the show is interesting then I would continue watching.

        Perhaps BAW is both confusing and boring? Perhaps people are just jumping the gun. However, at least the show is getting publicity which is the purpose of this article.

  14. I really have no idea how come everybody keeps saying this series is confusing and hard to understand. I’m in the opinion that if one has watched the first installment, they will definitely love this one. It is far more well-done. Even I, who do not know Cantonese, can truly enjoy the first two episodes via English subtitles.
    Hope this series won’t be underrated.

    1. 1) Maybe some people didn’t watch the first installment? It aired 9 years ago…

      2) Maybe some people are not watching with English subtitles but in Canto and their Canto isn’t as strong as your English?

      1. If a viewer’s command of ancient Chinese is limited, then he or she should resort to English subtitles to comprehend the series. The English subs simplify difficult dialogs, yet manages to keep the core meaning.
        It’s an irony that one insists on the series being tough to understand without knowing that their incompetence may stem from their limited knowledge of the language itself.

      2. @ bryanchang

        Ancient Chinese dramas has always hard to understand yet those dramas have been produced for years with people able to understand them just fine without English subs.

        Who says the show is hard to understand based on their language inferiority? What grounds do you have for tha hypothesis? I’ve seen people claim it’s confusing due to too many characters, not because of their limited Cantonese.

  15. I have only watched the first episode and I’m loving it. But I’m a shallow viewer.

    I love the genre of period court dramas and I love Ada and her raspy voice. Of course, having English subtitles helped me understand the episode very well. There’s no way I will watch this drama without the English subtitles.

    1. Where can you watch with Eng subs? My Canto isn’t bad-bad but it seems like my understanding will be greatly improved with Eng subs. A shame since I understood WAB just fine without.

      1. You can download the HD-MKV versions here: asianuniverse.net/forums/TVB_A_Beauty_At_War__t360127.html

        Only these MKV files have combined soft subs (Chinese-simplifed and traditional, and English).

  16. OMG…both bullet brain ad beauty at war are soo boring. What am I going to do every weeknight for the next few weeks??

    1. Watch come home love. It’s not bad at all, I think its better than some first line series aired in tvb. It’s over 200 episodes now.

      1. Super agree with you Tess!
        Watching up till episode 240 now!!
        Can’t wait to see Ha Jie hooked up with Richard
        And HAHAHAS how will Leong Fan mum reactions when she found out the real gf of his son!!

  17. BAW is pretty good. It is a series where you have to spend time thinking about it and paying attention to visual or audio details. Its not for those who are multitasking at the same time as watching TV.

    I personally quite like BAW. The first 2 eps are way better than the 10 eps I have seen of BB.

  18. I liked the first episode but have to admit that English subs would help and I immediately signed onto Jaynestars and afspot to find episode detail summary . Knowing the producers of the show the strange opening detail should be explained by the end.

    Tracy is no match for Ada in acting but it is clear that Ada’s character intelligence is high above her and probably only matched by a few like Sheren.

    Enjoyed quiet subtleties of ep 2. Couldn’t help but think of Leslie Cheung from Farewell My Concubine which is probably gold standard of opera diva fa dan.

    Props to the show for not dumbing down dialogue or having entire plots verbally explained by scheming side characters then “discovered” by good guy. But the remains to be seen.

  19. So far pacing is reminding me more of Dance of Passion than WAB. From what I do remember of the first show, I didn’t really get into it until a third of the show then had to rewatch some of the beginning. I want ti say be patient.

  20. Does anyone know the name of the stories they perform onstage? I saw Moses was holding a willow, so is the play ‘The Peony Pavilion’? Actually I love all the Kunqu performances.

  21. all series this year has been disappointig except inbound troubles. can’t wait for the most anticipateds triumph in the skies 2, on call2, brother keeper and rosy3 no reverse!

    1. I’m on the fence about TITS2, found the plot for the first to be a bit of a train wreck.

  22. BAW is not a bit confusing mann! It has a dramatic progression n d qualities of great writing!

    1. Agree. It is just a kind of approach in scriptwriting ………… starting with a big picture and narrowing it down to smaller ones.

      1. Yep! I suppose viewers aren’t ready to accept a different approach to BAW n as d producer mentioned BAW has a “lighter flavor”.
        D only thorn for BAW is CK, should hv given her a mute role, mann!

  23. May be I am lucky because I did not watch this series. I love ST’s acting but feel boring with fighting of women in Forbidden city; too many series -produced recently- about this theme.

  24. I watched the first episode and was really confused. Given I have no knowledge in Chinese history, I assumed the first character they introduced was Puyi (saw his picture before) and then the time skip- which was fine but then it started flooding with too many characters and their own storylines/ background.

    EP 2- I don’t understand Chinese opera; even with the Chinese subtitles at the bottom so it didn’t help… I also assumed that the opera they chose to perform is related to Ko Lau Fei’s love story? I know this drama is supposed to appeal to the older generations, but it would help if 60% of EP 2 wasn’t spent on the Chinese opera (not that I have anything against Chinese opera).

    EP 3- I thought I gave it another try but I am starting to lose interest… still trying to digest all these characters and their motives/ storyline. It’s like playing CLUE for me- which is not a lot of fun when this is not a mystery drama and there is no murder…. -_-

    I think it’s nice/ brave? that they are trying a new approach- broad opening and then narrowing in- but it seems to lack a flow for me. I have seen dramas and read novels where it uses this approach but it fails to flow for me.

    Acting wise, I think Ada Choi/Sheren Tang/ Moses/ Christine Ng/ Eddie Kwan delivered. Alice Chan portrayed her emotions well during her stage scene with Moses (the stares) although I found it lacking when she sat down in her home to talk to Eddie (I haven’t seen her act before).

    Christine Kuo and Tracy Ip cannot act… Tracy sounded like she was reading a textbook with a monotone voice. Katy Kung acted like a spoiled little kid/ princess attitude (like in previous roles I have seen her in), for me- it just looked like a costume change.

    Might give EP 4 a try although I doubt it… some things are not meant for sequels. This is another one to add onto my list…

    1. Can someone please explain what happened in episode 2? I am so confused._.

      1. Bubblez
        If you had difficulty in understanding the old classical Chinese dialogues, perhaps you should read the English subtitles. I had to read the Chinese subtitles occasionally if the artistes spoke fast and not that clearly. It is pretty hard to understand those classy dialogues unless you have a strong background in classical Chinese.

        Can you read Chinese? If you can, visit TVB’s website on “Beauty at War” and read the synopsis of each episode before you watch the drama series. That is exactly what I do, which will help me understand the episode more easily. I don’t know how to the find the synopsis in English though.

      2. the entire series can be retitled to “Rumour has it” because it always starts with a rumour about person A but turns out to be quite the opposite truth. Ep 1 tells of the rumour of Consort Yu being a bad master but in actual fact she is a good master, rumour was fueled by servants who have ulterior motives.

        Ep 2 is a rumour about Moses being a love cheat when in actual fact I think it is a woman’s singular one sided love for a guy who doesn’t love her the way she wants. I think because the story should take ep 3 to explain all.

        What i find interesting is Eddie’s wife saying he was sexually harassed before. The whole idea of a male (dressed as female actress) entertaining guests where it could or maybe not include sexual flavours is far more interesting than those supposed rumours.

        And the story is simple, just made complicated by TVB with their roundabout way. Yes the Chinese is sorta deep but unnecessary deep. They could have opted for simple but old time dialogue rather than going shakespeare on us.

      3. And the approach is nothing new.

        I am watching Safe Guards again. A much better series. Love how they reasoned why must protect Elaine’s character; “No reason, just a matter of conscience”.

        Brilliant dialogue. Simple and yet effective.

      4. Thanks Sandcherry and Funn! I will check those out. 🙂

  25. Wow, it sounds like one would need a PhD in Chinese Civilization/Literature in order to be able to enjoy this drama.

    But wait, that alone would not help unless one is so conversant with Canto that one can translate all those arcane jargons….

    Way above my head…

    1. No, you don’t need a Ph.D. to enjoy “Beauty at War”. You can read the English subtitles or even the Chinese subtitles. It may be hard if you have never had any exposures to old classical Chinese language.

  26. I agree with all of the points mentioned in the article..
    Because Beauty at War is based on a ancient era, the terms they use in their dialogue is different and not many of us will exactly understand what is happening.

    Hopefully, as we get used to the characters and difficult terms, the plot will be more interesting. I will be watching it even if it’ boring/confusing.

    1. It is a different style of writing ancient drama series. Though it is a bit difficult to understand the dialogues, it brings out the actual culture of Ching Dynasty. The same style and approach (language skills) were used in the writing of “War & Beauty”, but older generations were able to accept it more and thought it was very “classy”.

      Perhaps people nowadays expect more from TVB drama series after viewing all the big productions of Mainland China. Mainland China can easily afford to film big-budget productions as they have a much bigger market and tons of young trained artistes (from performing arts colleges) and scriptwriters.

      1. I’ve not watched BAW yet so have nothing to say about it. But about the more authentic Qing dynasty dialogues in tv series, personally if the series is a palace drama, I actually prefer listening in Mandarin than in Cantonese. To me the spoken Cantonese lines and the way they were delivered often seem too modern for the period – a feel of anachronism to me. But that’s just me.

      2. Unfortunately not all of us understand Mandarin, and it is no fun to depend on Chinese subtitles entirely when I watch a drama series.

  27. see why the quality of dramas at tvb are declining? because tvb wants to put their favourites in any role for promotional purposes without thinking if the role suits them or not. why put a person who can’t speak proper chinese, a person with no knowledge of ancient china (aka Christine Kuo) into dramas set in ancient China??? a modern series fine you can say she was brought up overseas and came back to hk, but in ancient china? since when do maids go to Canada or America for education then go back to China to become a maid? soooo unrealistic. tvb aint even serious about their productions anymore.

  28. I didnt even make it past 10 mins of the first episode, so much talking, so many pple, i got lost.

  29. I am so agreed with 陳煒’s eyes moment you were mention about, that scene almost made me cry.

  30. I was confused too cz I don’t remember a single thing fr the prequel. But I just watch anyways and wait for the drama to unveil all the fights and sneaky plans!!

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