Warning! This Contains Spoilers!
TVB medical drama The Last Healer in Forbidden City <末代御醫>, which takes place during the final years of the Qing Dynasty, is slated for a network release on March 28. The drama stars Roger Kwok (郭晉安) as To Chung, a traditional Chinese medical specialist, who later becomes a ranked imperial physician. While employed at the Forbidden City, To Chung experiences political turmoil and strife, witnessing the tragic ends of a once-powerful dynasty.
After China’s humiliating defeat against the Japanese in the War of Jiawu, the Guangxu Emperor (Ngo Ka-nin 敖嘉年) calls for cultural and educational reform for his empire. He initiates the Hundred Days’ Reform, but his attempts at reforming China gets thoroughly crushed by Empress Dowager Cixi (Law Lan 羅蘭). Cixi then places him under house arrest while she continues as regent of the Qing Empire. Meanwhile, revolutionist Fuk Ling (Tavia Yeung 楊怡), also a trained bonesetter, enters the palace with a mission to assassinate Guangxu. In the end, Guangxu dies under mysterious circumstances. Cixi passes away two days later.
Tavia Yeung Wanted to Work with Roger Kwok
Although Tavia and Roger were once under the same manager, they did not come across an opportunity to collaborate until The Last Healer in Forbidden City. “Actually, I was the one who told producer [Nelson Cheung 張乾文] that I wanted to collaborate with Roger,” said Tavia. “We’ve always been close and I consider him my older brother. I’m so happy that we finally got the chance to do it.”
TVB producer and senior manager Steven Tsui (徐正康) praised Roger and Tavia’s chemistry in the series. He added that although Roger’s character is meant to be very mellow, he managed to grasp the emotional complexities of his character very well, adding more interesting depth to the role. Tavia’s character Fuk Ling, on the other hand, is quite talkative, much like the actress herself.
“I do have many similarities with her,” acknowledge Tavia. “But I did have some struggles with the role. As I have many massaging scenes, I had to get a specialist to teach me how to massage the pressure points.”
On working with Roger, Tavia said, “I don’t even know why we laugh, but whenever we’re together, we can’t stop laughing. We laugh at the smallest, most trivial things. There was this one dream sequence where I helped Roger massage his shoulders, but it took a while to complete the scene because we couldn’t stop laughing!”
Roger said, “We used to have the same manager so we attended many events together. We interact like brother and sister. Somehow, just seeing her makes me laugh.” As for JJ Jia (賈曉晨), who plays Roger’s wife in the series, the actor said, “She’s crippled, so I’m always coming up with ways to heal her leg. My relationship with her is different than with Tavia. In my eyes, JJ Jia is a beauty. I have to make her smile. Tavia’s only happy if I make fun her.”
Ngo Ka-nin and Rebecca Zhu’s Tragic Ending
Rebecca Zhu (朱晨麗) portrays Consort Tsan, Guangxu’s first and only love. However, unable to win the favor of Cixi, Consort Tsan eventually gets banished to the cold palace. When Cixi arranges Guangxu to marry her niece, the heartbroken Consort Tsan commits suicide by jumping to her death in a well.
Rebecca, whose mother tongue is Mandarin, shot the entire series in Cantonese. Steven Tsui praised Rebecca’s immense improvement, which showed through her intense dedication to her role. To prepare for the show, Rebecca binged watched many historical television dramas and films, and read many articles concerning Qing court etiquette. The series, which is her first historical period drama, actually proved to be quite a challenge for the 2011 Miss Hong Kong winner—Rebecca said she’s never had to cry so much for a role before. She reveals that the show starts with Consort Tsan’s painful miscarriage, to her falling out of favor with Cixi, to committing suicide.
Jazz Lam and Rainki Wai’s Unfortunate Reality
Jazz Lam (林子善), who portrays the imperial guard Kot Gan, lightens the show’s heavy mood with his awkward gait and inchoate martial background throughout the series. Yet, Kot Gan’s kind heart and comedic nature does not spare him from an unfortunate reality.
Raised in the Forbidden City his entire life, Kot Gan gets assigned to be the bodyguard of Der Ling (Rainky Wai 蔚雨芯), one of Cixi’s most trusted advisers. Though Kot Gan is in love with the princess, they are marred with cultural and communication differences, and their relationship never takes a step further.
Creds: Oriental Daily