Dramas · Reviews

[Drama Review] The Princess Wei Young 锦绣未央 (2016)

Based On The Novel:

The Poisonous Daughter (庶女有毒)
By Qin Jian

Directed By: He Shupei & Cheng Zhichao

No. of Episodes: 54

Original Release: November 11 – December 9, 2016

Watch:
The Princess Weiyoung Official YouTube
The Princess Weiyoung on DramaFever

Synopsis:

Tiffany Tang (Perfect Couple), internationally-acclaimed actor Luo Jin, and Vanness Wu (Autumn’s Concerto) star in a period romance that proves revenge is best served when the enemy least expects it. Li Wei Young (Tiffany Tang) was born Princess Feng Xin Er, the daughter of the King of Former Liang. A loyal subject under Great Wei, however, Xin Er’s father is framed for treason and killed by the evil General Chiyun and Li Min Feng. Xin Er’s family and kingdom is annihilated. Escaping with her life but now an orphan, Xin Er accidentally wanders into enemy territory. There, she is saved by Li Wei Young, the daughter of the prime minister of Great Wei. Although born a noble lady, she is driven to live in the countryside by her family because she was born on a day deemed one of misfortune. Little did Xin Er know that her savior Li Wei Young is also Li Min Feng’s half-sister. Full of hatred for the enemy that destroyed her home, Xin Er assumes Li Wei Young’s identity after she was murdered. She ultimately learns to channel her hatred towards those who deserve it and become a kinder person overall. And it is exactly her wisdom and humanity that attracts towards her two very different men. Tuoba Jun (Luo Jin) is the beloved, well-educated, kind prince that is favored by all, including the king, and who falls in love with Wei Young. And competing with him is his third uncle Tuoba Yu (Vanness Wu), the cold, menacing and emotionally scarred prince that truly wants to rule the empire, and sees the intelligent Wei Young as his tool and his nephew as his rival. Wei Young, however, only has her eyes on one thing: she was not able to save her people. Between the schemes of these two men and living in enemy territory, can Wei Young ever avenge her family?

(source: Dramafever)

Disclaimer: This review contains spoilers! Please do not proceed if you do not want to read spoilers.

Review:

Plot & Pacing
My Rating: ✩✩✩

I did not read the novel so I will not be comparing the two, but I heard a number of things were changed in the drama, such as the character of Li Wei Young itself. Book fans are saying that she was much more calculative and cruel to her enemies, which is very different than the water downed version of the character we have here. So, if I have time in the future I’ll probably check out the book and see if it’s a more satisfying experience.

For now, back to the drama! At 54 episodes, it felt like it’d be a daunting task. But, I did manage to finish all of Fan Bing Bing’s Empress of China, which was a whopping 82 hours. Therefore, I decided to give Princess Wei Young a try, if worse came to worse, I’d just drop it (which was what I was expecting to happen).

However, I ended up liking the first two episodes and the episodes after that as well. The story itself wasn’t really different from usual palace dramas (a bunch of scheming women), but somehow it had me hooked and I just kept watching one episode after the other. There were very few boring moments. I didn’t fast forward at all as there always seemed to be something happening in every hour.

But, I must mention that I watched this drama at the end of November and during that time I was busy crocheting for the holidays. So, that might have affected my judgment and why I thought the drama pacing was good. I was multitasking and didn’t give the drama my full attention until the latter half of the show, and when I really started watching every minute of it, the experience definitely wasn’t as good as the first 30 episodes.

Especially the final arc where Tuoba Yu threatened Wei Young to lie about the emperors’ last words and to marry him in order to save Tuoba Jun’s life. I thought it was extremely boring and repetitive. It reminded me of the last few episodes of Perfect Couple which I ended up skipping entirely, and coincidentally Tang Yan was also the female lead of that drama.

All in all, the viewing experience of Princess Wei Young was good. It was interesting for the most part. But, unfortunately everything was pretty predictable story wise and there was little character development. I think there are definitely better palace dramas out there with stronger female leads, such as Sun Li’s The Legend of Zhen Huan , Ruby Lin’s Schemes of a Beauty, and the aforementioned Empress of China starring Fan Bing Bing.

Performances

Tiffany Tang Yan as Li Wei Young / Feng Xin’er
My Rating: ✩✩✩✩

Compared to previous roles, this one is a little different for Tang Yan and one of the reasons why I decided to watch this drama. Li Wei Young was intelligent and thankfully unforgiving, as she did exact revenge on those who wronged her. However, I didn’t like how Wei Young was always on the defense. Rarely did Wei Young ever take the initiative to get rid of her enemies. And more often than not, she would fall for their tricks and end up needing Tuoba Jun to save her, like every other damsel in distress in drama land (which was very disappointing). As for Tang Yan’s acting, I think she is very good in her crying scenes and is comfortable playing this type of character. What seemed to challenge her the most though was when the character was supposed to appear cold and intimidating, such as at the end of the drama where she was empress. Even with the crazy eye makeup though, it wasn’t very convincing.

Luo Jin as Tuoba Jun (Prince Gaoyang)
Rating: ✩✩✩

I’ll be honest, I never liked any of the characters Luo Jin has played and I don’t find him that attractive either. Tuoba Jun was also another one of those characters that I thought was as bland as a dry saltine cracker. The only purpose he had in the drama was to be Wei Young’s knight in shining armor and love interest. He didn’t have much of a personality either. I liked when he was flirty with Wei Young, but that was pretty much it. However, to be fair this is often what happens to male characters in female focused palace intrigue dramas. So, the fault really isn’t in Luo Jin. Hopefully his next drama role will be better, because I do think he has the acting chops to play a more complex male lead!

Vanness Wu as Tuoba Yu (Prince Nanan)
Rating: ✩✩✩½

I thought Tuoba Yu was a much more interesting character because he always had an agenda. Is he a good lover? No, most definitely not and I wouldn’t want Wei Young to be with him. But, it was fun watching Tuoba Yu and I actually thought Vanness Wu (and his voice actor) did well. However, I am probably biased since I’ve had a soft spot for him ever since 2009’s Autumn Concerto and I do think villains in general are easier to play than the good guys (e.g. Luo Jin’s Tuoba Jun).

Mao Xiao Tong as Li Chang Ru
Rating: ✩✩✩✩

I began to like Mao Xiao Tong after Love O2O, and was even more impressed by her portrayal of the manipulative Li Chang Ru who disguised herself as the kind and weak girl in the Li household. Her acting was very natural and she was very subtle with her facial expressions whenever she had to show the viewer that she was scheming something. I actually wish Wei Young was written like this. As I felt Li Chang Ru was a much more compelling character.

Li Xi Nai as Li Chang Le
Rating: ✩✩

Li Xi Nai’s Li Chang Le is the less intelligent villain in the drama. She’s a spoiled rich girl who is used to getting her ways. Thus, she isn’t as calculative as Mao Xiao Tong’s character and should be easier to portray. Yet, Li Xi Nai was way over the top with her wide eyed expressions and evil smirks. She’s definitely the weakest link here.

Chemistry

Tang Yan & Luo Jin
Rating: ✩✩✩✩✩

Tang Yan is one of those actresses that tend to have good chemistry with all of her co-stars and it’s no different here.  Her scenes with Luo Jin were very sweet and enjoyable to watch, especially after knowing that the two of them are dating in real life. I don’t know if it’s just me, but it felt like I was peeking in on their private moments at times and even more so in their adorable bts videos (lol).

Tang Yan & Vanness Wu
Rating: ✩✩✩

The relationship between these two is completely one-sided, with Vanness Wu’s Tuoba Yu pining after Tang Yan’s Li Wei Young. But, I’m a sucker for bad boys and second leads (unfortunately)! Moreover, I believe that he genuinely loved Wei Young as he risked his life to save her when Li Chang Ru attempted to kill her. So, my heart ached for the lonely Tuoba Yu and kind of wished that Wei Young had a little bit of affection towards him. But, nope, our leading lady only has room in her heart for one man (i.e. lucky Luo Jin… uh, I mean Tuoba Jun)!

Mao Xiao Tong & Vanness Wu
Rating: ✩✩✩½

Another unrequited love… *sigh* I actually liked this pairing a lot but can’t really give them a higher rating considering most of the time they were using each other in some way or another for their own selfish gains. And this twisted couple didn’t end up together either… I know I know, after all the terrible things they did, they definitely do not deserve a happy ending! But still I can’t help but feel a little sad for them. Li Chang Ru and Tuoba Yu were very alike in both personality and their personal experiences, which was why they seemed to understand the other so well. Like Chang Ru said, they were the perfect match and would have probably made a powerful pair if Tuoba Yu had loved her in return. Maybe they’ll have a chance together in their afterlife?

Favorite Scenes

Receiving Due Credit

Wei Young proves to the emperor that she is the true writer of the policy plan and that Le Chang Le had stolen her work. The emperor has Chang Le punished and rewards Wei Young with precious gifts.

Sweet Payback

Wei Young sets Li Chang Le up to poison her own father. Chang Le gets banished to the countryside as a result.

Oh Poop!

In the countryside, Li Chang Le is bullied and put to work. I can’t emphasize enough how great it was to see her suffering and washing buckets filled with manure! *evil laugh*

Reaping What You Sow

Li Chang Ru attempted to drug Wei Young and Tuoba Yu with an aphrodisiac. She is exposed by Wei Young. And the emperor gives Chang Ru a death sentence; she is to be executed after the birth of her child. At this point of the drama, even I was sick of her and just wanted to see her die already.

Rewarded With Wine

Tuoba Jun orders Li Chang Le to drink poison wine to kill herself. Nothing to say except… bottoms up!

Happy Wedding

After 54 episodes of difficulties for this couple, they finally got to be together officially as emperor and empress. I was really happy for them, after all they went through they definitely deserve happiness! And even though their time together was ultimately cut short, with Tuoba Jun leaving this world before Wei Young, I still considered it a somewhat happy ending, perhaps best described as bittersweet. But, they cherished every moment they had together and I think that was the most important thing. They didn’t have any regrets.

Final Thoughts

Is this drama worth watching?

My opinions are a bit mixed, while I have many complaints towards the drama and wish the script was written differently, I did finish the entire thing! And that means something, because I rarely watch a drama from beginning to end. The list of dramas that I have dropped is seriously five times the number of dramas I have completed. But, with that said, I would only recommend Princess Wei Young to anyone who likes palace dramas and can stand watching the female lead being framed again and again by her enemies. The entire 54 hour experience basically feels like you’re torturing yourself while being entertained at the same time (lol, not the best way to describe it, but you get my point)

Overall Rating: ✩✩✩½

Please feel free to comment and tell me what you think about Princess Wei Young! I’m sure many of your opinions will be different from mine, but that’s okay! Let the discussions begin!

  • alltalk

    YouTube recommended this drama to me actually haha and only after I have done watching it did I know it’s quite famous among drama fans?
    I love strong and calculative female lead who does not completely rely on the male lead. It would be even better if both of them are the cool people who have the upper hand over the palace politics xD but it was not the case here, unfortunately.

    I think it’s quite okay in the beginning especially when she exposed Chang Le’s lies and suggest few solutions to the Emperor. Even the BGM suits that scene so I was quite impressed.

    It gets repetitive in the middle and a bit boring… It was sad how they killed Touba Jun when the sweetness only last for like seconds ;;
    I’m giving this drama 2.5 star solely for the leads performance but not for the plot.