CN Dramas

Nirvana in Fire: An epic journey (plus all the feels)

I started writing this post the next day after I finished Nirvana in Fire aka Lang Ya Bang (瑯琊榜), the epic 54 episode Chinese drama starring Hu Ge, Liu Tao, Wang Kai plus many other fine actors (and actors/directors!) This is technically not a review, it’s more like – some thoughts on the reasons why it is now my favourite drama ever. It took me by surprise as well. I’ve never rated a drama 10/10 and thought 54 episodes is not enough. But there it is.

 

I’ve tried to remain as spoiler-free as possible. I will mention events that I assume people will expect but not go into details. I will also talk about the ending in a clearly marked section.

Some context

If you have read some of my previous posts, you will probably know I’m not a fan of historical dramas, and particularly allergic to Chinese ones. They have a reputation of being long, draggy with stupid endings. To be honest, apart from these reasons, I have the impression that a lot of Chinese historicals these days are just idol dramas in disguise. The posters are photoshopped like crazy until you cannot recognise the actors. The writers use language from modern times. The CGI is useless. There is a lot of money being thrown around but the result is disappointing. (I’m looking at you – Detectives and Doctors)

 

Funny that I decided to watch Nirvana in Fire because another recent well received Chinese drama – Love me, if you dare was frustrating me to no end. I needed a break from silly romances. (I will say LMIYD would be 500% better without it, but let’s leave that discussion for another day.) Nirvana in Fire received such glowing reviews I thought I’d just try it out.

 

After 3 episodes I understood why it is rated as highly as it is.

 

I absolutely love NIF because of the story, the characters and the most important of all, the themes of loyalty, righteousness, determination, brotherhood, justice….

Two of my favourite (heartbreaking) scenes from the drama

The Story

I won’t go through the synopsis (because there are plenty around the web) but one of the words being thrown around is revenge, ala The Count of Monte Cristo style. I have never read or watched The Count of Monte Cristo before but I personally think using revenge to describe this drama is an injustice. For me, ‘revenge’ carries a negative connotation, an element of selfishness. However, NIF was so much more, which I will talk about later.

 

As a 54 episode drama, NIF never felt draggy. Yes I acknowledge it is a bit of a talk-fest at times, and some people might not like that. Also, there are scome episodes where the storytelling is slower than others. However, the web it weaves is so intricate and complex I finally got my head around all the relationships (I think) when I studied the relationships charts. (Bilingual version / English version / Chinese version) If the episodes are slow, it’s because it needs to build up to a climax later and it is always worth the wait. The most important ‘turning points’ at around episode 20, the mid 30s, the mid 40s (and of course, the ending episodes) are some of the most intense drama-viewing experiences I have ever had. I personally just love dramas where at the end of it, I feel like I went on a journey from zero to some sort of self-actualisation. One I can reflect back on with joy and tears, and one that I’m willing to relive again and again. You know a drama is good when at the end of it, you want to start at episode 1 again.

 

The Characters  

Of course we have to love (and hate) the characters to fully ‘buy into’ the story. From the heroes Mei Chang Su / Prince Jing / Ni Huang / Fei Liu / General Meng (plus many others) to the villains the Emperor / Xia Jiang / Xie Yu / Prince Yu etc etc, I felt something for these major characters, even the villains. As this is such a complicated (and long) journey, I am allowed to understand each person’s motivations, their background and dare I say, felt sympathy for them even when they were doing such evil deeds. (I’m looking at you, Prince Yu.) The acting is top notch – Hu Ge’s Mei Chang Su is such a difficult character to portray because he is always so calm (with his frail body). A lesser actor will probably look blank and expressionless but Hu Ge showed so much restraint and yet, everytime there is a close up of Mei Chang Su, I can feel his pain and burden. Wang Kai is gaining so much popularity now because his Prince Jing was annoyingly hot headed, impulsive, and yet towards the end he showed his gentleness and maturity around his best friend. One of the only major female characters – Ni Huang (Liu Tao), who unfortunately had such little screentime and disappeared for much of the drama, always caused me heartbreak. Her devotion and determination is so admirable.

 

There are so many other characters I loved, whether it’s the clueless yet loyal General Meng, the cute puppy that is Fei Liu, the grace and intelligence of Consort Jing, not to mention the noble nature and forgiveness shown by Jing Rui, the playful yet courageous Yu Jin… if I were to talk about them individually this post will be way too long. But all of these characters add to the richness of the story, good or bad, they made the NIF journey a spectacular ride.

I’m just in love with this whole set of posters, the poetry is so poignant and fitting to the story.

 

The Themes

But what made NIF a 10/10 for me was its ability to make me think about the themes of loyalty and courage. This drama has been described as ‘a drama with a conscience’ for a reason. To be honest, when I turn on the news nowadays, I see the ugliness and immorality (whether it’s terrorism in Western countries or from China – just think poison milk powder, fake soy sauce, ‘recycled’ tissues) – the greed and disregard of human life shown by some people is despicable. It very much parallels the world at the beginning of NIF, where the Crown Prince and Prince Yu were too busy fighting against each other to care about the people. Even worse, it was the Emperor who allowed it because he did not want another person as powerful as him. He turned a blind eye to both princes’ corruption and greed as long as it fits his own ambitions. He was so consumed by it he executed his own son and refused to admit he was wrong. There is so much darkness and this story provides hope as we watched Mei Chang Su and Prince Jing try to achieve the same goal.

 

Speaking of Prince Jing, in hindsight, he is probably my favourite character. Yes, that is a very tough call because he annoyed me for the majority of the drama. (Let’s put a disclaimer here.) It helps a lot he is portrayed by the handsome bass cannon (he can read a phonebook to me and I’ll still swoon) that is Wang Kai, but it was Jing Yan’s unwavering determination, righteousness and loyalty which ultimately won me over. Until probably the mid 40s (episodes), the water buffalo (lol) Jing Yan rubbed me in such a wrong way I thought – How can this man ever be an Emperor? He is so stubborn and impulsive! During the Wei Zheng incident, his ridiculous insistence on the rescue made me want to throw bricks at him. I’ve been polluted by reality enough that I believe as a politician, you will have to make sacrifices to achieve a higher goal. Obviously Jing Yan doesn’t feel the same way.

 

But let me ask a question (if you are over 25) – Who was your best friend when you were 17? Are you still friends with him/her?

 

Me? We don’t even speak to each other anymore. As many people have said, as you grow older, the lesser friends you have. But yet for Jing Yan, he remained so so loyal to Lin Shu (and of course his older brother) he doesn’t care about clashing with his father and he doesn’t care about money or power. Even if everyone believed the Chi Yan army / Prince Qi were guilty, Jing Yan never deviated from his beliefs. That is what I most admire about him despite his hot headed personality. Not to mention his very late realisation that Mei Chang Su is really, Lin Shu just made Jing Yan look silly. I guess the female intuition (whether it’s Ni Huang or Consort Jing) can be so correct yet unexplainable. But in the end he is able to grow and mature, to think before he acts, to plan before he throws himself headfirst into a brick wall (so to speak). It feels satisfying to know the future is in good hands.

I know I haven’t talked about the most important character that is Mei Chang Su / Lin Shu! If Jing Yan carries the burden of being a leader that Prince Qi will want to see him as, Lin Shu carries the burden of the reputation of the 70,000 Chi Yan soldiers. I said in the beginning how I don’t really want to use ‘revenge’ to sum up this drama because although he spent 13 years planning and scheming (and even had to use his closest friends), he did it for other people. He sacrificed his all for the memory of the Chi Yan army. 赤子之心 (loosely translated – with the purest of heart) is the phrase I’ve seen which describes it perfectly. Lin Shu and Jing Yan had the same goal, but Lin Shu was (a lot) more pragmatic about it. I guess he had gone to hell and back which changes your perspective (to put it lightly). Plus, he is willing to do the dirty work for Jing Yan.

These themes of friendship and loyalty extends to other characters, whether it’s General Meng/Lin Shu, the guys from Jingzhuo Alliance/Lin Shu, Fei Liu/Lin Shu. Lin Chen/Lin Shu and the one which also touched me the most, Jing Rui/Yu Jin + Lin Shu/Jing Yan! If there’s a ‘one true x’ from this drama it’s probably OT6 or 7 or something. Although I think Lin Shu/Jing Yan is the OTP of all LOL. But seriously, the friendship between Jing Rui and Yu Jin is strong as it is (in my head, if Yu Jin was a girl, she was supposed to marry Jing Rui LOL), but they also share a respect and admiration for Su Zhe. All these feels hit me when I saw this.

This flashback was unfortunately not in the drama. There was a scene in the novel where Mei Chang Su and General Meng were reminiscing. Xiao Shu was punished by his father for breaking something of the former Emperor’s. So instead of going to the hunting ground, he had to look after a couple of kids. “At the time, I would rather fight bears alone than look after some noisy boys. Jing Rui was pretty quiet, but that Yu Jin! He kept running around…”  So Xiao Shu tied him to a tree! When he was discovered, Prince Jing took the blame…

 

It’s even more heartbreaking when the official NIF weibo reposted it and wrote – Until the very end, Jing Rui and Yu Jin didn’t know, the Brother Su they respected yet was unpredictable, is the Lin Shu gege from the past who was even crazier and more mischievous than them.

 

Gosh, I wish there were more flashbacks of the young Lin Shu!  

 

THE ENDING [SPOILERSSSSSSS]

What a perfect ending it was. I hate to keep repeating about how much I love this drama but the ending was so bittersweet yet fitting to the story. I don’t know about you but since the beginning, I’ve always expected Mei Chang Su will die after he achieved his goal. I thought it would be him leaving the Capital and back in Jianghu, he will die quietly in his sleep or something. I didn’t expect him to be back on the battlefield, dying in the way he would’ve lived as Lin Shu, surrounded by his friends who share the same righteousness, loyalty and determination. To be honest, when they started to talk about the unrest around the Kingdom I thought, what the heck? There isn’t enough time for this!? Admittedly that part felt a little rushed but I loved the ending – it made complete sense. Xiao Shu’s promise to Ni Huang (my heart broke a million times), the conversation on the rooftop between Lin Shu and Jing Yan (actually, I loved ALL of their scenes after Jing Yan finally found out Mei Chang Su = Lin Shu), when Ni Huang received the letter, when Jing Yan took away the cloth covering Lin Shu’s plague with the pearl in front of it, when Jing Yan named the new army ‘Chang Lin’ – I cannot rewatch this otherwise I will cry like a baby. I know I’m a little biased on this but combined with Wang Kai’s subtheme, I cannot put into words how deep NIF is engraved in my heart.

 [END OF SPOILERSSSSSSS]

 

 

How am I going to deal with this emptiness!!?

I’m currently refraining myself from starting from episode 1 again (although I keep rewatching all the Lin Shu/Jing Yan scenes from ep 50 onwards) because I ordered the original novel! Please arrive before the new year but with the holidays I don’t think they will be. 🙁 I haven’t read a Chinese novel in years but I’m also hoping to drag my bf to the NIF madness. 😛 He doesn’t watch Chinese dramas (and the Cantonese dubbing just won’t be the same!) so maybe the novel will be more accessible. But I do want to find out how to pronounce some of the things in Cantonese, like even the title, Lang Ya – I have no idea how to say it? I asked my mum and she doesn’t know either!

 

I guess the other logical next step is to watch The Disguiser with a lot of the same cast. I saw the first episode but it feels so weird seeing them in a different story, not to mention the storyline is just… nope. I’ll try to finish Love me, if you dare, simply for Wang Kai. 😛 Heck I might even watch a rom-com, although A Touch of Green is released already so that is on my radar.

 

I’m also thinking about translating a part from the original script which didn’t end up in the drama. Where Jing Yan had his ‘lightbulb’ moment  (finally) and a follow up scene about the hazelnut cake. It’s pretty long though, so it will be slow.

 

But I don’t know how I can watch other dramas from now on. They will feel so mediocre.

 

And finally… sorry I couldn’t help myself!

 

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44 Comments

  • Reply
    rowanmdm
    December 24, 2015 at 5:19 pm

    I also loved this drama so much. They did such a good job of developing new challenges and foes to fight, and the relationships were amazing. I had to wait for the subs to finish, so each time I got to watch an episode it was like a gift. This was a show that had me wVing my hands and exclaiming things in public. I can strongly reccommend this show to anyone.

    • Reply
      kat
      December 25, 2015 at 12:39 pm

      Yesss the story has so many layers and eventually, it all ties together and never felt boring!

  • Reply
    Lin
    December 24, 2015 at 9:54 pm

    Super loving this drama with lots of eye candy.
    The characters superb acting
    Thanks for posting ☺️

    • Reply
      kat
      December 25, 2015 at 12:39 pm

      Thanks for dropping by and leaving a comment! 🙂

  • Reply
    YS
    December 24, 2015 at 11:38 pm

    Oh, please do translate! I knowi’m asking too much but, if you possibly can, can you please translate all the Mei Changsu/Lin Shu and Jing Yan bits please???? I love them to pieces but cannot read Chinese (so sad)…

    • Reply
      kat
      December 25, 2015 at 1:20 pm

      I’ve started on that scene already! :))) I think there’re already projects to translate the novel already? Will see what happens after I’ve read the novel tho..

  • Reply
    Joyce风风火火地
    December 25, 2015 at 8:50 pm

    Hi Kat,
    Great review! NiF certainly has this effect on most people 😀
    I highly suggest you try watching The Disguiser again it’s probably the only thing I could watch after NiF and not feel disappointed with the drama quality.

    • Reply
      kat
      December 26, 2015 at 11:14 pm

      Hey Joyce, thanks for the comment! Yeah I will get to it…eventually!!! 😀 😀 How can I not watch it since they all look so hot in it LOL.

  • Reply
    eleanor (aka dewaanifordrama)
    December 29, 2015 at 3:13 am

    *sigh* I loved this. Oh how I love this drama so much. It really was able to intellectually and emotionally fulfill all my expectations and more. What a lovely, lovely, wonderful and amazing drama! ❤❤❤ Thank you for your lovely review!

    • Reply
      kat
      December 29, 2015 at 4:15 pm

      YESSSSS This drama really did fulfill all of our expectations – whether it’s a great story, all the bromances and of course, all the hot guys. 😉 Thanks for dropping by!!!

  • Reply
    peacwon
    January 3, 2016 at 12:49 pm

    Dearest Kat,
    Why did no one warn me not to go back to episode one? I have watched this drama more than once, lets’ just leave it at that. I felt totally in tune when you said it is hard to watch other dramas because this one raised the bar SO high… DARN IT!!! Loved your blog. I think you may also have a new fan. 🙂

    • Reply
      kat
      January 4, 2016 at 12:37 am

      Hey peacwon, thanks for the comment! Well I know I don’t want to properly sit down and rewatch from ep 1 but I’ve been picking scenes to rewatch. >_< Not sure if that is any better!!!

      • Reply
        peacwon
        January 6, 2016 at 3:38 am

        It is not any better. I have tried return of iljimae, yuan yuan sky something, pardon my mistranslated, sword epic drama reference. I have tried moon embracing the sun, and at least five others. I can do one or two episodes and BOOM no more. I cannot even go to the new Kdramas episodes of Six Flying Dragons and settle down. But I am over saturated on the NIF as well. I do not know what’s going to happen next. HAHAhahahahahahaha.

        • Reply
          kat
          January 6, 2016 at 10:35 pm

          HAHAHAHA What about The Disguiser? Did you watch that one? I started the novel and will watch Disguiser to heal my NIF wounds loool.

          • peacwon
            February 10, 2016 at 7:18 am

            That is so out of my comfort zone as a genre but I watched it anyhow and just fell in love totally with Jin Dong. So I have two sweeties now!! Wang Kai and Jin Dong!!! ok three counting wallace mister eyelashes himself 🙂

          • kat
            February 11, 2016 at 10:32 pm

            HAHAHAHA~ Yeah I watched a few eps so far but still can’t really get into it. >_< Can't disagree that the Ming Family are all very hot in it though!

  • Reply
    Q
    January 23, 2016 at 8:37 am

    Thank you for doing such a nice blog. Glad to hear you enjoyed NIF. NIF does capture some of the brightest spots of Chinese culture and paid a great deal of attention to details. In addition to great acting and very good and entertaining story, the cinematography, art and music direction are all very good and artistic. Other than the TV series itself, I find the NIF author with pseudonym Hai Yan is quite impressive, given that she’s a young-ish lady from Sichuan who only worked on this novel on the side. I agree with you that NIF makes one feel hopeful. This is an aspect that I highly appreciate, since I was unlucky enough to have run into a few nasty individuals from Sichuan in real life, including a super-nasty former boss, Mr Zhou. I wish I had a Mei Changshu to help me avert numerous sneak attacks from this Mr Zhou of Sichuan. 😛

    It’s weird, however, that NIF has much fewer followers than a lot of other TV/drama series on sites like Viki. Inexplicable.

    After NIF, the only TV series I have enjoyed watching so far has been Wuxin the monster killer (WX). WX has talented young newbies as leads plus beautiful music and cinematography on top of a touching story. WX’s storyline is also much less formulaic compared to other Mainland and Taiwanese drama series. But WX has a supernatural storyline, which might not appeal to some. I was surprised at how both WX and Qin’s moon (QM) are both produced by TangRen but I find QM a lot less enjoyable. So far I’m only able to watch some random parts of QM.

    Have a great 2016!

    • Reply
      kat
      January 26, 2016 at 10:31 pm

      Thanks Q for the comment! Happy new year to you too! Yes Hai Yan definitely has a talent for writing, just looking at the plot itself it’s a marvel and now reading the novel, the language used was also fitting with the overall atmosphere of the story. I can’t believe she’s not a full time writer! (Although to be honest, I didn’t like Love me, if you dare at all…)

      Yeah…I guess most popular dramas on Viki are ‘idol’ dramas. I was initially turned off by the number of episodes as well, but gosh it was so worth it! We just have to keep promoting it!!!!

      WX sounds like a solid drama too, although I’m one of those who are turned off by the supernatural theme lol.

      • Reply
        q
        January 27, 2016 at 4:34 pm

        Well, Love me if you dare (LMIYD)’s original author is Ding Mo. Hai Yan only repackaged it into screenplay. Actually, I thought the series started off ok. The case-by-case crime part was ok. Wallace Huo is fine as the lead. He and Sandra Ma have interesting enough and snappy dialogues. The overarching plot with the final 2 main villains is weird and doesn’t make much sense. The last few episodes are bad. I don’t know why they suddenly drag in Terrence Yin as the main villain. Both TY and the character he plays look weak to me. Sandra Ma’s character (and acting) also gets more bland and has little character development as the series progressed. Also, some of their Western actors speak weirdly accented English. A bit distracting. Thankfully they get little screen time.

        Viki viewers seem to really love Wallace Huo, Peter Ho, Jerry Yan, Ron Ng. Most of their series seem to have a large following. I’m not sure what they see in PH and JY. 😛

        • Reply
          kat
          January 27, 2016 at 9:55 pm

          Yeah since I haven’t read the original LMIYD, I don’t really know where it went wrong, whether I wouldn’t have liked the source anyway or something wrong with the adaptation. I agree with you!! The start was ok, but the pacing of the cases was too slow anyway, and whilst Wallace and Sandra were good enough I suppose (although I can never hear what she’s saying cos she speaks in such a low volume o_O) I didn’t really feel their chemistry at all. Oh gosh the Western actors… shocking. As for the villains, Xie Han was way more interesting than the final boss, but then I stopped caring towards the end anyway. I just finished it for the sake of finishing lol.

          I had a crush on Peter at one stage so I understand. 😛 Although he always seems to play the same type of (cringe worthy) characters. lol.

          • q
            January 30, 2016 at 10:25 am

            At least it’s a nice change that Jian Yao is not “I am a damsel in distress who needs saved by a perfect guy”, some whiny girl with a high-pitched voice who like to ask men for favors. At least not starting from Ep. 1. Yes, WH’s lines seem super-mushy & out of character sometimes. I wasn’t watching the screen all the time, so I just overlooked that sort of thing.

            I only saw PH in 3 kingdoms and Summer’s Bubbles. SB really ruined it for me I guess. The ep 1 he produced was so messy and they tried to fix it with numerous awkward voice-overs. idk if he ran into SARFT/censorship issues or that’s just his vision of what is good. I’ve been allergic of him since. 😛 For some reason I just can’t make myself tolerate watching him on the screen anymore. What got you hooked on PH for a while?

            About PH’s BFF, Dylan Kuo; I agree he’s not that great w acting. It sounds like he spends a lot of energy on maintaining his physique. Hear a lot about his diet, exercises, etc. Occupational hazard of a model. (I try to avoid watching him outside of drama series as much as possible after that.) It looks like maybe he will do fine if he has a good director, but maybe can’t do a great job without one. It’s surprising how his acting can be ok in one series and rather poor in several other series. Thanks to you, I won’t bother checking out any of his earlier series. 🙂

          • kat
            February 7, 2016 at 10:04 pm

            I believe it was the TW drama ‘Ring Ring Bell’ which made me fell for PH – storyline was pretty crappy but his character and also his chemistry with Janine Chang was what I loved about it. I love this on screen couple.

            If you like the ‘Young and Dangerous’ movies from the 90s, Dylan’s ‘The Outsiders’ was actually a solid drama with a good story. (started off rather idol drama-y but it became pretty confronting later on….) It’s really old though (2004?!?!). The acting however… as the lead Dylan was pretty raw but he was surrounded by great co-stars: Ady An, 張勛傑, Blue Lan, Joelle Lu who all did a great job.

  • Reply
    Xixi
    February 4, 2016 at 6:33 pm

    Hello! I just found your blog today and I have to say I love it! It’s been 2 months since I finished watching NIF and I still can’t get over it. I was quite lucky to have watched the drama right before my trip to China so I managed to buy a copy of the novel there (and I immediately rewatched the whole of NIF after I got back lol) 😀 I’m actually reading the first online edition of the novel right now but I’m probably going to take forever to finish it since my Chinese is terrible ><
    One thing I regret was not watching The Disguiser before NIF. Everyone said The Disguiser was amazing (since it aired before NIF), but after watching NIF, every other drama (period dramas or not) paled in comparison 🙁

    That said, The Disguiser was still worth watching, and I noticed that there were some similarities between the plots of both dramas! I absoluuutely adore Ming Tai (my friend insists that he's too childish and immature – can't really disagree with that lol) and basically all three brothers and their big sis! If only these actors could all come together again in future dramas *cries*

    Anywho, do you have any other recommendations for Chinese novels? I'm in need of something new that can blow me away like NIF did T.T

    • Reply
      kat
      February 7, 2016 at 10:17 pm

      Thanks for your comment Xixi!!!! 😀 I totally understand how you feel, I’m still in NIF mode and slowly reading the novel. Yep, not really feeling The Disguiser at the moment… but am sticking it out for the Ming family of course! Gosh, they’re all beautiful people. I have to agree with your friend though hahaha, I like the LouCheng storyline a lot more. (But then, I’m only up to episode 5!!!)

      There’s ‘Ode to Joy’ to be relased with Jin Dong, Liu Tao and Wang Kai… although I’m not sure how much crossover the JD/LT storyline will have with WK’s storyline. >_<

      To be honest, NIF was the first Chinese novel I picked up in many many many years!!! I used to like the Wisely Lee sci-fi stuff but I kinda lost interest over the years. (Still want to see a good drama adaptation of it though!) After NIF, I am planning to read 如果蜗牛有爱情 / When a snail loves since KaiKai is going to be the lead in the drama adaptation HAHAHA. 😉 I don't have great hopes of it though since I didn't like Love me, if you dare – altho I only watched the drama. (Lots of people love it though…)

    • Reply
      DY
      June 18, 2016 at 6:52 am

      maybe you can try to read the novel 盗墓笔记

  • Reply
    q2
    March 10, 2016 at 5:41 am

    Thank you, kat, for your replies above. You’re always so nice in trying to be helpful!! We have some things in common and not-in-common when it comes to our watching tastes. Makes me smile to read you gushing over Bolin Chen on your other blog post. (I’m ok with him. But not a big fan like you. To me, the biggest draw of the Lala movie is Ariel Lin. The 2 men were distant runner-ups. I prefer Vic Z in his older series, like Wishing to see you again.) I probably won’t watch The Outsiders. I tend to dislike TW action-oriented series. I didn’t like Black&White despite the strong positive response. Plus I seem to like Ady An less over the years. Not disliking her yet, but I used to like her more 5 yrs ago.

    I can see why you are not too crazy about LMIYD. Wlc Huo’s character did seem to have a character transplant from a cold criminal psychologist to a love-crazy idol guy. The switch was a bit drastic. Hope you’ll enjoy reading Ding Mo’s “snail novel”.

    • Reply
      kat
      March 13, 2016 at 1:17 pm

      Feel like I haven’t seen Ady An (in a drama) for a loooong time! Re Snail novel – I don’t have high expectations because of LMIYD so maybe it’ll turn out to be enjoyable LOL.

      • Reply
        q3
        March 14, 2016 at 9:58 pm

        Your mention of Ady An leaves me wondering mildly. It seems like there are more opportunities for younger Mainland actors the last couple of years? Han Dongjun, Jing Boran, etc. Perhaps less opportunities for the more experienced TW and HK actors, except for a handful like Wlc Huo & Chung, Joe Chen, Janine Chang, Hawick Lau, etc. Plus a few veteran names like Michelle Yim, Alex Fong, etc. I actually enjoy seeing some of the younger Mainland actors. Zhou Dongyu (haven’t seen her on a TV series though), Jiao Junyan, Jiang Shuying, Chen Xiao, Huang Jingyu, etc. I have gotten saturated with Liu Shishi, Joe Chen, Tang Yan in idol roles, so I rather like seeing new talented actors. Especially if the story line is less formulaic. But I do hope Qiao Zhenyu, Zheng Shuang, Angelababy, etc. appear in series I have no interest in watching. As I’m not sure I can ever acquire the skills to get used to watching these actors in a series.

        Perhaps this is related to why Nicholas Tse has been working on reality shows more than series and films?

        You have zero interest in reading the novel that’s adapted into the upcoming series, Ode to Joy? Wang Kai will also be in that series. (Prince Jing is not my favorite character type. To me, he’s like Guo Jing of LOCH. I do like the steadfastness. But I prefer another type.)

        • Reply
          kat
          March 24, 2016 at 12:10 am

          ‘Fresh meat’ is the trend these days, sometimes I just feel old cos I don’t really find that type attractive. (A few exceptions, I suppose, like Wu Lei, but I would say that’s more cute than attractive) Since I don’t really follow C-Entertainment very closely, I only know Zhou Dongyu & Chen Xiao from your younger actors list!!! :OOOO I am watching Dongyu on ‘We’re in love’ now and she’s pretty cute tho. 🙂 btw – yeah I can’t take Angelababy seriously most of the time. ooops.

          Come to think of it I never got around to watch the 2nd series of Chef Nic. I saw bits of it and didn’t like the addition of the new cast. :S

          Might wait to see if I like the drama first before reading the novel. As much as I loved NIF I’m having trouble reading the book, concentration span is so low these days. >_< Which series are you watching / looking forward to?

          • q4
            March 25, 2016 at 3:46 pm

            Hi Kat, Hmm. That’s a tough question. I’m allergic to willful, egocentric, naggy, shrewy, not-too-competent, pathetic, or bratty female characters. That knocks out a lot of series. (1) Hu Ge’s 2 upcoming series may be good. BTW, Jiang Shuying (Maggie) is in one of them. (The 2 dated briefly.) I hope they won’t try to do corporate scheming etc type of plot in “Hunting Ground” aka “Resume”. When they tried it in Unbeatable (Hu Ge version), it came out badly. It made me wonder how many business books one needs to read up, in order to incorporate a competent corporate politics plot into drama series. We are not CEOs and cannot interview bigwigs. So I figure it has to be books. BTW, it cracked me up when some people called Facebook “Fei Si Bu Ke” when Facebook’s CEO visited BJ.

            (2) I might give Ode to Joy a try.
            (3) idk if “The Translator” will be any good. I’m half allergic to Yang Mi. Like a few others, I’m not a big fan of Huang Xuan’s looks either though he seems to show decent acting chops in his recent work. Synopsis mentions a … genius translator(?). I’m not sure how well that can work as a premise.

            Young actress Sun Yi looks pretty good in trailer. She’s currently in “15 Yrs Waiting for Migratory Birds”. I’m not sure I’ll watch it. I hear the original novel ending is a sad one. I wasn’t too impressed by the male lead in his 2 previous idol roles.

            If you still like Ady An, she will be in Yu Mama’s upcoming “Demon Girl” series with many rookies.

            For the reasons I mentioned previously, I ended up watching a LGBT-themed series, “Addiction” aka “Shang Yin”. Huang Jingyu was the second lead. I started watching it bc I came across the news that Addiction was banned. I was curious what got it banned. Despite some weaker subplots and a few weak actresses I’ve never seen before, I mostly see a seemingly genuine, head-over-heels, adolescent love story. I didn’t recognize any of the actors from any series / films. The leads got some amount of international attention…. I caught glimpses of videos of their French tour etc. And Yu Mama immediately nabbed Huang and added Huang to his Demon Girl series. BTW. I didn’t like the Danson-Tang- vampire-series as much as you did. Whenever they did flash backs to the (European period) costumes part, it looked ….hmm…. Plus, I’m allergic to Terence Yin. Is he ever good in anything? Maybe he’s best as a sidekick kungfu character?
            Some people like the (web?) series “Wind Chime”.
            A lot of people give good feedback for Angelababy’s Yun Ge. But I still cringed when I saw bits of her emotional scenes. Best reserved for Baby fans.

          • kat
            April 3, 2016 at 1:17 am

            Ah yes I remember reading the news about Hu Ge was promoting his new drama – awww it’s sad his relationship with Maggie ended before the drama aired. They seemed like a good pair. With so many c-dramas (and many of them just bad) it’s hard to choose what to watch. I’m going to have to rely on word of mouth.

            LOL-ed at the Facebook thing!!! That happens a lot tho. Like the other day I saw an advertisement for “馬克杯” and I was like… wth is that?! Then I realised it’s just a mug. What!! Adding the cup at the end was just redundant lol.

            I get what you mean with Danson’s vampire series, I don’t really understand why I liked it either LOL, it’s an anomaly. Terence Yin just looks comical in everything!!! Like he tries to look serious but I see his face and just want to laugh. So I thought his character there was rather suitable.

          • q
            April 23, 2016 at 4:32 am

            Sun Yi looks like another decent young actress. Ode to Joy with Wang Kai has started broadcast a few days ago.

            I enjoy watching the younger generation of actors too. I hope they get good roles.

      • Reply
        q
        April 8, 2016 at 4:14 am

        Oh. Tribes and Empires with Huang Xuan has a number of decent actors in it. It looks like a big or medium budget production. A pity I’m not a big fan of Xu Lu. She’s ok. But I made a mistake of watching the first half of “1.5 summer”. I couldn’t summon enough interest for her, Nickhun (sp?) and Jiang Jinfu to finish watching the series.

        “15 yrs.. migratory bird” is ok if you just need to kill time. Zhang Ruoyun is ok in it. I end up watching school-type drama (Addicted, 15 Years.., Tornado aka Whirlwind Girl, etc.) the past year partly bc I’m more forgiving when the actors are so young. They are still like kids. It’s hard to dislike them. lol.

        Hu Ge’s new school drama with Jiang Shuying looks a bit less interesting to me than the previous few school drama I saw. I haven’t seen much of it. They have a female school teacher/administrator character, looking very fake with her weird glasses. Whenever she appears on screen, she looks like she has her “school costume” (or is it supposed to be “I am smart costume”) on. It’s distracting. It may not be that bad overall. I just can’t summon enough energy and time to watch it.

        I think there are actually a good number of decent Mainland drama out there, but the ones that get a lot of viewers are the very idol-oriented ones, mostly with the same 80 actors or so. They also dumb down the plot, afraid the audience will not get some concepts. Hence the popular series ended up having overly simplistic plots and characters. Waif with a heart of gold, wooed by 3-4 perfect male suitors. They vary it by putting the girl (Liu Shishi) in Ming dynasty (Imperial Doctress), Qing Dynasty (bbjx), Han Dynasty (the other Tong Hua adaptations), etc. Young adolescent fantasy. I find it very repetitive. It’s like “Everybody loves Ruby Lin” in Qin Shi Huang Fei. Zhao Liying in Hua Qian Gu, Zheng Shuang, A-baby… Often, the men are prince, Emperor, aristocrat, etc. who will devote most of their time to select and make the lead girl’s hairpins, earrings etc. I guess there is very little love in Asia? You can re-make these things 80 times and people watch them all… This is why I got over-saturated with LSS, Joe Chen, Tang Yan, Ruby Lin. It has been that way since F4, Meteor Garden I guess? This has driven me to watch kids now. lol…

        Shanghai SMG … Entertainment Company…, Director Kong Sheng, etc. seem to produce a number of decent series. I haven’t checked them out yet. “2 Families from Wenzhou” may be good. But the plot may be about financial crisis…

        BTW, what is the Chinese title for 周冬雨’s “We are in Love”?

        • Reply
          kat
          April 11, 2016 at 12:22 am

          I think I’m the opposite when it comes to young actors! I saw the first ep fo Hu Ge’s new drama and thought the adult storyline is probably watchable but I’ll get bored at all the kids lovelines. Plus it’s too comic book for my liking. I dunno… maybe I just don’t identify with these school dramas o_O

          I’m glad you mentioned the common link between the recent popular dramas, and I guess that’s what stopping me from watching the ones you mentioned above (No, haven’t seen BBJX before either!). It just irks me that a lot of ‘historical’ dramas these days are so ‘idol’. I will just go watch modern dramas if I want idol dramas.

          We’re in love is 我们相爱吧 in Chinese. 🙂

          • q2
            April 13, 2016 at 5:12 am

            Based on the little bit that I saw, the young actors they used in Go Goal Fighting (the latest Hu Ge series) seem less engaging than the ones in other school series. Some of it may be the director’s influence. A couple of the young actors looked better in other series (like Sebrina Chen Yao). Gina Jin Chen’s acting looks reasonable in multiple series. . But I don’t think she is in GGF. Han Dongjun’s acting is ok too, but I don’t think you’ll find his series watchable. 15 Yrs .. Mig Bird’s plot is less like F4. Lead girl is always attracted to just 1 guy. But the villain girl is a bit 1-dimensional with garish makeup.

            I’m not sure I could watch GGF either.

            Mainland actors work super hectic schedule. Their first-choice actors are often busy engaged in other series. That partly explains why sometimes it’s not easy to find a superb cast for a series. They make series that will sell well. The audience members keep watching the same type of things, so you see them making a lot of the same few plots over and over.

            Thanks for the Chinese name! I may have watched a movie with that title. I don’t pay much attention to movie names.

          • kat
            April 18, 2016 at 8:59 pm

            Ahh yes I liked Gina Jin from that Fox Hill series. I only watched her storyline but she was likeable.

            I don’t mind if there’s only 1 or 2 well known actors with lesser known supporting, as long as they can act. It’s always fun to discover new people to watch.

            Did you mean 我们结婚吧? I haven’t watched it before tho.

  • Reply
    Sky Fall
    April 6, 2016 at 6:56 am

    54 episodes 3 days (probably not that much sleep either). Have never touched a CDrama in my life and here I’ve gone and gotten so completely sucked in and bowled over by an absolute life ruiner. I know that from this point on there is no other drama to watch that would compare which is really depressing because this wuxia thing is totally new to me.

    I wish I understood Mandarin or could read Chinese because the novel isn’t translated? At all. Probably no plans for an english version either. Which makes me so sadface. Especially since I know in the translation there is so much lost.

    The genius and plotting and just all the characters. You feel for them and you fall in love with them and you want to smack them silly over the head. The goodies and the baddies and even just the random haidmaiden.

    And holy christ the sets and clothing are absolutely beautiful. I mean I havent really seen any others but is the clothing always so detailed? That level of embroidery detail jesus. It was absolutely beautiful.
    I did laugh at how there’s always just the one market though. That entrance to the kingdom, it just seems very small.

    Im at the point where since Ive just finished the series my life is dull and empty and I no longer have purpose am seeking out as much other content as I can.

    The level of detail in all the plots and subplots and how it just all fits together is beautiful to behold. And it is so goddamn satisfying when villains get their just desserts and heros get their rewards. NiF is definitely an epic MASTERPIECE. Shall go hunt for translated bits I think.

    • Reply
      kat
      April 10, 2016 at 11:58 pm

      Hey I totally understand you!!!! The folks at Wang Kai International are starting to translate the novel and there might be an offical English translation (depending on whether they can find a publisher – per @beckminster on Twitter).

      CDramas tend to have the resources to spend on beautiful sets and costumes but NIF is really a rare one with its attention to detail and the intense plot. I guess a lot of ppl watch The Diguiser as well (with a lot of the same cast), although I’ve been stuck on ep 14 for weeks now!!!

  • Reply
    Amethyst Ferrer
    May 5, 2016 at 11:32 pm

    Soooo LOVEEE Nirvana in Fire that the whole family came to Love it too!! Watched it several times already and everytime we did we cry buckets of tears.. Love the Casts coz everyone is so PERFECT to their role. Until now we feel an EMPTINESS that only a new historical drama with the same casts can fill in..Its a good thing we found The Disguiser to be some sort of an antidote…More of HU Ge, WANG Kai and others.. Please…

    • Reply
      kat
      May 20, 2016 at 12:28 am

      I haven’t been able to get ‘into’ The Disguiser but you’re right NIF does leave a big hole in the heart… 🙁

  • Reply
    Curio Serand
    May 6, 2016 at 11:21 am

    This is a really beautiful and satisfying treatment of NIF. Thank you.

    I don’t remember why or how I clicked on it some few weeks ago — I had developed an aversion to CDrama because so many of the ones I saw are just outlandishly overdone that I could not get into them. Then I started hearing chatter about NIF but I still did not bite while it was sweeping the airwaves and interwebs like a storm; I was too sorely scathed by my previous attempts to get into CDrama.

    And then, one day, for no reason, I turned on “Love Me if You Dare”. It was weird, a little arch, but not outlandish. I was curious, I kept watching, I fell head over heels for Wallace Huo. And so when I finished that I turned to “Hua Quin Gu” and discovered that I could like wuxia drama – I could watch a fantasy about chaste obsessions with aeronautic swords(!) and sincerely love it! I realized that it wasn’t the special effects and irrelevance of basic principles of physics that turned me off from CDrama; they are but mechanical elements which, when integrated into a well made, well told story, take m=nothing away from it. I realized that the problem wit the CDramas that turned me off was their vapidness – the fact that so many of them got caught up in creating spectacles that they forgot all about the story, i.e., the very thing that makes us want to know more about this world we are being shown and makes us want to tarry there a while.

    I did not intend to go on for so long, and now I realize, as I write, that perhaps the reason I’ve been saying these things is because, in retrospect, it seems as if I needed some priming – a sort of on ramp into CDrama before NIF and LMIYD and HQG provided that. I did not even think about NIF until I finished HQG, loved it, started replaying it on a loop, got the DVD and found myself idly browsing through Viki with no particular goal and ended up clicking on NIF.

    The opening credits were intriguing – the sweeping orchestral music suggesting a classic film event, an idea backed by the bloody opening minute recalling the fall of the Chi Yan army. But it was that first bright icy blue scene of Mei Chang Shu waking up from that nightmare, followed by the dove descending upon the most beautiful mountain landscape I had ever seen in my entire life that had me. I run the risk of indulging in a minute-by-minute account of how once I fell in love with those misty mountains I only fell deeper, but something tells me I don’t need to in this place.

    A friend of mine foudn the perfect world to characterize “Nirvana in Fire” : SUBLIME.

    • Reply
      kat
      May 20, 2016 at 12:37 am

      It’s interesting that it was LMIYD which also ‘brought’ me to NIF, although in a less pleasant way lol. I know what you mean by the general reputation of cdramas since that was why I didn’t watch it in the first place as well. But boy am I glad I did… it was such an unforgettable journey. 🙂

  • Reply
    Jeannie
    July 28, 2016 at 12:47 pm

    I put off watching the last two episodes for as long as I could, and now that I’ve finished it, I have to agree that it was a bittersweet, yet the best ending possibly imagined. I don’t feel an ounce of regret or discontent.
    Nirvana in Fire is the first Chinese drama I ever watched, and one of the few dramas (I think the second) that I finished. I don’t watch many, but I recently got into dramas to learn Mandarin. I think this drama has officially ruined me in being able to watch any other, though 🙂 Never before have I ever been so utterly into a production, whether it be movie, animation, etc. I haven’t cried as hard as I did watching the last two episodes in a long time either.
    All I can say is that I’m so glad to have stumbled upon it and watch past the first few episodes (which, while I was hooked, I wasn’t quite invested in the show yet and wasn’t sure whether I wanted to watch something so long). I know the general plot of the Count of Monte Cristo from watching an anime, and I read part of the book (it was so long and the names/language really confused me from reading farther). I love stories like The Count of Monte Cristo, and Nirvana in Fire is really similar in the intricate plot and genius mastermind that is Mei Changsu who predicts so well the nature of people and devises strategies accordingly. However, NiF is so much more deep in that, as you said, it isn’t a story of revenge (as the Count of Monte Cristo is). It’s a story of justice and loyalty, kindness and sincerity…
    I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to watch a drama that will hold my attention as much as NiF did. If there are any suggestions for dramas to watch (Chinese/Taiwanese/Hong Kong please) I would be very grateful. 🙂 They don’t necessarily have to be similar to NiF in plot, character, setting, etc. but any that can make me feel as uplifted I did watching it I will eagerly check out.

    • Reply
      kat
      July 31, 2016 at 10:29 pm

      Ah yes I understand what you mean that NIF leaves you with a void, it’s hard to find something else to fill it afterwards. After NIF I haven’t really watched that many dramas at all, and The Diguiser is a popular option (because of the same cast). It’s not as good, however, if you don’t take it too seriously it’s nice to look at the eye candy.

      Another drama I loved this year tho is Long Day’s Journey into Light. It’s in Taiwanese/Hakka though, and definitely has a more mature/sentimental/inspiring feel. I’m not sure if In Time with you is considering as uplifting – it used to be my favourite drama before NIF came along LOL. More of a romance with lots of feels though. I don’t think many people would recommend it but the TW drama A Good Wife is also good – IF (big if) you’re in the mood for serious angst, borderline depressing and the scary part is that – it’s depressing because it feels real. Another mature drama.

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