First Impressions: Story of Yanxi Palace

As a huge fan of palace dramas with catfights and lots of schemings, Story of Yanxi Palace 延禧攻略 is totally my kind of drama as it ticks all the right boxes and even comes with a refreshing plucky female lead that kicks ass and doesn't allow herself to be bullied since the start of the drama.

Story of Yanxi Palace First Impressions
Story of Yanxi Palace is a surprisingly good watch with palace politics and lots of schemings amongst women.

Synopsis: Story of Yanxi Palace follows the story of Wei Ying Luo (acted by Wu Jin Yan) who entered the palace as a palace maid in a bid to discover the truth behind her older sister's (who was also a palace maid) death. It chronicles her journey in the Forbidden Palace as she navigates through the perils and eventually rises to become Consort Ling.

Fast-paced and loaded with 'action'

The first episode is surprisingly fast-paced and packed with 'action'. We got introduced to the spunky female lead Wei Ying Luo who saved a fellow palace maid from two potential mishaps due to her quick wit (all within one episode of content!), a sneak peek of the undercurrent of tension between the Empress (acted by Qin Lan) and Consort Gao (acted by Tan Zhuo), a glimpse of the other consorts and the hierarchy of power among them.

Story of Yanxi Palace First Impressions
Story of Yanxi Palace chronicles the life of Wei Ying Luo who navigates through the dangers in the palace and eventually becomes Consort Ling.

At this stage, it is still not easy to tell who is really good and who might be secretly bad except for Consort Gao who is blatantly bad. Yes, she is that obvious in her portrayal of a power-hungry troublemaker consort used to getting her way. Expect lots of insolent eye rolling and sneering in Consort Gao's scenes. In fact when I was watching Consort Gao's scenes, I can't help but wonder if the actress was inspired by Jiang Xin's Hua Fei from Legend of Zhen Huan. The end result is unfortunately a rather one-dimensional portrayal though.

Story of Yanxi Palace First Impressions
Tan Zhuo as Consort Gao, a power hungry consort who is always pitting against the Empress.

The biggest highlight of any palace dramas has got to be the intricate relationships among the consorts and their true selves and motivations. I am definitely interested to know more about the rest of the consorts one by one as well as see them pit themselves against one another as the drama goes on.

Plucky and Intelligent Female Lead that is a refreshing change

I've not heard of the lead actress Wu Jing Yan before and frankly speaking, my first thought was ......this lady does not look like a lead. I mean I will believe if she is acting as a sidekick palace maid throughout the drama. However I think she did a decent job in her portrayal, and it indeed helped a lot that her role is a likeable and believable one that makes it easy to be popular among viewers.

Story of Yanxi Palace First Impressions
Wu Jing Yan acted as the spunky female lead Wei Ying Luo who fights back when bullied.
Contrary to typical palace dramas where the female lead is often portrayed as naive and too-nice-for-their-own-good initially, over here we have a female lead unapologetic about standing up for herself and others when bullied. She believes in getting revenge and serving the bullies their just desserts which makes it a really refreshing and satisfying change. It certainly piques my interest and makes me keen in following her journey as she manoeuvres through the dangers in the palace and deals the evildoers the comeuppance they deserve.

Given the hype that this drama is getting right now, I'm curious to see if Wu Jin Yan will propel into A-list fame (much like Sun Li after Legend of Zhen Huan) after this drama ends. While I have no complaints about her acting, I did not detect much star power or anything especially remarkable from her yet and will have to watch on to find out.

Judging from the fast-paced and addictive plot I have watched so far, I expect Story of Yanxi Palace to be a enjoyable and binge-worthy watch, and will especially appeal to viewers who are into grand settings, palace politics and lots of schemings amongst women.

If you enjoyed reading my review, be sure to check out my blog where I write about C-dramas, K-dramas and occasional travel pieces!


  1. Qin Lan gets more hype and popularity than her at the moment... I do think it will get her increased recognition, but not Sun Li level yet.

  2. She played the Empress Dowager in Untouchable Lovers. Her style in that compared to this drama is like night and day. LOL! I thought she was quite good in Untouchable Lovers and think she is going to be a rising star to look out for.

  3. I do see Wu Jin Yan in a very good light and good future. I saw a few high lights somewhere in youtube, surprised that she played an evil mean girl role too. And her acting was really convincingly good no matter what she play as. She'd never care about how ugly her face would look, she is only concern about making the correct expressions to make her character convincing and alive. I'm so glad she did that because she has the "young girl" face. And usually, with the new generation actresses today with young girl face such as DLRB, YM, ZLY, they are way off too wary of how their faces will look like when crying, dying, screaming, being in physical pain, being angry, etc. Because they attract more younger fans, and those fans will see actresses worthy only if they are pretty enough. If they dare to play too realistically and make ugly faces, fans from their enemies would snapshot them and write articles about them. So recently, I am really tired of C-dramas because so many new rising stars that are young looking such as Yang Zi, Ju Jingyi, Hu bingqing, etc. they are all following the same type of acting like the more famous girls, because those will sell more fans in. They must act like they are cute, and make sure there isn't a moment where their face aren't good looking.

    Usually, only the mature looking actresses such as Liu Tao, Jiang xin, Sun Li would require to have top notch skills because their faces aren't young. Even though they are better actresses, in the end it still won't be billions fans like the younger girls. But, the good thing is they are not categorized as idols, and the shows they play almost always guaranteed to be good in terms of storyline, not because of the fandom power.

    So it's really nice to see WJY being a young looking girl but pushing herself toward the classes such as Sun Li and them, not selling beauty and cuteness. I will not be surprised at all if she escape from being an idol and gets compared to Sun Li's level. Although she is very new, with this show alone, her acting doesn't lose to anyone. Her character does reminds me quite a bit of Zhou Ying as well, because of how independent and head strong they both are. Her personality off stage is also amazing, she's cool and confident.

    For Qin Lan, I am amazed by her as well. The only regret is that this is a drama under Yu Zheng so many people just hate it and skip it for that reason.

    1. Seems WJY is Yu Zheng's new favourite actress. I think there are two upcoming Yu Zheng dramas that are also casting WJY as the female lead. So I expect we will see quite a bit of WJY in the coming months.

  4. This looks amazing! Does anyone know where this is available in Eng Sub? Looked around and couldn't find anywhere.

    1. This is really amazing, I really do recommend it so much when subs are available. The main character is really special enough to root for. The side characters and villains are all interesting so when they do a break away from the main character, you don't want to fast forward anything at all. They are not wasting time to create a damn long draggy drama. Everybody is really important in the show.

      Yu Zheng has good taste in music, I love all the traditional music in it. I really like the pipa and zither background sound. In his previous dramas, he used many same musics over and over, many dramas shared the same musics, but I actually liked that very much. Maybe because the musics were traditional Chinese, with the flute and guzheng, etc...not the most catchy musics, but refreshing enough.