Synopsis by Eleanor Mannikka
Director Li Han-hsiang (Li Hanxiang) focuses on the 18th century Chinese emperor, Chien Lung (Qianlong) once again in this surprisingly light treatment of one of the most respected, long-lived, and powerful emperors in Chinese history. A comparable drama for Americans would concern the "private life" of George Washington, fleshed out with fictional dollops of intrigue, vices, and sexual exploits. The emperor in this drama travels to one of the most literate, scholarly, and garden-filled cities in China (Suzhou) absolutely incognito, we are to believe, and there indulges his interest in gambling and a certain courtesan. At the same time, his imperial qualities emerge when he shows compassion to the victims of an earthquake by actively helping them recover from their misfortune, and when he ends a series of misdeeds in a gambling establishment. Meant to entertain rather than educate in an academic sense, this costume drama should prove interesting to most audiences.