Qing gong mi shi (1948) - full transcript

"Sorrows of the Forbidden City"

Screenplay: YAO Ke

Director: ZHU Shilin

1889, the 15th year of
Guangxu Emperor's rule

- Emperor.
- Yes, Empress Dowager.

When the maidens enter the hall,

choose carefully.

When you have chosen your Empress,

hand her the jade ornament.

For those you choose as concubines,

hand them these two pouches.

Is that clear?

Yes, Empress Dowager.

The Empress is the nation's
mother. You must be cautious.

Do you remember what I've told you?

Yes, Empress Dowager.

- Li.
- Yes, Your Majesty.

- Call them in.
- Understood.

The Empress Dowager
calls for the maidens to enter.



Yes, Empress Dowager.

Give the pouches to
Changxu's two daughters.


Why isn't the Emperor here yet?

- I hear he's with Concubine Zhen.
- What?

It's getting late.

Your Majesty should go.

You want me to leave?

Your Majesty should be with

the Empress.

No, I want to stay here.

Empress Dowager has asked

Your Majesty's presence at Kun'ning
Hall for the marriage ceremony.


Concubine Zhen!

Does Your Majesty
understand what I teach before?


But "Everything under Heaven belongs
to the public." Please explain for me.

Your Majesty,

Everything under Heaven
belongs to those under Heaven.

It cannot be owned by a single person.

China has seen so much chaos

and gone through numerous dynasties.

I'm sure Your Majesty

understands what the lesson is here.

I know. A ruler must
win over its people to rule.

The ruler who doesn't
will lose everything.

That's right.

Our people are the most obedient

and the easiest to please.

As long as Your Majesty
acts with their interests in mind

and help them live
in prosperity and peace,

there will be harmony.


The troubles that have plagued the Qing

worsens by the day.

I'm afraid
our people must be disappointed.

Hence, Your Majesty must be firm

in resolving these problems

Of course I want that.

But the Empress Dowager...

Your Majesty,
where there's a will, there's a way.

"Strands of royal fragrant
mist are dimly discernible"

"The palace lights shine"

"Tonight is the ideal night"

"To tell my wishes to the gods"

"My first wish: For His
Majesty to live a long life"

"So we can grow old together"

"My second wish: For the
people to live worry-free"

"To want for nothing and be joyous"

"My third wish: May the
officials protect our nation"

"May they be united and not give up"

"When all can see that our
nation is wealthy and strong"

"The people shall bow
their heads to His Majesty"

Your Majesty. When did you get here?

Some time ago.

So you heard my prayers.


it's useless to pray to the gods.

We have no one to rely on but ourselves.

Mr. Weng just gave me a great idea.

I'm over the moon.

What was the idea?

Come, I'll tell you inside.

Let me ask you,

what do you think is
the state of our nation?

I think it's in a decline.


Mr. Weng says
for China to become strong,

we must make reforms.

What kind of reforms?

We must improve our political system.

China hasn't made any
progress for thousands of years.

It has held on to antiquated
ideas for far too long.

Look at Japan. It's merely an island

no bigger than a Chinese province,

but since their Meiji Restoration,

they've been growing stronger.

So what should we do?

It won't be easy,

but if the Empress
Dowager will allow me to act,

I'm sure I'll succeed.

I don't believe

Her Majesty will agree to it.

Are you saying she doesn't
want our country to improve?

Your Majesty
is doing the right thing,

but she is far too trusting
of outsiders' words.

There's something Your Majesty can do.

- What is it?
- Come take a look.

The Imperial Household
Department received this.


Look, the officials wish
to use the navy's funds

to renovate Summer Palace
for the Empress Dowager.

I don't understand
what they're thinking.

Is our navy more important

or is the Empress Dowager's
garden more important?

Currying her favor

is all these officials do.

How absurd!

Listen, Xiaode,

the Emperor has ordered that
no one is to disturb him tonight.

So what?

I'm here on the orders
of the Empress Dowager.

How dare you get in my way?

Tell me, do you want to lose your head?
- Come on, Xiaode,

give me a break here.
The Emperor will get mad

and I'll have to take the blame.

I see now.

You're choosing over the Emperor
over the Empress Dowager?

Is that it?

- Hmph!
- Come on,

that's not it.
Please understand my position.


Step aside,
I'm going to see the Emperor!

Xiaode! Xiaode!

Greetings, Your Majesty.

What do you want at this hour?

There's something I
must relay to Your Majesty.

What is it?

I must relay it to only Your Majesty.

- Go on.
- Understood.

The Empress feels unwell.

Your Majesty should go to her.

I don't have the time.

It's best if Your Majesty goes to her.


If anything happens because
Your Majesty's refusal,

I cannot be held responsible.

What are you saying?

The message comes from
the Empress Dowager.

I don't care, I'm not going.

Then I shall relay Your Majesty's
response to the Empress Dowager.

Go ahead.

That's easy, then.

How dare you!

Your Majesty.

Who gave you the
permission to be so insolent?!

- I...
- Repent!


I apologize, I apologize, I apologize...

- I apologize...
- Go away!


Thank you, Your Majesty.

- Come back here!
- Understood.

- Tell your master...
- Understood.

- Tell the Empress Dowager...
- Understood.

- Tell the whole world...
- Understood.

I will be wherever I please!

No one tells me otherwise!


- Go!
- Understood...

Your Majesty...

What hairstyle
will you make for me today?

Your Majesty.
I spent half of last night

creating a new hairstyle, called
"The Phoenix Faces the Sun."

That's not a bad name.

- I'll leave it to you.
- Understood.

Eunuch Li creates great
hairstyles for Your Majesty.

And he does a new one every day.

It doesn't feel right when
other people comb my hair.

Li is the only one who hasn't

broken a single strand
of hair all these years.

That's far too high of
a praise, Your Majesty.

It's not because of my skills.

It's because Your Majesty
is in such good health.

Please pick a flower, Your Majesty.

Let me take a look.

Your Majesty,
the Empress has come to pay a visit.

Ask her to come in.


The Empress may see the Empress Dowager.

Greetings, Your Majesty.

Stand up.

Thank you, Your Majesty.

Your Majesty...

What's wrong, child?

Please help me, Your Majesty.

Who has wronged you?

What's happened?

Last night,

Xiaode was...

- He was beaten.
- By whom?

It was...

the Emperor.

Xiaode is a clever fellow, isn't he?

Why was he beaten?


I get it.

- Call Xiaode in.
- Understood.

- Call Xiaode in!
- Understood.

Stand up, I'll take care of this.

Thank you, Your Majesty.

Greetings, Your Majesty.

What happened last night?

Your Majesty,

Last night,
I mentioned to the Emperor that

the Empress is unwell.

I asked the Emperor
whether he should see to her.

But before I finished speaking,

he lost his temper.

Are you two not getting along?

Your Majesty, the truth is,

The Emperor hasn't been to the
Empress' chambers since the wedding.


Is that so?

Why wasn't I told sooner?


I chose the Empress myself.

How dare he belittle her?

Your Majesty is right.

I've told the Emperor

about Your Majesty's command,

but the Emperor...

What about him?

I don't dare say it.

- Out with it.
- Understood.

His Majesty said he shall
be wherever he pleases

and no one can tell him otherwise.

- Not even Your Majesty...
- How dare he?

He's changed.

Did someone egg him on?

Your Majesty,

The Emperor has been
spending his days with Mr. Weng

and his nights with Concubine Zhen.

They're inseparable.

I hear that he listens
to everything she says.

If she wasn't present last night,

Xiaode would not have been beaten.


Well, then...


Your Majesty, an urgent memorial
from the Household Department.

What is it?

Li, take a look for me.


Your Majesty,

the Summer Palace
reconstruction has been canceled.


The funding request
has been rejected by His Majesty.

How dare he?!

His Majesty wrote this himself.

Please take a look.

"The navy's funds are
for national security."

"It cannot be diverted
without authorization."

I just needed a small garden
to move my feet.

How is that wasteful?!

Your Majesty is right,

but please don't be angry.

The Emperor can't possibly

do that to Your Majesty.

When did the Emperor
reject this memorial?

Your Majesty, it was done
last night in Tongyu Pavilion.

I hear that Concubine Zhen
was also present.

I see...

- Greetings, Concubine Jin.
- As you were.

- Where's my sister?
- Concubine Zhen is changing.

She invited me here for the portrait
and she's the one that's late.

Have you tried this?

Not yet.

Isn't this a strange contraption?

It flashes and captures your picture.

Concubine Jin,
everything is upside down in there.

Take a look.



Why are you dressed like this?

I wanted a portrait in men's clothing.

If the Empress Dowager
sees you in this...

I'm not afraid, I'm in my own home.

Sis, you must now that she
has eyes and ears everywhere.

Not even a fart gets past her.

So what?

I despise those troublemaking,
good-for-nothing leeches.

You need to watch what you say.

If you offend them,

harm will come to you.

I'm not afraid of them.

What can they possibly do to me?

Kill me?

That's enough.

Let's speak no more of this.

- Shall we take the picture?
- We shall.

let me take one of you first.

Very well. Where should we take it?

I'll find a good spot for you.

Stand over there, Jin.


Move a little to your right.

A little more.


Lift your head.

Too high. A little lower.


Give me a smile.

A bigger smile.


You have to look this way, Jin...

Greetings, Your Majesty.

As you were.

Thank you, Your Majesty.

Let me take a look at you.

Not you.

I was wondering how a boy
had wandered into the palace.

Turns out it's you!

What are you two doing?

We were getting our pictures taken.

Pictures? Are you so bored that

you have to play with a
Westerner's contraption?

This picture box was
a gift from the Emperor.

So what?

- The Emperor overrules me now? Li!
- Your Majesty.

- Destroy that Western toy!
- Understood.

Your Majesty.

This is a fascinating toy.

Wouldn't it be a waste
to destroy it?

- Then you can have it.
- Thank you, Your Majesty.

I'm granting it to you,

but it belonged to someone else.


Thank you, Concubine Zhen.

That's quite the attitude...

Look at her.

Is that not the outfit

of the Emperor?

if it displeases Your Majesty,

- I can change out of it right away.
- Zhen.

I don't dare to give such an order,

but don't forget that there
are rules in the palace.

Your Majesty,
don't you agree?


Who gave you permission
to dress like this?

Was it a gift from the Emperor as well?

I only wore it for the picture.

That doesn't mean you can
disregard the family's rules.

There's no rule that forbids
me from wearing men's clothes.

How dare you talk back to me?

I decide the rules here!

Take those clothes off
and tear them apart!

Please show mercy.

Stay out of this!

- Do it!
- Understood!

On your knees!

Zhen... Zhen...

I said off your knees!

Oh, goodness, me.

She almost slapped my teeth off.

Your Majesty, I've never been beaten

on your behalf!

You should mind the
master when you beat a dog!

What is this insolence?!

Li, slap her!

Concubine Zhen,

I'm only acting on Her Majesty's orders.

It's not personal.
You can't not blame me.


How dare you, bastard?


I ordered him to do it!
How dare you?!

That's how it is?

You haven't even greeted me
and you're tending to your mistress?

My apologies.

Fine, but you're getting
more insolent by the day.

Let me ask you,

were you the one who rejected
this memorial about funding?

I did.

Didn't you know
that I ordered it?

I do.

In that case,
why did you reject it?

Do you still
give a damn about me?

Your Majesty, the navy
needs the funds for warships.

That's why I don't dare divert it.

If Your Majesty wants a garden,
I can discuss it with the governors...

The Empress Dowager is departing!

Your Majesty.

Are you alright, Zhen?

I'm fine.


Your Majesty.

Our navy...

1894, the 20th year of
Guangxu Emperor's rule

has always been our vassal state.

But Japan sent in its army
under the guise of quelling a revolt.

It's clearly an excuse for annexation.

This has been dragging on for too long.

Tell me how we should resolve this.

I think the only way is to go to war.

Our navy isn't strong enough.

I'm afraid we won't be able
to defeat them.

The navy... The navy!

Where has our navy
gone? If it wasn't for...

Your Majesty.

As long as
our soldiers give their all,

we should be able
to put up a fight.

Please approach with caution,
Your Majesty.

I know this may not be
a battle we can win,

but we can't just give
Korea away without a fight.

We should go to war.

There's a chance we can win.

Mr. Weng, write a public proclamation.

We're going to war with Japan!

We've lost...

We've lost again.

I pray to you, ancestors,

please protect the Great Qing.

Please protect the Great Qing...

1898, the 24th year of
Guangxu Emperor's rule.

I, Kang Youwei, greet Your Majesty.

Please stand.

Thank you, Your Majesty.

Mr. Weng sings your praises.

I am flattered, Your Majesty.

I am here to serve.

How do you think

we should implement reforms?

We must first establish a
constitution and a political system.

We must repair our weapons
and recruit new solders.

We should observe
neighboring countries

and analyze
how they became prosperous.

We shall use their
strengths to fix our flaws.

Your Majesty,
please show determination

and implement reforms at once.

I, Ronglu, greet Your Majesty.


I'm appointing you
as the Viceroy of Zhili.

You will oversee the
military in the Beiyang region.

Keep a close eye on things
when you get to Tianjin.

If there's any trouble,

come see me right
away with soldiers in tow.

Don't forget your orders.

Understood. Thank you, Your Majesty.

Those conservative ministers
oppose me at every turn.

What should I do?

I believe Your Majesty
must show your resolve

and dismiss
all those useless officials.

It will conserve expenditures

and pave the way for a new government.

But the veteran officials are
loyal to the Empress Dowager.

I must be wary of that.

Your Majesty,
it's because of those people

that China has fallen
to its current state.

The new and the old
cannot co-exist.

Very well.

It shall be done!

It was done without
even consulting me once!

He is clearly out of control.

We have served Your Majesty for decades!

We're all devastated.

I believe
the Emperor's reforms won't work.

Your Majesty must intervene!

Please, Your Majesty! Please!


I call it treason.

As long as I live,

he doesn't get the last word!

Step down for now.

I will sort this out.

Your Majesty,

it's getting late.

Please take some rest.

Your Majesty has worked

day and night
since making the reforms.

Our nation's affairs
may be important,

but Your Majesty
must take good care.

Sun De...

You must know
the future of our nation

- depends on this.
- I understand.

Your Majesty, I have just heard
very important news.

What is it?

The Empress Dowager has decided

to accompany you to
Tianjin for troop inspection.


I hear that when Your
Majesty leaves Beijing,

she will dismiss and arrest
the reformist ministers.


There's another thing...

But I don't dare say it.

Out with it.

I hear the Empress Dowager
will depose Your Majesty

and appoint another emperor.

I don't care about being deposed,

but if we continue the status quo,
the Great Qing is surely doomed.

Your Majesty,

shall we ask Mr. Kang what to do?

"We are in a dire straits."

"Only reforms will save China,"

"but the Empress Dowager
does not agree."

"The reforms have angered her
and made my position vulnerable."

"If you and the others work together"

"to salvage our plans,"

"It would be most desired."

"So ordered."

His Majesty's two secret
decrees both include the phrase,

"My position is vulnerable."

Is the Emperor saying that

the Empress Dowager
has only become angrier

and plans
to make changes of her own?

We were just discussing this.

Looks like there's no choice

but for the Emperor
to strike first.

Strike first?


I shall tell the Emperor

- to send Yuan Shikai to Tianjin.
- Yuan Shikai?

Greetings, Your Majesty.

Greetings, Your Majesty.

- Stand up.
- Yes, Your Majesty.


you seem to have lost weight.

I'm doing just fine.

You shouldn't push yourself

and slow down.

Thank you, Your Majesty.

I've been busy because
of the government reforms.

So that's why
you haven't come to see me.

Is that right?

Your Majesty
is on my mind every day.


You haven't forgotten
your filial duties.

I have not.

So you do obey my words, then.

- I always have, Your Majesty.
- Very good.

Are you carrying your imperial seal?

I have it with me.

Give it to me.

Yes, Your Majesty.

- Call Yang Chongyi in.
- Understood.

Is it done?

It is, Your Majesty.

Please take a look.

Read it to me.

Yes, Your Majesty.

"Kang Youwei from the Ministry of Works
took part in a conspiracy"

"for his personal gain."

"He is to be dismissed"

"and transferred to
the Ministry of Justice."

Good. Carry it out.

- Li, here's the Imperial Seal.
- Understood.

Your Majesty...

do you intend to disobey me?

I would not dare.

Your Majesty can punish
whomever you want,

why use my...

You're the Emperor.

You must issue the edict.

Otherwise, I would be
overstepping my authority, right?


Li, when you are done
with the seal,

- hand the edict to Minister Yang.
- Understood.

Yang, get the relevant parties organized

and arrange for the arrest.

But be careful.

- Don't let word get out.
- Understood, Your Majesty.

- Return the seal to His Majesty.
- Understood.


now that
business is taken care of,

shall we enjoy some opera?

I feel a headache coming on.

I would like
to return to the palace.

Pardon me, Your Majesty.

- Back to the palace?
- Yes, Your Majesty.

If you feel unwell,

you should
get some rest here first.

I'll check on you in a bit,

Yes, Your Majesty.

Keep His Majesty company here.

Yes, Your Majesty.

The Empress Dowager
is departing!


The Emperor is unwell.

Stay here and take care of him.

You are to stay right here.
Is that clear?


What do we do, Your Majesty?

We must find a way to tell Kang

to escape.

Your Majesty.
Can I help you?

I would like to take a stroll.

The Empress Dowager has ordered
Your Majesty to stay here and rest

until Your Majesty's health is restored.


Your Majesty...

Your illness must be treated

without delay.

I know.


Your Majesty,

Sun De has brought over
some lotus roots.

Your Majesty,

The lake's caretaker
has just picked some fresh lotus roots.

Would Your Majesty care to try some?

I don't want any.

Please have some, Your Majesty.

I'll slice it.

Your Majesty,

lotus root
is good in hot weather.

The weather is indeed oddly hot.

Roll up the curtain.

Go keep an eye on him.

It is indeed cooler
with the curtain rolled up.

Please rest here, Your Majesty.

I hear Kunming Lake here
was replicated from West Lake.

Indeed, Your Majesty.

They do bear some resemblance,

though they're not totally the same.

- It must have cost a fortune.
- Yes, Your Majesty.

Which lake is bigger?

West Lake is much larger.

Then why didn't they dig a
space larger than West Lake?

I do not know, Your Majesty.

What opera is

the Empress Dowager watching?

Tan Xinpei's "Showdown
at Cuiping Mountain,"

Wang Guifen's "Wenzhao Pass"...

- What else?
- And...

- Out with it!
- Understood.

There's also Sun Juxian's...
"Third Mother Teaches Her Son."

Heh Heh...

Anything with action?

Yes, Yu Jusheng's "The Leopard,"
and Yang Xiaolou's "The Monkey King."

Your Majesty,
if you wish,

I can accompany Your
Majesty to watch the show later.

No need.
I shall rest here

- and chat with you instead.
- Understood.

Look, Your Majesty.
- What is it?

- Look what they have done.
- What is wrong?

I cannot believe they
served a lotus root like this.

- Oh?
- It's rotten.

Sun De.

Didn't you check check carefully?

- It's rotten!
- My sincere apologies!

Sun De, take a look.

The core of the lotus root is rotten.

Why are you standing there?
Get out of here!

Sun De.

What's wrong with you?!

How could you be so foolish?!

Lucky that His Majesty
has a good temper.

If it was the Empress Dowager,
your head would come right off!

- Understood.
- Be careful from now on.


Mr. Kang.

Eunuch Sun!

Please act
as soon as possible, Mr. Kang.

Please excuse me.

("Order Kang Youwei to
leave Peking immediately.")


Who are you looking for?!
Please wait!

I, Yuan Shikai.

Greet Your Majesty.


Thank you, Your Majesty.

No one knows
that you have come, right?

It must be important if Your
Majesty needed me this late at night.

I was very careful.

No one knows.

Very good.

You have always been
a strong and wise man.

I have a very important task.

Will you do it for me?

By any means necessary,
Your Majesty.


Read this.

Yes, Your Majesty.

Do you understand
what I'm asking for?

I do, Your Majesty.

Can you do it?

I can.

This is not issued to just anyone.

It comes with the authority to kill.

Take the first train
to Tianjin in the morning.

Kill Ronglu and you will
become the Viceroy of Zhili.

Come back to Peking
with 10,000 soldiers.

- I shall be here waiting.
- Yes, Your Majesty.

You have a huge responsibility.
You must exercise caution.

I will not fail, Your Majesty.


There is no time to waste.




Anything else, Your Majesty?


But you must know,

the fate of the Great
Qing is in your hands.

Yes, Your Majesty.

My life is in your hands as well.

Yes, Your Majesty.

Lead your soldiers to Summer Palace,

but don't disturb the Empress Dowager.

Yes, Your Majesty.

Greetings, Viceroy.

Sit, Commander Yuan.

I dare not.

Please sit first, Viceroy.

Come sit with me.

- Did you travel here from Peking?
- I did.

I arrived on
the morning train just now.

Has something happened
there in the past few days?

Something did, indeed.

That's why
I have come to see you.

What is it?

We should speak alone.

All of you.

Leave the room.

Please read this, Viceroy,

I, Ronglu,

accept the Imperial Decree.

I have been ordered to die.
Please execute as ordered.

Please stand, Viceroy.

I came here
to ask you for a solution.



what you are saying is...

This task is far too great

for me to bear.

Then we will have to go
to the Empress Dowager.

I agree.

But we must act immediately.

- Please go to Peking at once, Viceroy.
- I shall.

Your Majesty.

It's morning already.

Please get some rest.

I'll wait here

and call immediately
when there's news.

Your Majesty!
I bear bad news!

What is it?

Soldiers from Tianjin have replaced
the guards outside Imperial City.

I asked Yuan Shikai to bring them.

No, Your Majesty.
They are Viceroy Ronglu's soldiers.

What? What about Ronglu?

I hear that he arrived last night

and went straight to Summer Palace.

What about Yuan Shikai?

I do not know, Your Majesty.


- No!
- I shall inquire some more.

Your Majesty! The Empress
Dowager is returning to the palace.

They have passed Xizhimen.

Consort Jin, Consort Zhen,
the Empress Dowager is back.

They've arrived already
reached the northern gate.

Your Majesty,
The Empress Dowager has arrived,

it's time to greet them.


The Empress Dowager has arrived!

The Empress Dowager has arrived!

I was late to greet you.

Please forgive me, Your Majesty.

Such flattery!

Please stand up.

Thank you, Your Majesty.

Please sit at the throne,
Your Majesty.

You think I would dare
to be so insubordinate?

Li, get me a chair.

Get the Empress Dowager a chair.


- Li.
- Yes, Your Majesty.

You serve the Emperor as well.

You want your head to come off?

Your Majesty's reminder
is much appreciated.

I apologize, Your Majesty!

I wouldn't dare to sit in the
center when His Majesty is here.

- Move it over!
- Understood.

I don't know.

I wonder what brings Your Majesty
back so early in the morning.

I came to greet you

and beg for my life.

I wouldn't dare.

Really? Then who ordered
Yuan Shikai to kill me?

I did no such thing.

You're lying.

What is this then?

Tell me, why did you
ask Yuan to go to Tianjin?

- To kill Ronglu.
- Then what?

- To lead 10,000 soldiers to Peking.
- What for?

To eradicate the opposition.

- And who's that?
- Those who oppose the reforms.

Oh! So you're saying that
I'm part of this opposition!

Your Majesty, I...

You're really something.

I may not be your biological mother,

but when you were four years old,

I carried you into the palace
and appointed you Emperor.

I took so much effort to raise you

and handed you the throne.

I never said no

to the changes you wanted.

But this is how
you repay my generosity?

By killing me?

I never had such intention.

Then why order Yuan to
surround Summer Palace?

To protect Your Majesty.

- To protect me?!
- Correct.

Your Majesty is getting old,

it is best to enjoy your
twilight years in Summer Palace

instead of burdening yourself
with the country's affairs.

Such pretty words.

Lucky for me,
I was not meant to die.

The gods have blinded you and
made you trust the wrong man.

Did you really think
Yuan is loyal to you?

The truth is,

he sold you out
once he arrived in Tianjin!

What was that?

Are you upset that I made it back alive?

It seems so, Your Majesty.

Your Majesty, I have no
ill will towards you at all.

Everything I have done is for our nation

and to implement reforms.

How dare you say reform again!

As long as I am here,
there will be no reform!

As long as I am alive,

don't even think about
going against me!

- Li!
- Yes?

I hereby order the reformists
to be arrested and killed!

- Your Majesty!
- Wait!


Your Majesty, you can't do this!

Even you
are disobeying my orders, Li?



Your Majesty! If you kill them,
you are robbing China of its talents.

Destroying the reforms
means destroying the Great Qing!

I am the Great Qing!

You're in no position to speak!

I'm still the Emperor!

Emperor? Hahaha...

And who made you the Emperor?

If I can make you Emperor,

I can depose you, too!

Your Majesty!

Your Majesty!

Empress Dowager!

The Emperor is the head of the nation.

Your Majesty cannot simply depose him.

- Who's speaking to me?
- I apologize.

It's you?

Where do you think you are?

Who are you to speak up?

I apologize, but the Emperor
acted with good intentions.

Please pay no heed to
the words of outsiders

and misplace the blame
on His Majesty.

I heeded the words of outsiders?!

This started because the
Emperor heeded your words!

He was a faithful, loyal child.

Since you entered the palace,

he completely changed.

Don't think I don't know that

those bad ideas came
from you, devilish child.

What is wrong with the Empress?

Why has the Emperor neglected her?

Even your older sister,
Jin, is better than you.

How could
the Emperor not like her?

You must have
cast a spell on the Emperor.

You took advantage
of his affections

and caused great harm

left and right.

And now you have come for me!

Do you have a death wish?

Your Majesty,
I have done no such thing!

Even if I'm falsely accusing you,
what can you do?

Your Majesty,
if you must punish someone,

please punish me and only me...

she was begging mercy for you

and now you are begging for her.

You two disloyal devils conspired

to betray me!

Tell me
what your punishment should be!

Place them in custody!


Your Majesty, the Emperor
only wanted reforms

to save our country.

But all you have done is
unequivocally oppose him.

I don't know
what your motives are.

Perhaps the gods asked
Yuan to betray His Majesty

and maintain your rule

because China's destiny
is near its end.

But if you continue down this path,

The Great Qing will die
in Your Majesty's hands

and it will be too late

- to regret...
- Li!

- Put them in custody!
- Understood!

And separate them!

Keep them apart!

Your Majesty.

I have my orders.

1900, the 26th year of Guangxu's rule

What did you dig up on the Boxers?

Your Majesty, the Boxers
really do have magical powers.

I have seen it myself.

They are invincible against all weapons,
even guns and cannons.

Your Majesty must be blessed to
have soldiers descend from Heaven

and help us
eliminate the foreign powers.

Please issue the edict

to induct the Boxers as soldiers

so they can kill the Westerners

and show the world our strength.

Your Majesty, I, Yuan Chang,

believe that the Boxers
is merely an ignorant mob.

We cannot rely on them.

Your Majesty,

I, Xu Jingcheng,

believe the Boxers to
be heretical charlatans

who cannot be trusted.

So you don't approve?

Your Majesty, I cannot
approve in good conscience.

Your Majesty,

I will bet my life
on the Boxers' success.

Your Majesty,

our war against the Japanese
led to great financial loss

and a lack of military resources.

If we go to war with the Westerners,

I am afraid we will be outnumbered
and suffer another great loss.

- Your Majesty...
- That's nonsense!

Stop defending the Westerners.

I will kill all of them!

Your Majesty, massacring
the Westerners without reason

will put us in a serious crisis.

It cannot be done!
It cannot be done!

Your Majesty!

Why won't Your Majesty
say something?

Your Majesty.

The Boxers were once good,
ordinary folks.

They banded together
to avenge the oppression

committed by Westerners on China,

It started with good intentions,

but their leader is ignorant,

swindling people
with superstition.

I'm afraid they are not
capable enough to succeed.

Please exercise caution,
Your Majesty.

You're still ill,
so stay out of this.


Your Majesty,
you must act rationally!

Please don't let them run wild!

Please don't let them run wild!

Run wild?

How dare you.

Do you want to die?

Remove him!


Your Majesty... Your Majesty!

Think of our nation!
Our dear nation!

Your Majesty...

I have heard enough.

I have made my decision.

We will fight the Westerners!

- Prince Duan!
- Here!

I leave the Boxers to you.
Do what you must.



Oh, heavenly spirits!

Oh, departed spirits!

Ancestors, bring us the spirits
of Monk Xuanzang, Monk Pig,

Friar Sand,
Monkey King and Erlang.

Please ask Guan Yu to lead
the soldiers of Heaven to us.

I have come to you

with an edict
from the Jade Emperor.

I shall lead
the soldiers of Heaven

and eliminate the Westerners!

Consort Zhen,

it's me.

- It's you!
- That's right.

The Emperor will come later,

but don't let anyone know!

The night patrol will come soon,

- so please don't stay long.
- I understand.


Your Majesty!

I have missed you so!

Stand up.

You have suffered so
for the past two years.

Are you well, Zhen?

I am fine...

Your Majesty...

Sometimes I wonder,

what's the point of
being a puppet emperor?

I should just die
and get it over with.

No, Your Majesty,

please don't think that way.

The Empress Dowager
is already 66 years old.

If we wait patiently
for a few more years,

Your Majesty will

be able to stand on your own one day.

I'm afraid she won't release
me even after her death.


you must know
what is happening outside.

I hear the Boxers
are in a fierce fight.

Is that true?

We are in a real crisis.

The Eight Nations Alliance
has already reached Tianjin.


That means
Peking is within their reach.

An understatement. If we
lose Tianjin, Peking falls, too.

If the Alliance reach Peking,

what will the Empress Dowager do?

What can she do?

Her only option is to flee.

And what about Your Majesty?


You know I have no control
over my fate.

Your Majesty.

This is an opportunity.

Your Majesty cannot miss it.

Are you saying that I should stay?


Once the Empress Dowager leaves,

the country will be in Your
Majesty's hands again.

But what if the Westerners
mistakenly put the blame on me?

Your Majesty can just end your life.

Very well.

I won't leave.

I would rather die than to leave.

We would rather die than to leave!


you are such a good woman.

Your Majesty.

Your Majesty!

The night patrol is coming!

I got it.

Your Majesty will be locked out
when they lock the northern gate.

Your Majesty must go.

- Give me one moment.
- No, Your Majesty.

Please go...

We still have plenty of time.

In that case...
take care of yourself.

I must go.

Goodbye, Your Majesty.

Your Majesty...
It's time to leave!

Tianjin has fallen. General
Nie Shicheng has died.

Your Majesty, Viceroy Ronglu
was killed at the Battle of Yongcun.

Your Majesty,
Tongzhou has been captured.

Naval Minister Li Pingheng
has committed suicide.

The Eight Nations
Alliances is bombing Peking!

Many are retreating!

Thieving soldiers are running amok,
pillaging the city!

Our officials are on the run!

And the Empress Dowager?

Your Majesty.

Get up, children.

Thank you, Your Majesty.

I can't believe that I'm
running for my life again.

Your Majesty.

I exhausted all my efforts

to secure three mule cars.

Why only three?

There are too many people fleeing.

All the transport
livestocks are being used.

- How are things outside?
- Very chaotic.

The Boxers and defeated
soldiers are pillaging.

The foreign forces
will soon enter the city.

Your Majesty should
leave as soon as possible.

Very well.
All of you get on the cars first.

- But Your Majesty...
- And the Emperor isn't here yet.

I have to speak to him.

- All of you leave first.
- Understood.

- Greetings, Your Majesty.
- As you were.

Zhen, you...

Why aren't you changed?

I don't plan to.

How can you leave in that outfit?

I'm not leaving.

But the foreign soldiers are coming.

I'm not afraid...

Consort Zhen, the
Empress Dowager is waiting.

You really should leave.

I can't rest easy
knowing that you're here.

I'll be fine.

Take care of yourself.


Remember... don't clash with
the Empress Dowager again.

I know.

Consort Jin, the Empress is waiting.

- Your Majesty.
- Stand up.

Yes, Your Majesty.

I asked you to put on a Han outfit.

Why are you still
dressed like this?

I don't dare
to break the family's rules.

You do know what is
happening outside, don't you?

I knew that this day would come.

- If Your Majesty had listen to...
- That's in the past.

Forget about it.

I plan to leave here

and hide elsewhere temporarily.

Get changed and leave with me.

I will not leave.

Why not?

- Because the Emperor is staying.
- How do you know that?

Our country is in a crisis.

If the Emperor leaves,

who will clean up the mess?

So you are dead set on staying?

I am.

Don't regret this later on.

I absolutely will not.

Very well.

- Cui!
- Yes, Your Majesty.

Take her back to her quarters,

I'll ask her again later.

- Greetings, Your Majesty.
- Here you are.

Yes. Your Majesty, you...

Didn't think
I would end up like this?

We should leave
before we discuss things.

I can't leave.

I know the Westerners won't blame you.

That's why I will
return the throne to you.

But the city is in shambles.

I don't want to

- leave you alone here.
- Your Majesty...

I won't be in any danger.


just do as I say.

No one can do anything in
the government right now.

I have sent a telegram to Li Hongzhang.

When he arrives, you can come back

and lead the negotiation
with the Westerners.

How does that sound?

Your Majesty,
do you really mean that?

I was too stubborn before.

But I understand now.

That's good.


- What about Consort Zhen?
- She's the one you love.

I would take her, too, of course.


But she...

- I'm afraid she...
- She wasn't willing to leave at first,

but then I told her my plans.

She was happy to hear it.

Where is she?

Already in the mule car
with her sister.


Come help His Majesty

change his outfit and
get into the mule car.

You go ahead, I'll follow soon.

Your Majesty.

What you just said...

Is it true?

My child...

Why would I lie to you now?

If I'm lying to you,

you can order my grave be razed

when I die.

Don't say that, Your Majesty.

I'll leave right now.

You said just now
that the Emperor won't leave.

But he just heeded my words

and boarded the mule car.

The Emperor wouldn't
simply obey like that.

You don't believe me?

I do not.


I don't need you to believe me.

You can save yourself right now.

I have never put my own interests ahead.

You may think of your interests,

but I'm worried for you.

When the Westerners enter the palace...

You're the Emperor's concubine.

You're young

and pretty.

- If anything happens to you...
- Please don't worry.

If I'm a coward, I would
be leaving with you now.

With the Emperor here,

what is there to be afraid of?

Stop dreaming and think
that the Emperor is still here.

We don't want to die,

so we're leaving now.

Since you're not afraid of death,
you can die here.


Consort Zhen
wishes to die for her country.

Find her a clean place.

Your Majesty, there is a
well that I think is quite fitting.

Very well. Proceed.


Your Majesty.

I know full well that

letting me live this long

has already been a benevolent
act on Your Majesty's part.

Since Your Majesty
is ordering me to die,

I don't dare to disobey.


I beg you.

Please let me see the
Emperor one last time.


You want to cast your spell on
him and keep him from leaving?

Don't even think about it.

What are you waiting for, Cui?

Consort Zhen, please.


Your Majesty.

You won't let
the Emperor stay in Peking

because you want to
preserve your rule.

But why don't you think about

what you have done to our
country in the last two years?

The capital is surrounded.
The country is about to fall.

Your Majesty still hasn't
learned a lesson from this?

Please wake up, Your Majesty.

Have the country's interest in mind.

Stop being selfish.

The Emperor is a good man.

Stop misplacing
your resentment on him,

then I will die in peace.

I have no time for this nonsense!

Cui, take her away!

Consort Zhen.

Pardon me.

Don't touch me!

I will go myself.

Where's Zhen?

She's with the Empress Dowager.

- I was told that she's with you.
- She's not.

She said that she's staying.

Please protect His Majesty.

Please protect our Great Qing.



Zhen... Save her!

What are you useless
bunch doing?! Save her!

Your Majesty...

You are far too cruel!

Cut the nonsense
and get in the mule car!

I don't want to live...
- Your Majesty!

Let me go!

Let go!

Your Majesty!

Feeling better?

I'm fine.

Don't worry.

We are a long way from Peking already.

Nothing to worry about now.

What are you lot doing?

- We want to see the Emperor.
- Go away!

Don't do that.

Why do you want to see the Emperor?

We heard that
the Emperor has fled Peking.

He's probably hungry on the road,

so we prepared some food
for His Majesty.

But the country is in shambles.

- You don't blame the Emperor?
- Amitabha...

His Majesty is a good emperor.

We all know that.

We've made a huge pot
of porridge for the Emperor.

I made some eggs, too.

And some steamed buns.

The Emperor is up ahead.

I can pass the food for you.

That's good.

Thank you... Thank you...

Thank you.

Such good folks...

But I'm afraid I've lost them.

A ruler must win over
its people to rule.

The ruler who doesn't
will lose everything...