The Executioner (TV series)

The Executioner

The Executioner official poster
Also known as Spare From the Blade
Genre Historical period drama
Created by Hong Kong Television Broadcasts Limited
Written by Sin Chui-ching, Au Yuk-han, Tam Chui-san, Fung Yat-chun, Chan Siu-cheung, Ma Ching-man, Cheung Kai-wing
Directed by Wong Wai-yan, Cheung Wing-fai, Ng Ciu-wing, Cheng Wing-kay, Lam Wai-ching, Au Yuk-han, Tam Chui-san, Fung Yat-chun, Chan Siu-cheung, Ma Ching-man, Cheung Kai-wing
Starring Kenny Wong
Maggie Shiu
Mat Yeung
Katy Kung
Elaine Yiu
Joel Chan
Bowie Wu
Hugo Ng
Stanley Cheung
Theme music composer Alan Cheung
Opening theme A Better Tomorrow (相信明天) by Hubert Wu
Country of origin Hong Kong
Original language(s) Cantonese
No. of episodes 26
Executive producer(s) Catherine Tsang
Producer(s) Law Chun-ngok
Location(s) Hong Kong
Editor(s) Sin Chui-ching
Camera setup Multi camera
Running time 45 minutes
Production company(s) TVB
Original network Jade
HD Jade
Picture format 1080i (HDTV)
Original release 7 December 2015 (2015-12-07) – 10 January 2016 (2016-01-10)
External links
The Executioner
Traditional Chinese 刀下留人
Simplified Chinese 刀下留人
Literal meaning "Spare From The Blade"

The Executioner (Chinese: 刀下留人; Jyutping: Dou1 Haa5 Lau4 Jan4; Cantonese Yale: Dōu Háh Làuh Yàhn; literally "Spare From The Blade") is a 2015 till 2016 Hong Kong historical fiction television drama produced by TVB. It is set during the Chenghua Emperor's reign in Ming Dynasty, China, and centers on a political conspiracy.

Filming took place from January to April 2015 on location entirely in Hong Kong.[1] It premiered on 7 December 2015, on Hong Kong's broadcast network TVB Jade and Malaysia's cable television channel, Astro On Demand. It ran for 26 episodes, with the last episode airing on 10 January 2016.[2] The Executioner received positive reviews during its broadcast.


The drama is a fictional telling of the events that occurred during Ming dynasty's Chenghua Emperor reign. In actuality, the Chenghua Emperor had taken his nanny who was a mother figure to him as a consort. Consort Wan as she became known was twice the age of the Emperor, he was eighteen and she was thirty-five at the time she became his consort, but she became his favorite consort and gave birth to a son who died soon after. However Consort Wan was also an unscrupulous person who along with high ranking eunuchs would sell government titles to anyone willing to pay a high price. In terms those who bought these titles illegally would abuse their titles by raising taxes to unreasonable amounts in their county's or deal in illegal activities without getting punishment. The Emperor who did not want to offend Consort Wan would turn a blind eye on these issues.[3] Unable to bear the Emperor a child, fearing others will be favored by the Emperor and also to continue her hold on the Emperor, Consort Wan would command her servants and eunuchs to force abortion on any consorts that became pregnant with the Emperor's child. If any consort did get the chance to carry the Emperor's child to birth both mother and child would be murdered soon after. After finding out a concubine named Ji is pregnant, Empress Wu protects her and the unborn child by entrusting them in the care of the gate keeper, but Consort Wan's finds out and seeks to murder the gate keeper, Concubine Ji and her child. The child survives and is reunited with Emperor Chenghua at age five. The child later grows up to be the future Hongzhi Emperor.[4][5]


One takes away life; the other welcomes life. Midwife Fa Yui-hung and executioner Yip Sheung-luk come together when they must protect a new life who is wanted dead by the Imperial government.

During Ming dynasty's Chenghua Emperor reign, Fa Yui-hung is the most renowned midwife in the capital. Her services are highly sought after by the rich and poor. She is a compassionate person that won't do harm to others even if she is paid a high price. One night a mysterious man Yip Sheung-luk shows up at her door step calming to be the savior of her father-in-law who is away on a journey. As her father-in-law's savior, Sheung-luk clams he was welcomed to stay at the Bak household. After finding items in her home missing Yui-hung trails Sheung-luk around town, only to find that he is hiding a heavily pregnant women who he is tasked to protect. Yui-hung agrees to help the pregnant women, but Sheung-luk refuse to tell her the identity or background of the pregnant women.

After saving the life of the local warden from an escaped fugitive, Sheung-luk is offered the position as the towns executioner. As he sees it as a profession everyone in town sees him as a murderer including Yui-hung who mocks him whenever she gets a chance. No one wants to be associated with him and in order to receive company he goes to the local brothel just to pay for any courtesan willing to keep him company while he has dinner.

Walking through the woods one night Sheung-luk and Yui-hung finds a ditch with a pregnant women left for dead. After the women dies Yui-hung immediately instruct Sheung-luk to save the baby inside the dead women. After the baby boy is born Yui-hung wants to bring the baby to the authorities but Sheung-luk knows the dead women was not a regular person by looking at her accessories and clothing, in order to protect him and his saviors daughter-in-law he advises Yui-hung not to go to the authorities yet. The new born baby boy soon gets them both in trouble when they become the most wanted criminals in the kingdom. The two go through many dangers to keep themselves alive and protect the baby boy with a mysterious connection to the Chenghua Emperor.[6]


Bak family/household

Imperial prison department

Yin Hung Garden brothel

Imperial Court

Extended cast


Viewership ratings

Timeslot (HKT) # Week Episode(s) Average points Peaking points
Mon – Fri
(8:30-9:30 pm)
07 – 11 Dec 2015
1 – 5
14 – 18 Dec 2015
6 – 10
21 – 25 Dec 2015
11 – 15
28 Dec 2015 – 01 Jan 2016
16 – 20
04 – 08 Jan 2016
21 – 25
Sun 10 Jan 2016
21 – 26
Total average

International broadcast

Network Country Airing Date Timeslot
Astro On Demand MalaysiaDecember 7, 2015Monday – Friday 8:30 – 9:15 pm
TVBJ AustraliaDecember 8, 2015 Monday – Friday 7:15 – 8:15 pm
Starhub TV SingaporeMarch 31, 2016Monday – Friday 8:00 – 9:00 pm

Awards & Nominations

Year Ceremony Category Nominee Result
2016 StarHub TVB Awards[8] My Favourite TVB Drama The Executioner Nominated
My Favourite TVB Actress Maggie Shiu Nominated
My Favourite TVB Actor Kenny Wong Nominated
My Favourite TVB Female TV Character Maggie Shiu Nominated
My Favourite TVB Male TV Character Kenny Wong Nominated


  1. "德斌Maggie演繹血淋淋的浪漫". Retrieved 2016-01-01.
  2. "刀下留人". Retrieved 2016-01-01.
  3. Irving A. Hultengren. "Ming tombs - Zhu Jianshen - Chenghua". Retrieved 2016-01-01.
  4. "Reign of Chenghua Emperor: The Eighth Emperor of the Ming Dynasty". World History Project.
  5. "Wan, Consort of Emperor Xianzong of the Ming Dynasty". Retrieved 2016-01-01.
  6. "Synopsis of TVB's "The Executioner"".
  7. "hyn5 @ 幸而城 Fortunate City: 《刀下留人》 "Spare from the Blade" Costume Fitting". Retrieved 2016-01-01.
  8. StarHub TVB Awards 2016 Nominations. Retrieved September 10, 2016

External links

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