So I had watched the original tv series. This was yet another story that gets compared to Bu Bu Jing Xing and comes out wanting. I ended up not that into bbjx in the long run, but I understand peoples' obsession. Anyways, that's probably another post if I feel up to it.
The original Gong had time travel, which was much cuter and funny in the beginning. This movie stayed firmly in the past.
A young girl goes into the Palace to become a maid until the age of 25, that's when they will be let out. She accidentally met the future love of her life as a child, the 13th Prince. Until then, she met her two best friends: another maid and a young eunuch. Fast forward, her friend Liu Li has her eyes on the 9th Prince, while our heroine named Cheng Xian (meaning incense, thus Sinensis) continued to love the 13th Prince from afar. To help out Liu Li, she went on night duty with a handkerchief over her face and accidentally connected with the 13th Prince. Whereas Liu Li gets seduced and tossed aside by the 9th Prince. As fate would have it, in her desire for wealth and power, Liu Li lied that she was on night duty (since it was her handkerchief) and stole the opportunity to marry the 13th Prince. Thus signallying the breakdown of this once close friendship. All the while, the struggle for succession to be the next Emperor raged in the background...
They had some awesome actors and actresses indeed, but oh my goshes was the storyline messy.
It was so visually beautiful to watch, but the storyline was just such a jumble. There were quite a lot of interesting aspects and characters, but then all everything was forcibly jammed into this ball of emotional jellybean of flavors, where instead of being unique They tried to cram too much into it and a lot of the strength gets lost. Example was the number of great actors and actresses that had less than 5 min of screen time to express all their background and character. Luckily, the actors/actresses were so skilled they were able to...but not fully. Even the MV and stuff made it seem more exciting that it really was in the movie, although this has been a problem everywhere recently.
(the main song, pretty song and I listen to it a lot)
I am pretty sure it will be popular in its own right. As much as the screenwriter has annoyed me with his insane jin yong fanfiction disaster occasional melodrama storylines and idealized characters, he has been very good at a few things: capturing 'feelings' and visual drawings. He knows how to play the viewers emotions as well as "showing." Only a top writer can fully express a lot of these hidden human nuances, but he only got half of it. He has been extremely good at giving a character reasoning and background, while at the same time keeping everything idealized. Which ends up being very fun to watch, but something always seemed off about it. The other "theme" I kept finding in this writer's work has been this very strong sense of idealism. It's both good and bad, I guess since it depends on how it's portrayed. It makes the entire storyline much more attractive. At the same time, it goes overboard and as a viewer, I get snapped out of the suspension of disbelief.
Also, let's just note the historical aspects with his stories tend to be on fantasy side. Yinxiang (13th Prince) historically had like 4 wives and 2 more, and they were all of high class families. It would be impossible for him to actually simply marry and elevate a maid as a Primary wife. If we wanted to go loyal guys, I can name a few Emperors that were more monogamous, or married commoners. So, the historical aspects were very much nonsense. Don't take most of it seriously, except the succession issues, which existed in every dynsty and country.
(the breakdown of friendship)
It didn't help that the trailer had more storyline than the movie itself. It also would've been even better if the true focus stayed on the loss of friendship rather than the romantic aspect of it. It was more interesting overall, but I guess they wanted to focus on the romances as well. Plus the whole Emperor succession battle took a big part at the end as well.
See what I mean? Three (at least three, they tried to stuff some more background for the Emperor and stuff) storylines all crammed together. It was unnecessarily messy. Probably would've been more interesting had it been longer or continued on as a tv series some more, which they did. Lol. Also, for the sake of intelligence...how can a guy not tell the complete difference of voice, eyes and actions between two women. Even scent, right? Anyways, he was under duress most times so I guess it's understandable.
Some spoilers about the storyline if you're bored:
I didn't like that fact that Liu Li kind of went nuts after being abandoned by the 9th Prince. I also had a really have a hard time believing she would turn on Chen Xian so quickly for nothing. It might seem like the darker aspect of human nature, but they were such close friends - with almost a minor lesbian scene, I'm sure just to gratify the male viewers, that to me, the change should've been more gradual. She continued on an affair with the 9th Prince all the while not consummating with the 13th Prince. Kind of hard to believe, but probably happened all the time in the past.
Also, Chen Xian's love for the 13th Prince seemed a little too much. They've barely interacted in the long run and the sufferings she went through seemed kind of unnecessary. Although when they had the big Misunderstanding, I was glad she slapped him. Finally showed some strength.
A minor note about the fake marriage, as Chen Xian requested the marriage to a eunuch, the point was to embarrass and demean them both as it could not be consummated. Then Chen Xian and the 13th Prince had a one night stand, even though the 13th Prince was temporarily blinded. Just all weird...
The fake Emperor death scene was weird and stupid. That's all.
4th Prince eventually won succession through shady means - as with history. 9th Prince gets in trouble...which leads to me, where was the 8th Prince because he was actually a bigger candidate.
Liu Li gets killed by 4th Prince, now Emperor. New Emperor figured out Chen Xian and forbids the love, blah blah blah. 13th Prince figured out everything at the end and when skipping along with Chen Xian. It was completely illogical and unbelievable but incredibly beautiful and fun to watch. So, I enjoyed it despite having to shut down my brain from thinking. Hahaha
One last thing, watching this movie made me more aware of why Swordsman
This movie had good cgi, action and general cinematography. I, personally, adored all the actors and actresses and they're wonderful to watch. It was visually beautiful. Watch for fun or entertainment, then move on.