The Empress of China
The Empress of China (simplified Chinese: 武媚娘传奇; traditional Chinese: 武媚娘傳奇; pinyin: Wǔ Mèiniáng chuánqí) is a 2014 Chinese television series based on events in 7th and 8th-century Tang dynasty, starring producer Fan Bingbing as the titular character Wu Zetian—the only female emperor (empress regnant) in the Chinese history.
|The Empress of China|
The Empress of China (China) official poster
|Also known as||Wu Ze Tian|
|Directed by||Go Yik Chun|
|Opening theme||China and Taiwan:|
Thousands of Years by Sun Nan
The Empress by Joey Yung
|Country of origin||China|
|No. of episodes||Original version: 82|
Hunan TV: 96
|Executive producer(s)||Wu Hongliang|
|Production location(s)||Mainland China|
Hengdian World Studios
CCTV Wuxi Film & TV Base
|Production company(s)||Fan Bingbing Studio|
China Film Group Corporation
Zhejiang Talent Television & Film
Evergrande Film Co.
Duzhe Publishing Media Co.
|Original network||Hunan Television|
|Original release||21 December 2014 –|
3 February 2015
|Official Weibo page|
|The Empress of China|
|Chinese name (in mainland China and Taiwan)|
|Hanyu Pinyin||Wǔ Mèiniáng chuánqí|
|Cantonese Yale||Móuh Mèihnèuhng chyùhnkèih|
|Chinese name (in Hong Kong, Macau and Malaysia)|
|Hanyu Pinyin||Wǔ Zétiān|
|Cantonese Yale||Móuh Jāktīn|
It is the third television production by Fan Bingbing Studio and boasts of a budget of over ¥300 million (roughly US$49.53 million). As such, it is believed to be among the most expensive TV series in Chinese history, beating the previous record of ¥280 million by Heroes in Sui and Tang Dynasties (2013). The television series was first broadcast on Hunan Television on 21 December 2014 in mainland China.
During Tang Dynasty's 2nd reign, Wu Ruyi (Fan Bingbing) enters the palace at age 14 as an innocent Cairen (Talented Lady) and aspires to serve Emperor Taizong (Zhang Fengyi) as his consort. The Emperor Taizong soon takes notice of her and falls in love with her, inciting many to grow jealous of her. They set out to destroy her numerous times by falsely accusing her of theft, murder and treachery. She survives by her wits and intelligence but is kept at arm's length by Emperor Taizong due to a prophecy foretelling a woman of Wu stealing the Tang Dynasty. When Emperor Taizong dies, she is sent to a monastery to become a nun. However, the Emperor's youngest son Li Zhi (Aarif Rahman), who later becomes the Emperor Gaozong, has been in love with her since he was a child. He brings her back to the palace and makes her his concubine. During her time as a minor consort to Emperor Taizong, she learned how an effective Emperor rules his court. Using that knowledge, she helped Li Zhi take back power from his Regent, and herself into the position of Empress meanwhile avenging her daughter's death. She co-ruled with Li Zhi until his death, after which she ruled the country in her own right.
Emperor Taizong's harem
Emperor Gaozong's harem
- Lee Lee-zen as Li Chengqian
- Li Jie as Li Ke
- Ren Shan as Li Tai
- Xue Yongyu as Li You
- Li Yuexi as Crown Princess Su Mei
- Mi Lu as Princess Gaoyang
- Cui Can as Li Sujie
- Zhang Xuanming as Li Zhong
- Chen Jingyuan as childhood Li Zhong
- Kang Fuzhen as Li Hong
- Wang Wenjie as young Li Xián
- Yu Wentong as mid-age Li Xiǎn
- Xi Yuli as Wei Shi
Ministers and generals
- Li Chen as Li Mu
- Wu Xiubo as younger Zhang Jianzhi
- Wei Zi as older Zhang Jianzhi
- Wang Huichun as Zhangsun Wuji
- Wang Qianhng as Zhangsun Chong
- Yao Yanlin as Shangguan Yi
- Zheng Xiaozhong as Pei Yan
- Liu Zuhe as Xu Jingzong
- Li Yansheng as Chu Suiliang
- Li Guangfu as Wei Zheng
- Yu Haoming as Li Chunfeng
- Yu Ailei as Li Yifu
- Hou Jie as Hou Junji
- Liu Xiaoxi as Fang Xuanling
- Zhu Xiaohui as Fang Yi'ai, Princess Gaoyang's husband
- Sun Ning as Li Shiji
- Qin Qidong as Bianji, Princess Gaoyang's illicit lover
- Xu Jie as Di Renjie
- Shen Baoping as Wang De, Emperor Taizong's personal attendant
- He Xin as Chengxin, Crown Prince's companion
- Wang Zhen as Chun Ying, Consort Wei's personal attendant
- Chen Si Si as Qing Shun, Consort Yang's personal attendant
- Tu Liman as Liu Siyao, Consort De's personal attendant
- Wang Yanan as Wen Niang, Xu Hui's personal attendant
- Gao Yuan as Rui An
- Shōta Matsushima as Motsube Amamori, a Japanese chess player
Zhejiang Talent Television & Film, China Film Group Corporation, Evergrande Film Co., Duzhe Publishing Media Co., Jilin Television, and Guangxi Television co-financed the TV series.
The official character posters were released on February 12, 2014. The release of the photos was a gift sent by the crew to the TV audience for the Chinese New Year. Fan said the role was one she had always dreamed of playing and every generation had different interpretations and she hope she could interpret the character in her own way.
A broadcast press conference was held in Beijing on December 18, 2014. The TV series has more than 260 sets of clothing for Fan Bingbing and more than 3,000 sets of clothing for the whole crew, with the most expensive piece being the dragon robe at over 500,000 CNY. Wu Hongliang, one of the producers, said the crew had more than 600 people, shooting lasted for almost 10 months, and several writers worked on the script for three years.
The series' Chinese name was initially Wu Zetian, and then renamed to The Legend of Wu Zetian. Just two days before the broadcasting date, it was renamed again as The Legend of Wu Meiniang. This was required by the State Administration of Radio, Film, and Television (SARFT).
The series' musical score was composed by Dong Dongdong, who previously wrote the music to No Man's Land and Beijing Love Story. At the first, the production company intended to invite musicians from Korea, Japan and China mainland, but the idea was changed due to China's censorship policy on TV series changing. Initially, one TV series could broadcast on four satellite channels, but in 2015 it was revised to allow broadcasting on two satellite channels. Considering the cost recovery and the busy post-production schedule, the production company invited the native composer Dong Dongdong.
The closing theme song was called Wu Zi Bei (Chinese: 无字碑; literally: 'Wordless Tablet'), sung by Jane Zhang, lyrics by Vincent Fang, and music by Aarif Rahman. The song premiered during a Sina live stream session on 16 December 2014 and topped the New Song Chart as the most listened song with the view count exceeding 1.37 million.
China and Taiwan
|1.||"For Thousands of Years" (千秋)||Chen Xi||Dong Dongdong||Sun Nan||2:42|
|2.||"Wordless Tablet" (無字碑)||Vincent Fang||Aarif Rahman||Jane Zhang||3:04|
|3.||"Dare To Rule The World" (敢為天下先)||Chen Xi||Dong Dongdong||Jane Zhang||3:33|
|4.||"Heaven" (蒼天)||Chris Shum||Leon Ko||Jacky Cheung & Evonne Hsu||4:04|
The Empress of China began airing from December 21, 2014 exclusively on Hunan Television in mainland China, and has also been broadcast on Chung T'ien Television in Taiwan, TVB in Hong Kong, and Golden Town Film Co., Ltd in Thailand.
The TV drama was suspended for four days from December 28, 2014 to January 1, 2015. Hunan Television said on its official Sina Weibo account that the TV drama will stop from Sunday on due to 'technical' reasons but will return to the screen on January 1, 2015. However, it was reported that the actual reason for this suspension was because the dresses were 'too exposing', especially in the chest region and the broadcasting authorities demanded the broadcaster edit the TV drama and then submit again for censorship. The show returned to screens on January 1, 2015, but with edited scenes that removed much of the shots of cleavage area. Wide shots and close-ups were heavily employed to minimize the amount of cleavage. Chinese Internet users responded by complaining about the censorship on Weibo. Several complained that they would not be able to see the hundreds of costume changes by Fan Bingbing. Some reports noted that the Tang Dynasty was one of the greatest dynasties in ancient China, and women were known to wear revealing attire.
Likewise, any scenes showing intimacy or affection between the protagonists were completely cut (like the bath tub or kissing scenes), which makes following the drama's storyline difficult at times.
Hong Kong free-to-air channel TVB Jade began broadcast of the drama on April 26, 2015. Due to the length of the series, the drama was reduced by ten episodes and TVB also changed their broadcast schedule to have the drama air throughout the entire week Sunday to Saturday. In order to avoid the cleavage exposing controversy without zooming-in scenes like the version aired in mainland China, TVB hired CGI experts to add an effect clothing to cover up the cleavage. TVB also aired original audio and a Cantonese dubbed version on their Jade channel.
The Empress of China was a commercial success. The show's first episode broke rating records. Despite the re-edits to please SARFT, the viewership ratings of The Empress of China remained at an all-time high. Its final episode achieved a rating of 4%, making it the highest rated drama of the year.
Despite its success, the drama received mixed to negative reviews. The audiences praised the beautiful costume, but complained the slow narrative rhythm and said the plot turns dramatically without foreshadowing, as it's broken and not linked well at all. Some reports noted that the protagonist was overpowered, and was not a factually accurate account of history. Wu Zetian had several battles with her opponent Zhangsun Wuji in history, but in the drama, Wu Zetian was shaped into an innocent woman.
- Mainland China
|Episode||Date||CSM50||CSM national network|
|1-3||December 21, 2014||2.280||6.050||1||2.14||6.13||2|
|4-6||December 22, 2014||2.396||6.681||1||2.45||7.23||1|
|7-9||December 23, 2014||2.714||7.774||1||2.65||7.98||1|
|10-12||December 24, 2014||2.469||6.936||1||2.66||7.69||1|
|13-15||December 25, 2014||2.678||7.378||1||2.77||8.09||1|
|16||December 26, 2014||2.429||6.513||1||2.54||6.56||1|
|17||December 27, 2014||2.546||6.748||1|
|18-20||January 1, 2015||2.579||6.944||1||2.65||7.27||1|
|21||January 2, 2015||2.533||6.838||1|
|22||January 3, 2015||2.400||6.274||1|
|23-25||January 4, 2015||2.697||7.401||1||2.52||7.33||1|
|26-28||January 5, 2015||2.722||7.304||1||2.46||7.06||1|
|29-31||January 6, 2015||2.857||7.712||1||2.57||7.25||1|
|32-34||January 7, 2015||2.716||7.209||1||2.58||7.26||1|
|35-37||January 8, 2015||2.849||7.721||1||2.59||7.48||1|
|38||January 9, 2015||2.443||6.472||1||2.66||7.23||1|
|39||January 10, 2015||2.830||7.390||1|
|40-42||January 11, 2015||2.773||7.409||1|
|43-45||January 12, 2015||2.648||7.235||1||2.67||7.61||1|
|46-48||January 13, 2015||3.121||8.363||1||2.95||8.28||1|
|49-51||January 14, 2015||2.780||7.389||1||3.09||8.68||1|
|52-54||January 15, 2015||2.982||8.070||1||3.15||8.73||1|
|55||January 16, 2015||2.417||6.424||1||3.14||8.45||1|
|56||January 17, 2015||3.067||7.952||1|
|57-59||January 18, 2015||2.983||7.938||1|
|60-62||January 19, 2015||3.034||8.235||1||3.28||9.20||1|
|63-65||January 20, 2015||3.062||8.243||1||3.40||9.41||1|
|66-68||January 21, 2015||3.088||8.282||1||3.33||9.21||1|
|69-71||January 22, 2015||3.411||8.855||1||3.96||10.69||1|
|72||January 23, 2015||2.634||6.981||1||3.46||9.36||1|
|73||January 24, 2015||2.711||7.277||1|
|74-76||January 25, 2015||3.264||8.420||1|
|77-79||January 26, 2015||3.378||8.898||1||3.52||9.81||1|
|80-82||January 27, 2015||3.551||9.273||1||4.00||10.91||1|
|83-85||January 28, 2015||3.737||9.623||1||4.35||11.85||1|
|86-88||January 29, 2015||3.515||9.108||1||4.10||11.16||1|
|89||January 30, 2015||2.657||6.992||1||3.71||9.99||1|
|90||January 31, 2015||2.434||6.407||1|
|91-92||February 1, 2015||3.313||8.763||1|
|93-94||February 2, 2015||4.102||10.901||1||4.64||12.80||1|
|95-96||February 3, 2015||4.234||11.171||1||5.08||13.68||1|
|Total average||2.959||7.926||1 in 2014||3.17||8.81||1 in 2014|
|1-5||1||March 30, 2015 - April 3, 2015||1.21||4|
|6-10||2||April 6, 2015 - April 10, 2015||1.50||4|
|11-15||3||April 13, 2015 - April 17, 2015||1.64||4|
|16-20||4||April 20, 2015 - April 24, 2015||1.90||3|
|21-25||5||April 27, 2015 - May 1, 2015||1.80||3|
|26-30||6||May 4, 2015 - May 8, 2015||1.91||3|
|31-35||7||May 11, 2015 - May 15, 2015||1.90||3|
|36-40||8||May 18, 2015 - May 22, 2015||2.21||3|
|41-45||9||May 25, 2015 - May 29, 2015||2.27||3|
|46-50||10||June 1, 2015 - June 5, 2015||2.37||3|
|51-55||11||June 8, 2015 - June 12, 2015||2.49||3|
|56-60||12||June 15, 2015 - June 19, 2015||2.38||3|
|61-65||13||June 22, 2015 - June 26, 2015||2.75||3|
|66-70||14||June 29, 2015 - July 3, 2015||2.76||3|
|71-75||15||July 6, 2015 - July 10, 2015||3.16||3|
|76-80||16||July 13, 2015 - July 17, 2015||2.72||3|
|81-84||17||July 20, 2015 - July 23, 2015||3.06||3|
- Hong Kong
|#||Timeslot (HKT)||Week||Episode(s)||Average points||Peaking points|
|1||Sun – Sat 21:30||26 April 2015||1||24||26|
|2||27 April－3 May 2015||2－8||25||28|
|3||04－10 May 2015||9－15||26||29|
|4||11－17 May 2015||16－22||27||28|
|5||18－22 May 2015||23－28||26||27|
|6||25－31 May 2015||29－34||26||28|
|7||01－7 June 2015||35－41||26||29|
|8||08－14 June 2015||42－48||25||28|
|9||15－21 June 2015||49－55||26||30|
|10||22－28 June 2015||56－61||27||32|
|11||29 June－5 July 2015||62－67||28||32|
|12||06－12 July 2015||68－75||29||37|
Awards and nominations
|2015||Huading Awards||Best Actress||Fan Bingbing||Nominated|
|Best Actor (Ancient)||Aarif Lee||Won|
|Best Supporting Actress||Zhang Ting||Nominated|
|Best Producer||Fan Bingbing||Nominated|
|Top 10 Dramas||Won|
|China TV Drama Awards||Top 10 Television Series||Won|
|Best Actress||Fan Bingbing||Won|
|Hunan TV||December 21, 2014||cut & edited version|
|ZJSTV||January 14, 2015|
|Henan TV||April 1, 2015|
|BTV||April 26, 2015|
|CTi TV||March 30, 2015||original|
|ELTA TV||April 2, 2015|
|GTV||November 12, 2015|
|TVB Jade||April 26, 2015||cut, edited & Cantonese dubbed|
|TVB HD Jade|
|Astro On Demand||April 26, 2015||TVB version, Cantonese dubbed|
|Astro Wah Lai Toi||April 4, 2016|
|8TV||April 21, 2017||TVB version, original audio|
|VV Drama||August 12, 2015|
|CTV8 HD||November 11, 2015||TVB version, Khmer dubbed|
|Chunghwa TV||March 14, 2016||TVB version, original audio|
|Channel Ginga||July 18, 2016|
|Channel 3||May 1, 2017||TVB version, Thai dubbed|
- "Fan Bingbing's Empress Wu Zetian Makeup Released". womenofchina.cn. February 12, 2014. Retrieved February 12, 2014.
- (in Chinese) 范爷3亿“讨”江山 Archived 2014-08-09 at the Wayback Machine
- (in Chinese) 《隋唐演义》2.8亿刷新最烧钱电视剧纪录 Archived 2014-08-09 at the Wayback Machine
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- "范冰冰亮相《武则天》开机仪式 俏皮装束卖萌". hexun.com. 28 December 2013.
- (in Chinese) 电视剧《武则天》无锡开机 女神范冰冰亮相
- "Fan Bingbing flaunts full bust for new role "Wu Zetian"". msn.com. 14 February 2014. Archived from the original on 19 August 2014. Retrieved 14 February 2014.
- (in Chinese) 范冰冰在绍兴拍《武则天》 粉丝跟紧紧(图)
- "TV Series Featuring Fan Bingbing as Empress Wu Zetian to Air Soon". womenofchina.cn. 19 December 2014.
- 《武则天传奇》年底登陆湖南卫视. NetEase (in Chinese). 19 December 2014.
- "Hit show's suspension leads to widespread speculation". Sina. December 30, 2014.
- "Chinese drama 'The Empress of China' taken off air for being 'too sexy'". Shanghaiist. December 30, 2014.
- "TV drama cut over too-sexy outfits". December 30, 2014.
- "The Empress Of China returns to TV without cleavage". DramaFever. 4 January 2015.
- "TV show 'The Empress of China' returns". China.org.cn. January 4, 2015.
- "The Empress of China" Censors Cleavage After Re-broadcast". JayneStars. 4 January 2015.
- "Sexy China TV drama busted, returns to air more sedate". Reuters. January 3, 2015.
- "Cantonese Version of 'The Empress of China' to Air on TVB on April 26". China Topix.
- "TVB to Air Select Dramas 7 Days a Week". JayneStars.
- "TVB Uses CGI to Censor Cleavage in "The Empress of China"". JayneStars.
- "《武媚娘传奇》一波未平一波又起". qnsb.com. 22 January 2015.
- "新版武媚娘 换个马甲的甄嬛？". why.com.cn. 24 December 2015.
- "武媚娘"拦截"一剧四星末班车". why.com.cn. 4 January 2015.
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