Top 9 Classic Chinese Palace Dramas That Worth Watching

Chinese Palace drama (宫斗剧, Gongdou, harem drama, or palace scheming dramas) refers to a drama set in ancient China's feudal dynasties. Female characters, such as concubines or female officials, are the main subjects of the story.

The main plotline is the emotional entanglement of the characters or political power struggle. Palace dramas focus on entertainment and dramatization, and are somewhat different from historical dramas.

Ruyi's Royal Love in the Palace

The first hit palace drama was "War and Beauty" in 2004, then "Schemes of a Beauty" in 2010, and "Empresses in the Palace" in 2011 generated outstanding ratings and brought widespread attention to palace dramas.

Almost all of the stories in the palace dramas occur in the isolated harem, where the "scheming" is the core plot and narrative focus. A group of originally delicate aristocratic women, fighting on this battlefield of deceit, with only one goal in mind: the emperor's favor.

Empresses in the Palace

All the characters in the harem drama have no distinction between right and wrong, good and evil, but only the success or failure of their tactics and schemes, and the consequent differences in their fates.

Therefore, the women in the situation have a strong sense of crisis and high sensitivity to their difficult situation. All kinds of sinister tricks, not only their strategy to deal with the struggle, but also a means to protect themselves.

The following are the 9 classic Chinese palace dramas compiled by Newhanfu for you.

Top 9 Classic Chinese Palace Dramas That Worth Watching

Empresses in the Palace · 后宫·甄嬛传

  • Also known as: Zhen Huan Zhuan
  • Aired: November 17, 2011
  • Episodes/Duration: 76/45min
  • Period Background: Yongzheng period of the Qing Dynasty
  • Genres: Historical, Political, Harem
  • Main Role: Betty Sun as Niuhuru Zhen Huan, Chen Jian Bin as Yong Zheng Emperor, Ada Choi as Ulanara Yixiu

Empresses in the Palace

Plot Summary of Empresses in the Palace

This drama is based on the novel "Hou Gong Zhen Huan Zhuan" by Wu Xue Lan, which tells the story of the heroine Zhen Huan, who grows up from an uninitiated girl to a powerful Empress.

Empresses in the Palace

It was the first year of Yongzheng in the Qing Dynasty, Emperor Yinzhen ascended the throne, the country is peaceful, political clarity.

But under the surface of a peaceful, an undercurrent of stupidity. Especially in the harem, imperial noble consort Dunsu and the Empress Xiao Jing Xian struggling against each other, not only different forces wrapped up in it, but also a crisis.

Empresses in the Palace

Under the auspices of the Empress Dowager, a grand beauty selection kicked off. By this chance, the beautiful and kind girl - the eldest daughter of the Major Secretary of the Da Lisi, Zhen Yuan Dao, Zhen Huan, accidentally gets the appreciation of Yongzheng and enters the palace from then on.

Under the pressure of the empress Xiao Jing Xian and consort Dunsu, Zhen Huan carefully maneuvers around and endures humiliation, her life hangs in the balance. She had to use her wisdom to protect herself, but again and again she was caught in the cruel struggle of the palace.

Empresses in the Palace

Reviews of Empresses in the Palace

As the highest caliber of Qing Dynasty's palace dramas, Empresses in the Palace still maintains its popularity today. It satisfies the audience's curiosity about the court and women's scheming. It creates a brutal and stern sense of history, which, together with director Zheng Xiao Long's usual realistic style, makes for a unique and in-depth work.

Empresses in the Palace

 

Top 9 Classic Chinese Palace Dramas That Worth Watching

Palace of Desire · 大明宫词

  • Also known as: Da Ming Gong Ci
  • Aired: March 30, 2020
  • Episodes/Duration: 40/47min
  • Period Background: Wu Zetian period of the Tang Dynasty
  • Genres: Historical, Political
  • Main Role: Gui Ya Lei as Wu Ze Tian, Chen Hong as Princess Tai Ping, Zhou Xun as Young Princess Tai Ping, Winston Chao as Xue Shao

Palace of Desire

Plot Summary of Palace of Desire

Empress Wu Zetian of the Tang Dynasty was pregnant for 12 months but was unable to give birth, and when the news of the great victory of the Tang army came, the princess was finally born. This strange experience made Emperor Li Zhi believe that his daughter's birth would bring good luck to the country and gave her the name Princess Taiping.

Wu Zetian poured special care and favor on Princess Taiping from her birth. She experienced all the glory and beauty that the royal family could give to a woman.

Fourteen-year-old Taiping met Xue Shao, a handsome warrior, on her first trip out of the palace, causing her to fall in love. Out of love for her daughter, Wu Zetian gives death to Xue Shao's wife so that Taiping can marry Xue Shao, and sets the stage for her first marriage tragedy.

Palace of Desire

To confront her mother, Taiping married the kind and incompetent Wu Yousi, but it was an unhappy end, too. After two failed marriages, Taiping became disillusioned and turned her passion to the political affairs of the imperial court. Moved by her mother's magnanimity and compassion, she helped Wu Zetian overcome all the controversies and become the only female emperor in history.

As time goes by, the aging Wu Zetian also experiences the emptiness and disillusionment of life at the top of power. But Zhang Yizhi, beside her, is led to madness by desire and tries to take advantage of Wu Zetian's sense of loss to usurp power.

Palace of Desire

In this moment of crisis, Taiping once again shows her wisdom and boldness, crushing Zhang Yizhi's coup plot and persuading her mother to return the kingdom to the Li family's royal son, Xian. The decades-long misunderstanding and resentment between mother and daughter was finally resolved.

After Wu Zetian's death, Taiping became the Princess of Zhen Guo. Her nephew Li Longji took good care of her, and Ye'er grew up to be a tall and good young man, and was close friends with Li Longji. These two young men love Taiping in their own way: Li Longji loves her because he wants his aunt to get the power of the world, and Ye'er loves her because he wants Taiping to leave the power strife, and the conflict is imminent.

Palace of Desire

Reviews of Palace of Desire

The details of the portrayal, the background music, and even some small props, small ornaments of the decoration, can be seen in Palace of Desire's production of subtlety and dedication.

Especially the design of the actors' dialogues is refreshing. The long poetic lines, the passionate lines similar to stage performance, appeared in the cdrama for the first time. The fluency, musicality, and tension of the language are fully displayed.

At the same time, the costume design of the drama is also a great credit. The light texture of colored tulle in large quantities, so that the wind effects to the fullest.

 

Top 9 Classic Chinese Palace Dramas That Worth Watching

War and Beauty · 金枝欲孽

  • Also known as: Jin Zhi Yu Nie
  • Aired: August 23, 2004
  • Episodes/Duration: 30/45min
  • Period Background: Jiaqing Period of the Qing Dynasty
  • Genres: Historical, Political, Harem
  • Main Role: Gigi Lai as Yuk Ying, Charmaine Sheh as Yi Sun, Sheren Tang as Yu Yuet, Maggie Cheung Ho-yee as On Sin

War and Beauty

Plot Summary of War and Beauty

The story takes place in the Qing Dynasty, a new group of girls recommended from the local area to the capital to participate in the election, including Yuk Ying, Yi Sun and other daughters of prestigious families.

Unexpectedly, the official carriage transporting these girls was robbed by mountain bandits halfway, and the officials were all killed by the mountain bandits. At that time, Hung Mo and Chan Song, who were transporting the tributes to the capital, passed by and saved the girls. They then escaped from the bandits and finally escorted the girls to the capital.

War and Beauty

Yuk Ying and Yi Su are befriended when they are in a difficult situation, but they have their own secret plans. Yi Su and her two sisters regard Yuk Ying as their worst enemy in the harem and try to exclude her by all means, making her suffer a lot; Yuk Ying is outwardly at a disadvantage and pitiful, but inwardly she is perceptive and has her own tricks.

They all try to win the emperor's affection, while Yi Su tries her best to hide her secret in the midst of the strife. But the appearance of Suen Pak-Yeung, an imperial physician, makes Yuk Ying's and Yi Su's plans come to failure, and the struggle in the harem becomes even more dangerous.

War and Beauty

Reviews of War and Beauty

War and Beauty is a classic that started the trend of palace dramas and is known as the progenitor of palace dramas.

The director has carefully structured the drama, carefully woven the storyline so that it is intertwined, and paid special attention to the delicate portrayal of the emotional and psychological changes of the characters, so that the process of the characters' transformation from good to bad is gradually presented, and the character development is logically rigorous.

The audience will be gradually captured by the character's charm in the process of watching the drama. The plot of the whole drama is compact, avoiding the dullness and dragging of many harem dramas.

 

Top 9 Classic Chinese Palace Dramas That Worth Watching

Scarlet Heart · 步步惊心

  • Also known as: Bu Bu Jing Xin
  • Aired: September 10, 2011
  • Episodes/Duration: 35/49min
  • Period Background: Kangxi period of the Qing Dynasty
  • Genres: Historical, Political, Harem, Romance
  • Main Role: Liu Shi Shi as Maertai Ruoxi(Zhang Xiao), Nicky Wu as Aisin Gioro Yinzhen, Kevin Cheng as Aisin Gioro Yinsi
  • Related Dramas: Step by Step Surprise

Scarlet Heart

Plot Summary of Scarlet Heart

Zhang Xiao, a modern white-collar worker, time travels to the Kangxi period of the Qing Dynasty due to a car accident, and her identity becomes a Manchu noble girl - Maertai Ruoxi.

It was the forty-third year of Kangxi, when the country was settled and peaceful. However, there are dark tides and killing opportunities under the surface of prosperity.

Scarlet Heart

Emperor Kangxi, who has been strategizing all his life, is now faced with choosing the next emperor's most important and dangerous decision. The fourth prince is calm and introspective, the fourteenth prince is emotional and ambitious, and the eighth prince is gentle and warm.

Ruoxi is also involved in the struggle for the throne, witnessing the historical moment.

Scarlet Heart

Reviews of Scarlet Heart

Although Scarlet Heart shows the court struggle of Kangxi's nine princes struggling for the throne, it uses the time travel as a lead-in to re-act the famous story from history and adds more modern elements.

In addition to its superb popularity, Scarlet Heart is very rigorous in both plot and production. The costumes and manners in the drama are in line with the history of the Qing Dynasty.

Scarlet Heart

 

Top 9 Classic Chinese Palace Dramas That Worth Watching

Schemes of a Beauty · 美人心计

  • Also known as: Mei Ren Xin Ji, Beauty's Rival in Palace
  • Aired: March 15, 2010
  • Episodes/Duration: 40/40min
  • Period Background: Western Han Dynasty
  • Genres: Historical, Political, Harem, Romance
  • Main Role: Ruby Lin as Du Yun Xi/Dou Yi Fang/Empress Dou, Sammul Chan as Liu Heng/Emperor Wen, Wang Li Kun as Nie Shen Er/Wang Zhi/Concubine Qi

Schemes of a Beauty

Plot Summary of Schemes of a Beauty

The drama is adapted from the novel "Weiyang - Chenfu". In the Western Han Dynasty, the country has been settled, but there are crises in the depths of the palace. A fight for the throne accidentally changes the fate of a girl and even the entire Western Han Dynasty.

When Du Yun Xi was a child, because her mother was involved in the harem struggle, her family suffered a full-scale execution, But Du Yun Xi escaped from the palace with her nurse.

Schemes of a Beauty

Fate is indeed ingenious, after growing up, Du Yun Xi entered the palace again, but she has changed her name to Dou Yi Fang to disguise herself. She is cautious in front of the vicious and suspicious Empress Lu; fortunately, her resourcefulness and wisdom make Empress Lu happy. She is sent to Dai to spy on Liu Heng's mother and son in the name of giving marriage, plotting to take over the heir.

For the people of the country to stop suffering and Empress Lu to trust her more, Yi Fang proposes Liu Heng train his army in secret to repair his tomb, making everyone think she is a curse. Only Liu Heng believed in her. They went through one difficult hurdle after another and achieved outstanding achievements.

Schemes of a Beauty

Reviews of Schemes of a Beauty

Schemes of a Beauty explores a relatively cold subject in history, depicting the "struggles" of Empress Dou when she was young.

Although there are many clues, the story is very tight, the perspective is unique, and the second half of the play is even stronger than the first half. It also shows the charm of some Han Dynasty costumes.

Schemes of a Beauty

 

Top 9 Classic Chinese Palace Dramas That Worth Watching

Ruyi's Royal Love in the Palace · 如懿传

  • Also known as: Ruyi Zhuan, Inner Palace: Legend of Ruyi
  • Aired: August 20, 2018
  • Episodes/Duration: 87/45min
  • Period Background: Qianlong period of the Qing Dynasty
  • Genres: Historical, Political, Harem, Romance
  • Main Role: Zhou Xun as Ulanara Ruyi, Wallace Huo as Emperor Qianlong, Janine Chang as Keliyete Hailan

Ruyi's Royal Love in the Palace

Plot Summary of Ruyi's Royal Love in the Palace

In 1735, when Qianlong reigned, Ruyi, a side concubine whom he knew as a young teenager, entered the palace as a concubine according to the ritual. They had a marriage journey from love and acquaintance to loss and ruin in the court.

When the new emperor ascends to the throne, Ruyi becomes consort Xian because of her childhood friendship with Qianlong, and because of this, she is ostracized by the other concubines, in addition, the Empress Dowager has a family feud with Ruyi, so Ruyi is in crisis.

Ruyi's Royal Love in the Palace

At this time, Qianlong is also faced with the same problem of Empress Dowager taking power and the old ministers taking control of the dynasty. During the change of power, Qianlong and Ruyi supported each other through the difficulties until they cleared the hurdles. After years of hard work, Qianlong was able to elevate Ruyi to the position of Empress and share the country with her.

However, after becoming Empress, Ruyi discovers that Qianlong has grown from a teenage husband to a mature emperor, whose suspicious and fickle nature and imperial selfishness continue to reveal themselves. The love and trust between the two gradually breaks down. But Ruyi continues to hold on to the good memories and abide by her duties as empress until her death.

Ruyi's Royal Love in the Palace

Reviews of Ruyi's Royal Love in the Palace

Ruyi's Royal Love in the Palace is a reasonable way to interpret the richness and diversity of complex human nature, and then through the actors' performances and the setting of the plot, the audience gradually feels and understands them, the "everywhere is a scene" presentation in the camera and the unhurried narrative rhythm is what makes this work unique.

Ruyi's Royal Love in the Palace

Equally outstanding are the costumes of the Qing Dynasty in the drama, from everyday clothes to formal dresses, which are considered the best among palace dramas.

Ruyi's Royal Love in the Palace

Ruyi's Royal Love in the Palace

 

Top 9 Classic Chinese Palace Dramas That Worth Watching

Legend of Lu Zhen · 陆贞传奇

  • Also known as: Lu Zhen Chuan Qi
  • Aired: May 5, 2013
  • Episodes/Duration: 45/45min
  • Period Background: Northern and Southern Dynasties Period
  • Genres: Historical, Political, Harem, Romance
  • Main Role: Zhao Li Ying as Lu Zhen, Chen Xiao as Gao Zhan, Qiao Ren Liang as Gao Yan

Legend of Lu Zhen Legend of Lu Zhen

Plot Summary of Legend of Lu Zhen

During the Northern and Southern Dynasties, the dynasties were changed, and the people were suffering from war and chaos.

Lu Zhen was born in a family of royal merchants. To avoid her stepmother's pursuit, she took the examination for palace maids and entered the court.

In the palace, Lu Zhen works hard, and with her intelligence and wit, she becomes a female official, and because of her kindness, she touches the heart of Crown Prince Gao Zhan.

Legend of Lu Zhen

But, the jealousy of court lady Shen Bi, the hatred of Gao Zhan's first lover Xiao Huan Yun, and the hatred of Empress Lou, who has a grudge against Gao Zhan for killing his mother, are all intertwined in Lu Zhen, and she is in danger of dying if she is not careful. Driven by historical trends and political waves, Lu Zhen writes her own legend of a female minister.

Reviews of Legend of Lu Zhen

Legend of Lu Zhen, a costume drama set in the Northern Qi Dynasty, is just a legend, not a biography of a historical figure. The plot is tumultuous, but at the same time, a unique personality from Lu Zhen, and to feel the positive energy connotation from her growing fate.

Legend of Lu Zhen

 

Top 9 Classic Chinese Palace Dramas That Worth Watching

Story of Yanxi Palace · 延禧攻略

  • Also known as: Yanxi Gonglue
  • Aired: July 19, 2018
  • Episodes/Duration: 70/45min
  • Period Background: the early years of the Qianlong period of the Qing Dynasty
  • Genres: Historical, Political, Romance, Harem
  • Main Role: Wu Jin Yan as Wei Ying Luo, Nie Yuan as Emperor Qianlong, Qin Lan as Empress Fuca Rongyin, Xu Kai as Fuca Fuheng

Story of Yanxi Palace

Plot Summary of Story of Yanxi Palace

The story takes place in the early years of the Qianlong period of the Qing Dynasty. The girl Wei Ying Luo entered the palace with a group of young girls of the same age.

She is beautiful and sensitive, but her initial reason for entering the palace is different from other girls. As her sister was murdered, Ying Luo determined to enter the Forbidden City to track down the murderer.

Story of Yanxi Palace

She mistakenly believes that Fu Heng, the emperor's brother is the real culprit, so she approaches him under false pretenses. After clearing up the misunderstanding, Ying Luo fell in love with the man.

Empress Fuca appreciates Ying Luo's intelligence and left Ying Luo by her side to be carefully trained. In order to gain the favor of Emperor Qianlong, the women in the palace are willing to fight with each other. In the inhumane place, Ying Luo forced to fight in order to protect herself. As she comes into contact with the emperor more and more, she also begins to gain the emperor's favor.

Story of Yanxi Palace

Reviews of Story of Yanxi Palace

The drama breaks with the usual persona of the female lead, who is articulate and adaptable, defying the powers that be while persisting in her personal pursuits. The drama is filled with Yu Zheng's keen sense of the market. Modern urban women can find a mapping of themselves in the drama, which portrays a new female personality that is more vital and better adapted to the needs of modern society.

Story of Yanxi Palace

At the same time, this drama has innovated a new aesthetic of ancient costume dramas, with advanced gray and Morandi colors becoming popular in palace dramas. The costumes, makeup, and props in the Story of Yanxi Palace are all exquisite, and intangible cultural heritage such as kunqu, traditional Chinese embroidery, and Kesi techniques are all shown in the drama.

Story of Yanxi Palace

 

Top 9 Classic Chinese Palace Dramas That Worth Watching

Beyond The Realm Of Conscience · 宫心计

  • Also known as: Gong Xin Ji
  • Aired: October 19, 2009
  • Episodes/Duration: 33/40min
  • Period Background: Tang Dynasty
  • Genres: Historical, Political, Harem
  • Main Role: Charmaine Sheh as Liu San Hao, Tavia Yeung as Yao Jin Ling
  • Related Dramas: Deep in the Realm of Conscience

Beyond The Realm Of Conscience

Plot Summary of Beyond The Realm Of Conscience

Liu San Hao was originally the descendant of an official, but unfortunately, his father became a sacrificial lamb during the change of power, and San Hao was incorporated into the palace as a maid with his mother Jiang Cai Qiong and his slave girl Yao Jin Ling.

Jiang Cai Qiong had a family craft to work in Sizhen Bureau. Once, the phoenix bead hairpin made by Jiang Cai Qiong for the Empress had the inauspicious symbol of "phoenix crying for blood" and was dismissed from her job and sentenced to death by the cane. Before she died, she urged her daughter to "do the good deed, say the good word, save the good heart".

Beyond The Realm Of Conscience

Liu San Hao and Yao Jin Ling are dependent on each other in the palace, both serving in the Shang Gong Bureau. However, in the palace, Yao Jin Ling is more ambitious and repeatedly sets Liu San Hao up.

In contrast, San Hao always remembered her mother's will and kept her original heart even in the malicious palace. What kind of ending do they get in the end?

Beyond The Realm Of Conscience

Reviews of Beyond The Realm Of Conscience

In Beyond The Realm Of Conscience, people are cheating on each other for power, and the treacherous characters are ruthlessly pressing, while the good characters are struggling step by step for a turnaround.

The drama is rich in ancient costumes, of which the lead actress Charmaine Sheh has 17 looks and more than 30 sets of costumes.

Beyond The Realm Of Conscience

 

Top 9 Classic Chinese Palace Dramas That Worth Watching

Which is the best palace drama in your mind? Discuss with me in the comment section.

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2 Comment(s) A文章作者 M管理员
  1. Imah

    Yang cowok Ciri khas banget

  2. SGT_Valorour

    Empresses in the Palace is definitely the best work in this subject.

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