The costumes and hair pieces fit their characters so much that this could be a Disney princess movie.
Period drama Legend of the Phoenix 凤弈 , starring He Hongshan, Cao Xiwen, Xu Zhengxi, , Liu Min, and Cui Peng, has released its character posters. I know they’re super modern, but I actually kind of like the costumes and headpieces in the posters. The headpieces, the Medici collars, and the fabrics are all pretty whimsical and seem to be designed to define their characters. Since it’s set in a fictional time and place, they can get away with the European-Chinese hybrid outfits. Not sure how I feel about the resurgence of the popularity of wearing buildings on your head (based on real artifacts), but it seems to work here.
Set in the fictional Eastern Liang dynasty, circus performer Ye Ningzhi’s (He Hongshan) troupe enters the palace and stages a performance to celebrate the empress dowager’s birthday. The ambitious emperor’s sister, the Grand Princess (Liu Min), decides to cause mischief by framing her for treason, though the heroine is saved by strategist Wei Guang (Xu Zhengxi), and falls in love at first sight with him.
When Ye Ningzhi enters the palace two years later as the empress’ maid, she stands up for her fellow servants, and refuses to sacrifice her conscience in the face of power. Ye Ningzhi also works together with Wei Guang to crush the grand princess’ plan to usurp the throne, and catches the admiration of the Empress (Cao Xiwen) and the eye of the emperor (Cui Peng) in the process.
Those who actually want to see buildings on top of the head can watch Beach Blanket Babylon in San Francisco.
Wouldn’t women be averse to Medici collars given how Catherine de Medici’s husband abandoned her – despite her immense family power – for another woman? Good thing they didn’t go for the medieval makeup. In paintings of the period, subjects in paintings are mostly only attractive in Botticelli’s works.
I suspect this drama will not appeal to me. Actors are ok on average, but often not consistently good. Liu Min’s acting can be cringeworthy in Yu Ma production sometimes. Xu Zhengxi’s acting can look unnatural too.
Mary Sue maid in palace attracting attention? Wouldn’t that be too similar to Yu Ma’s Gong genre again?
The female lead wasn’t great in the drama with Yuan Shanshan, neither. Cao Xiwen is excellent, though. She’s carried several dramas as the lead, and I can see her holding the series together if her role has sufficient weight.
Fm lead was ok in Reunion Meal with Li Guangjie, Ma Su, but LG and MS did better in acting and HHS wasn’t required to do much. HHS was probably a bit stiff. Li Landi is better in that kind of role. I didn’t manage to watch 1 ep of HHS’ school drama.
I haven’t watched any Cao Xw dramas. Do you have a favorite?
Yuan Shanshan didn’t seem annoying in reality show where she acted as a mentor to acting students. But many of her drama characters come across quite annoying. It doesn’t make me seek out her dramas and films. Already developed an allergy for her just from the drama roles she picked.
I actually like the Grand Princess’s headdress because usually the phoenix represents the Queen or the Empress, but here it’s reserved for the former. So I guess it’s symbolic of how she wants to rise as the ruler, even she’s a female. In contrast, the Empress wears the Palace on her head which probably signifies her responsibility of the affairs of the (Inner) Palace and the weight of her title.
Good catch! I didn’t think about the Phoenix representing her ambition, but that makes sense.
I pass on any Chinese period dramas with medieval European costumes and hair styling.
I don’t mind as long as everything still looks 70-80% Chinese. At least Chinese stories incorporate foreign influences more tastefully than vice versa. When Western stories use East Asian influences, I can only shudder.