[Review] Nirvana in Fire with Hu Ge, Liu Tao and Wang Kai

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Finally, I decided to watch Nirvana in Fire! It has some of the most beautiful setting I have seen in any drama, so gorgeous.

  • Number of episodes: 54
  • Chinese name: 琅琊榜
  • Watch the episodes with Eng Sub on Viki or on Youtube
  • Read recap on Dr Myri and My Drama Tea
  • Find the full list of character on Wikipedia

Cast

  • Hu Ge as Mei Changsu
  • Wang Kai as Prince Jing
  • Liu Tao as Nihuang
  • Chen Long as General Meng
  • Liu Mingtao as Consort Jing
  • Wu Lei as Fei Liu

Synopsis

Lang Ya Bang is a mysterious board with a working knowledge for everything in the world. As the Crown Prince and Prince Yu are scheming against each other, they hear from Lang Ya Bang about Mei Changsu, an advisor of great power.

Review

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9/10 Such a powerful drama, and so beautifully executed. I want to give a big SHOUT OUT to the cinematographer, he/she did a splendid job! So much details are put in this drama and from the first episode, I could feel the beauty of Lang Ya world (does anyone remember how the boxes were put in the cupboard?).  Most of the time, I closed all lights in my room and enjoyed watching this drama from the comfort of my bed, as if I were in a cinema :).

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I have to confess, watching this drama was hard for me, especially since I didn’t understand every expression from their jargon. At many times, I used the recaps by Dr Myri to remember a character or understand a scheme… It is interesting to see how much work has been done on the script which I believe sets Nirvana in fire apart from other period dramas. However, it can also be tedious and long to watch, since it requires great amount of concentration. Watching this drama after work during summer season wasn’t the best choice, lol. I recommend watching a few episodes everyday and not do a marathon.

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Now, let’s talk a little about the story: Mei Changsu is simply too smart, the Emperor too stupid, and no matter how everyone else is scheming… it is impossible to destroying this dream combo. As a consequence, every plot orchestrated by The Crown Prince or Prince Yu is bound for failure. Oups, not only failure, but also their own downfall and Prince Jing’s rise. When the drama approached its end, I was more excited to see the Emperor losing than watch Mei Changsu finally succeed. Each time his crown prince, ministers, and people appear in front of him with outrageous charges, he simply put them in jail and get closer to Consort Jing and Princess Jing. This shows the greatest of Mei Changsu. He is able to plot the most perfect traps for his opponents without any trace to track him or Jing Wang. Xie Yu, Banruo, and Xiajiang are all extremely smart and intuitive characters; they know from the start Mei Changsu is their opponent, yet none of them manage to expose his schemes in front of the Emperor. I grew attached to Banruo and Xiajing, (both great characters!) and it was a little sad to see them fail so miserably. In the end, no one will remember them, no one will revenge them, and no one will be sad for them. On the other hand, Mei Changsu is such an amazing character! His only struggle in the drama is his sickness.. because nothing else is much danger to this brainiac. Once you realize how much he struggled and how much he is still struggling, you will feel attach to the character and start rooting for him.

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Mei Changsu (portrayed by Hu Ge) is great but his story is just as fascinating. Lin Shu is a man who lost it all (his family, his reputation, his health, his life) and who manage to revive through the character of Mei Changsu. He must fulfill his life purpose and find justice for the dead no matter the costs. He can’t live a life of happiness. This may not be apparent at the beginning of the drama, but it becomes the omnipresent reality in the last five episodes. Who is Mei Changsu? Who is he and what does he represent? When the Chiyan Army case get resolved, what will happen to this person? The drama gives a very satisfying answer: his purpose will be fulfilled and will cease to exist. At the same time, Lin Shu will die… yes, he belongs to the Chiyan Army and his life should have ended at that moment. Beautiful, isn’t it? The last five episodes are among the most previous of the drama, as the relationships with Jing Wang, Nihuang, and Lin Chen all become more crude and honest.

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I first thought Jing Wang (portrayed by Wang Kai) is simple and straightforward character. Almost annoying with his lack of long term vision and misbelief in Mei Changsu. He always has the same cold facial expression. And when he made that huge scene in front of the Emperor, begging him to release the General Gang… I wanted to flip a table. But it’s okay, that idiotic moment in Jing Wang’s life was his turning point. From that moment, he realized how important Mei Changsu is for him, started taking wiser decisions, stood up against the Emperor, learn how to scheme. As the story progress, he starts to remember the past and doubt the identity of Mei Changsu, not really believing it. Jing Wang is like a broken toy, still thinking about the past and unable to move forward. I loved the scene where he stood for his ground in front of Prince Yu, when he defied the Emperor to save Mei Changsu, cried in the arms of Consort Jing, looking for some comfort and love, and all his moments with Mei Changsu afterwards. Now I understand why Wang Kai has so many fans, why there are so many fanfic about him and MCS!

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Nihuang (portrayed by Liu Tao) appears a lot less compare to the previous two characters, but I want to talk about her. Because she is such an important character! Nihuang is the one who believes Lin Shu since always, when he is hurt, she is hurt. She knows him the best and he can’t hide his true self in front of her. Mei Changsu loves her but is afraid of “breaking” her if he comes any closer. Nihuang understand his pain yet can’t do anything for him. The story can develop more on their relationship (so much love and passion unsaid!) but… it is probably not necessary.

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I don’t want to develop too much on the remaining character, but everyone was beautifully casted. Among the supporting roles, Xiajiang is the most memorable: so much angst, ill-placed arrogance… a very powerful character. Xia Dong is another character I particularly adore… even if it is only for when she meets her husband. Such a beautiful fainted smile! Lin Chen and Mei Changsu’s friendship is precious, LC mocks everyone to soothe the atmosphere. General Meng is a big chid and Fei Liu… is a simply boy, both are funny in their innocence. All in all, these are my favourite characters.

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Would I watch this drama again? Definitely! It has a lot of nuances and when I reached the last episode, I realized I didn’t fully understand the story. It would be interesting to rewatch and examine it from another perspective. However, this is unlikely to happen in the near future.

Finally, note to self: the actor of Xiao Jingrui is really handsome!

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23 thoughts on “[Review] Nirvana in Fire with Hu Ge, Liu Tao and Wang Kai

  1. Welcome to the Nirvana club XD
    Brilliant drama! Everything about it was just awesome!
    NiF will remain my favourite drama for a long time!

    I had to ignore all the hype when it was showing, not to be distracted
    TBH, I have been rewatching it, several times with different episodes at random and I know I will continue to rewatch in future

    I am thankful for this drama for 1. Wang Kai 2. Wu Lei 3. Jin Dong 4. Liu Tao

    Because of Nirvana I discovered so many exceptional actors where I look forward to them in other dramas!

    Liked by 1 person

    • intellectualkitten says:

      Yep 😀 Nirvana land, here I come ^^
      I really loved the drama, even though The Disguise gets a bigger slice of my heart 😛 NiF introduced me to Wang Kai and Wu Lei… both amazing actors I now cherish.
      I will definitely rewatch in the future 😀 Nirvana in Fire is such a beautiful universe

      Like

  2. maoh says:

    One of my all time favorites. I also think the cinematography was beautiful. It blew me away. The angles, transitions, in and out focus, and attention to detail was top class. It felt like I was watching a really long movie, not just a TV drama.

    Liked by 1 person

    • intellectualkitten says:

      Yes, the crew filmed the outdoor scenes AND the indoor scenes as if it is art… so gorgeous ><
      Sometimes, it is hard to watch an artistic movie because it requires me a lot of concentration. This was not something I felt in NiF 😛

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I do love this drama. Definitely one of my top 2 and im still wondering, what’s my first haha..

    A highly recommended one. Even with political issue in it, i still would love to rerun it many times. I love every thing about this drama especially the bromance!!! Wish it could be a happy ending but we expected this ending tho.

    Cant wait for the season 2. Hopefully it’ll as good as before.

    Like

    • intellectualkitten says:

      Haha xD Which ones are the contestants for the first?
      Hu Ge was once acted about the love line in NiF and he answered “What love line? I am surrounded by guys… In reality, I am a girl ;P”. Wang Kai and Hu Ge’s bromance made me even more addicted to this drama during the second half… so I totally understand what you mean.

      The second will star Wang Kai! *crossing fingers*

      Like

  4. lilhanh says:

    I love this show with a vengeance and have it on repeat at this point. Prior, I was more in love with the Disguiser but rewatching this show, I realized that in the long run, it’s more addictive. The story is about love, but not based solely on romance; it is love for the country, family, friends, brotherhood. Every episode pulls you in more and more.

    I have to give a shout out to the actor who plays the king. Everyone, esp. Hu Ge and Wang Kai deserves recognition, but without the antagonist, what’s a good show? The king, the queen, the prince, xia jiang, banruo…they kept it real and I love it!! You can understand where they are coming from…not just a typical bad villain.

    But that really goes to say about the show. EVERY character is worth loving and watching. The audience isn’t stupid, nor the characters, and THAT in my opinion, is why this show is outstanding.

    Liked by 1 person

    • intellectualkitten says:

      I will definitely watch it again! There is a lot of subtle storyline and it will be fun to watch it again. The author put a lot of scheming in this story and I still haven’t wrapped my head around it all 😛
      Out of the evil characters… Xia Jiang is my favourite by far, but I also enjoyed the character of Xie Yu ^^

      Like

  5. Believe me you will find it more enjoyable from your re-watching. The connection in this drama is so well-prepared so don’t skip it even a minute. I have re-watched it several times and still find it unboring.

    Like

    • intellectualkitten says:

      Thank you! :3 So far, I am not completely addicted to this drama. It is really good but some moments were (boring). I am sure if I watch it again, I will find it more appealing and touching ^^ How many times did you watch?

      Like

      • Maybe 5-6 times (full 54 eps) and more than 10 times (for selected eps). I have to catch all details from this amazing drama. You really can’t get all points from your 1st watching, I bet even second time. I got more and more enjoyable from my re-re-watching. It will be more enjoyable if I can understand Chinese but even not it already stole my heart. You really found some points boring? No. You need to re-watch it to get more detail. I’m sure there are many points that you missed from your first watching.

        Like

      • intellectualkitten says:

        Woah!! You watched so many times @_@. Okay, I will watch it again in the future and get back to you ^^
        I think that is the thing with dramas like Zhen Huan Zhuan and Nirvana in Fire. There is so much dialogues that it may seem boring the first time you watch… but that actually give deepness to the drama.

        Like

  6. xingfenzhen says:

    I really liked watching this drama, and watching it the second time will give you a different outlook in the story. Since backstory of the characters are not fully revealed in the beginning, watching it the second will help you understood why people do things they do and some of the strangeness of their actions goes away.

    Also reading the book will show you how they changed things to suit the TV audience. For example Nihuang’s role is greatly expanded and her ending in the book is quite different than the TV drama.

    Like

    • intellectualkitten says:

      Thanks for the feedback, crazy to see this is such a beloved drama by so many people here!
      Now I am curious, what was the supposed ending for Nihuang? I thought she didn’t appear a lot in the drama overall :/

      Like

      • xingfenzhen says:

        She even appeared less in the novel.

        Spoiler, in the married 聂铎 and her relationation with Mei Changsu is more like brother and sister than lovers. In the drama, 聂铎 is role is cut and her relationship with Mei Changsu becomes a star crossed romance story.

        Like

      • intellectualkitten says:

        Hmm.. I think the drama version is better, it adds a poetic feeling to the story. But bromance would be adequate too ^^
        Do you know if Jing Consort had feelings for the king?

        Like

  7. My favourite drama of all time XD

    The first couple of episodes was definitely hard to watch because so many characters and future plotlines were set up. Plus the dialogue is more complicated than usual dramas. I relied on character charts from weibo to keep track of who was who lol.

    At the end of ep 2, when Mei Changsu held onto Nihuang’s hand for longer than he should have, MY HEART died. That subtle acting.

    Pretty soon I started watching it every night it aired as long as I was at home lol. The story, the characters, the acting, the cinematography, the background music – loved all of it. I haven’t rewatched the drama in full yet, but there’s certain episodes and scenes I have replayed way too many times.

    Like

    • intellectualkitten says:

      Hehe, I edited the “first” for you :3. The first few episodes are mostly setting up the story, nothing is really happening (except for Jin Dong <
      I wish I watched the drama as it was airing. There are a lot of scenes I wish I could fangirl with others or even collect pictures. I remember the last OST was extremely powerful and the last scene very satisfying. I will definitely give this drama another try ^^

      Like

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