Phuong Khau (The Emperor’s Gift), an original drama series on royal life during the Nguyen Dynasty, is making a deep impression on audiences, especially young people.
Vietnamese-American actress Hong Dao in drama series Phuong Khau, which is streaming on the POPs app. Photo courtesy of the producer
The series has three seasons, which is directed by Huynh Tuan Anh and written by Nguyen Thuy Hang and Do Ngoc Tri.
The first season, consisting of eight episodes, is streaming on the POPs app at 8pm every Thursday.
The show is set in the Hue Imperial Palace in the years of Emperor Thieu Tri’s rule from 1841 to 1847.
It focuses on Pham Hieu Nguyet, a royal concubine of Thieu Tri. She overcomes the power struggle in the royal household and helps her son, Prince Nguyen Phuc Hong Nham, to become Emperor Tu Duc.
Emperor Tu Duc enjoyed the longest reign of any monarch of the Nguyen Dynasty, ruling from 1848 (after his father Emperor Thieu Tri’s death) to 1883.
Hieu Nguyet became Queen Mother Tu Du, the most powerful woman in the 60 years of the Nguyen Dynasty.
Young director Anh invited veteran actors to play leading roles in the film.
Meritorious Artist Thanh Loc plays Emperor Thieu Tri, while Vietnamese-American actress Hong Dao portrays Queen Mother Tu Du.
People’s Artist Hong Van and Meritorious Artists Tuyet Thu, Ngoc Hiep and Le Thien are also featured.
Young actor Vo Minh Khai plays the role of Prince Hong Nham.
Director Anh said at the press conference in Ho Chi Minh City early this month: “The appearance of veteran actors like Thanh Loc, Hong Dao brings depth to the film.”
He also sought help from professors of history Nguyen Khac Thuan and Le Van Lan, artisan Vu Kim Loc, and Ton That Minh Khoi who is the leader of Thien Nam Lich Dai Hau Phi, a research project on royal life during the Nguyen Dynasty.
He said: “Phuong Khau not only features power struggles in royal life, but also conveys historical and cultural values of the country.”
“Through the film, audiences can know more about the rituals, rules and costumes under the Nguyen Dynasty,” he added.
The film has been praised by the media and the public, receiving thousands of positive comments on its Facebook page and YouTube channel.
YouTube viewer Tuan Tran commented: “Phuong Khau helps me and other Vietnamese understand more about the country’s history. It will be an inspiration to young people to learn more about history and bring audiences back to Vietnamese film.”
Director Anh said: “We spent 500 days and a big sum for the film.”
The film’s producer, The Ocean Company, invested more than VND16 billion (US$687,500).
Nearly 500 costumes costing VND5.2 billion ($223,000) were used for the film.
Anh also used computer-generated imagery (CGI) to reimagine the scenery inside Hue Imperial Palace and Citadel.
Most of the scenes were filmed at famous destinations in Hue and studios in Ho Chi Minh City and Long An Province.
The film’s soundtrack was written by young composer Mai Thanh Duy, Minh Ha, Trang Nguyen and Hua Kim Tuyen.
Songs were sung by pop stars like Ho Quynh Hương and Van Mai Huong.
“Although the film has some mistakes in CGI and dubbing, it is a good Vietnamese film with an excellent cast, interesting plot and beautiful soundtrack,” said Nguyen Van Hung, a 35-year-old man living in Dong Nai Province.