大紅袍

明嘉靖年間皇帝沉迷仙道、女色,不任政事,朝政盡委臣宦。嚴嵩以醮祀青詞見悅於君,得位首輔專寵擅權。嚴嵩招權納賄、苛捐重稅,致使民生日困。嚴嵩之子嚴世蕃亦是憑勢脅求、肆意淫樂,父子倆所作所為令士大夫為之側目,然嚴嵩之女後宮得寵,使得眾人只可緘口吞聲。

都察院御史海瑞為人耿介,不屈於時勢,修表十章奏劾嚴嵩。縱嘉靖帝曾下詔奏嚴嵩者斬,海瑞仍無畏冒死上朝十奏嚴嵩。帝因前詔復以嚴妃美色私愛,對海瑞上奏為之龍顏震怒,將其罷官收押並欲將之處斬。

於時嚴世蕃延誤軍機、私通倭寇之事被呈報,海瑞得免。帝遂派人查抄嚴府,並追論嚴嵩瀆職弄權之罪。罪證確鑿嚴世蕃被處斬刑,帝念嚴嵩為官數十載赦免一死。抄家沒產後的嚴嵩只得潦倒街頭。



The Red Robe

The Jiajing emperor of the Ming dynasty is infatuated with women, seeks elixir, and neglects state affairs.Yan Song wins the flighty emperor’s favor merely by presenting an exemplary Taoist prayer, and is presently appointed grand secretary. Favored and trusted, Yan abuses his power by aggravating the prevalent misery over corruption and usurious taxation. Yan’s son Shifan, not to be forgotten, is a hedonistic ruffian. The literati and the officials in the imperial court are generally silent because Yan’s daughter is in favor amongst the harem.

Imperial censor Hai Rui, a morally upright man who refuses to conform, writes ten letters to the Emperor calling for the impeachment of Yan Song. He does so at the risk of his own life, defying the emperor's decree that demands the execution of anyone who dares question him. Enraged by Hai’s blatant disobedience, and acceding to Yan’s daughter, the emperor has Hai arrested pending execution.

Fortunately, Hai is saved by the report that Yan Shifan has collaborated with Japanese invaders on strategic military initiatives. The emperor orders the audit and seizure of Yan’s household, confiscates his properties, and issues a thorough investigation into his misconducts while in office. Yan Shifan is found guilty and beheaded. Although spared on the grounds of his long-term service, Yan Song is forced to live as a mere commoner, leading a miserable, homeless life.