Titles: 琅琊榜 (Lang Ya Bang) / Nirvana in fire
- Hu Ge as Mei Changsu / Su Zhe / Lin Shu
- Liu Tao as Princess Nihuang of Yunnan
- Wang Kai as Xiao Jingyan, prince of Jing
- Wu Lei as Fei Liu, Mei Changsu’s bodyguard
- Victor Huang as Xiao Jinghuan, prince of Yu
- Gao Xin as Xiao Jingxuan, crown prince
- Chen Long as Meng Zhi, commander general of the Imperial Guard
- Ding Yong Dai as Emperor of Liang
- Liu Min Tao as Consort Jing
- Zhang Yan Yan as Li Yang, Grand princess
- Jin Dong as Lin Chen
- Zhou Qi Qi as Gong Yu
- Zhang Ling Xin as Xia Dong
- Wang Yong Quan as Xia Jiang
- Liu Yi Yun as Xie Yu
- Cheng Hao Feng as Xiao Jing Rui
- Guo Xiao Ran as Yan Yu Jin
- Wang Jin Song as Marquise Yan
Directed by: Kong Sheng and Li Xue
Written by: Hai Yan
Based on: The novel Lang Ya Bang by Hai Yan
Plot (from Wiki):
During the 4th century, war broke out between the feudal Northern Wei dynasty and Southern Liang dynasties, leading Liang’s General Lin Xie to take his only child, the 19 year old Lin Shu, to battle. Unexpectedly, Lin Xie was framed by a political rival, causing the unjust deaths of seventy thousand Chiyan army soldiers, just after they drove off the hostile Wei forces. After barely escaping with his life, Lin Shu establishes the Jiangzuo Alliance with the help of Langya Hall and makes a name for himself as Mei Changsu, chief of the pugilistic world. Under the alias of Su Zhe, he returns to the capital of Liang 12 years on to overturn the injustices imposed on the Chiyan Army and secretly assist his friend the unfavoured Prince Xiao Jingyan in his battle for the throne.
Hu Ge is back and he’s burning everything.
The first thing that attracted my attention was the english title they set for the drama: “Nirvana in fire”. How flashy and promising, I thought. But the best part is that NIF truly fulfills its promise: it’s all as brilliant and entertaining that you could ask for. Maybe you’re hesitating because it’s a political drama, but I’m pretty sure that everyone will enjoy this show, even if you don’t fancy political scheming.
I’d describe NIF as a beautiful and intelligent story. The beauty of the scenography is granted, and I like how they play with the sobriety and the opulence. The scenery is dreamy and subtle, and the palace is shown as a wealthy and powerful place (I love how huge is the palace, and how the characters stand there alone against its magnanimity, depicting poignantly the feeling of solitude). Due to all these things, when I finished watching NIF, I felt like I had eneded a long dream to which I ended up being really attached.
The costumes are splendid as well, as you can see in the following pictures. I think they represent accurately their owner’s personality and role in the story.
I’m impressed because NIF has brought to light a bunch of amazing actors that I didn’t know before. No need to say all of them nailed their roles.
(SPOILERS) One of my favorite parts was the arc of Xieyu (played by Liu Yi Yun) and Jingrui (played by Cheng Hao Feng). I didn’t expect several parts of the story, and Mei Changsu (Hu Ge’s character)’s scheming ability is simply impressive. Xieyu felt like a bid bad wolf to me, but not an hateful one (at least not that much, because I really felt sorry for Jingrui and Liyang princess; also Lin family’s tragedy). I admire his inteligence and maybe Xieyu would have achieved everything with his scheming and planning if he hadn’t encountered Mei Changsu. Their intelectual battling is one of the best things I’ve seen in a very long time. In this respect, it’s just awesome how Mei Changsu managed to reunite all the correct people (Xia Dong, Meng Zhi, prince of Yu, Yan Yu Jin and so his father the marquise…) in order to develop his plan. Flawless.
Besides, the last scene between Xieyu and Liyang princess is so powerful. Liyang princess proved to be a strong-willed woman, and the whole story was unexpected in many levels. I don’t want to reveal too much about this last scene, because no words can do justice to it, but if you watch it you’ll understand.
Later, when everything is revealed and Mei Changsu had definitely won, you get to see the farewell of Xieyu, who gets banished to do hard labor. It’s poignant how Jingrui, Xieyu’s son and Liyang princess went to meet him for the last time, and how Xieyu trusted all his secrets to Liyang. Xieyu truly loves Liyang princess, and I think he kinda regrets what he has lost due to his ambition.
Moreover, I look up to Jingrui‘s personality. Not everyone could overcome similar events in such a way. I understand why he can’t come back to his original relation with Mei Changsu, considering that after all, regardlessly of his reasons, he “used” them all as pawns in order to fulfill his plan. Also, Jingrui treats his friends and family with sincerity and respect. He is, ultimately, the kind of friend everyone wants to have.
Wu Lei made a great work portraying little Fei Liu, sweet and adorable. He’s extremely protective towards Mei Changsu and skilled in martial arts. I enjoy watching his fights with Meng Zhi, and how childishly he gets annoyed because Meng Zhi is stronger than him. Yes, in spite of his incredible skills, he is “only” a child who needs to be pampered and can also performs tantrums. I adore how Mei Changsu’s eyes are full of love and pride when he watches Fei Liu.
On the other hand, we have Nihuang princess. She’s brave, skilled and noble. Her relation with Mei Changsu may not be your all-time favourite OTP, but you will truly suffer because of her pain. I was heartbroken in that scene when she, suspecting about Mei Changsu’s true identity, tried to find Lin Shu’s mole and couldn’t discover it. Her disappointment and her knowledge about something going wrong are just terrible. And later, you feel equally sorry when everything is revealed, and alike consort Jing, she acknowledges the horrible suffering that Lin Shu had to endure (explaining why she couldn’t find her original moles or any track of his true identity)…
I will briefly talk about royals and the rest of the characters, before inquiring into Mei Changsu’s character. If I had to name one character who I didn’t like and kinda hate it would be undoubtedly Emperor Liang (and Xia Jiang, of course). The Emperor is selfish, disloyal and pretty ridiculous (considering the level and inteligence of people surrounding him). The final scene when he implores Mei Changsu to “disappear” in exchange of letting the throne to Prince of Jing, so that he didn’t get revealed as the incompetent emperor he is, it’s a perfect representation of all his flaws.
Prince of Yu ended up converted in another pawn of Mei Changsu’s plans. I kinda felt sad for him and his attempt to depose Emperor Liang, as well I empathize with his pressure caused by the expectations the Empress had on him. At the end, I think everything is fault of Emperor Liang and his selfishness as a father and an emperor. Moreover, the woman he trusted in and loved was also using him in order to achieve her own purposes.
Well, and there’s also Prince of Jing, portrayed by raising star Wang Kai (you will see Wang Kai everywhere nowadays). I know he’s handsome and people may notice this over his acting skills, but there are enough sites fangirling about him, so I will just talk about his role as Prince of Jing. I believe we can’t explain his character without Mei Changsu’s. Prince of Jing is a loyal friend, a caring brother and a strongly-willed noble person. He may seem cold and mean on the outside, but only attending to his regret and pain towards the massacre, you will conclude that he’s everything but cold-blooded or insensitive. It’s terrible how lonely he is and how much pressure he has. I was deeply moved and heartbroken when he let Mei Changsu go to war and later uncovers Lin Shu’s “altar” (simbolizing his death); because once again our Jing Yan had to face the solitude and the sorrow of losing his beloved brother.
Another heartbreaking scene is the one below, when Mei Changsu (remembering his past) tries to touch Lin Shu’s (his) arc, and prince of Jing reacts abruptly impeding him. Mei Changsu is soooooo sad here that I can’t even ಥ_ಥ I was constantly screaming things like “BUT JINGYAN, HE’S LIN SHU, HE’S FUCKING LIN SHU” (constantly). Also, I got really angry with prince of Jing everytime he misunderstands Mei Changsu’s intentions. I can imagine why he’s so angry with Mei Changsu’s methods, but just thinking about how he’s treating him without realizing that he’s actually Lin Shu breaks my heart.
Hu Ge’s return is, as I said before, burning everything (really in fire). I’ve always been a huge fan of Hu Ge, as most of the people I think. Seeing him in such a challenging role, so unusual in comparison to what he’s used to, has been as refreshing as pleasant. The temper of Mei Changsu is very different to the ones he is used to perform. No need to say he’s cunning and terribly astute, but he’s also quiet, cautious, concerned, selfless, noble and strong-willed. Everyone is unhappy about turning into a pawn, but I think he neither like to turn people around him into pawns. He is sad, more than anyone in fact, but he can’t be sad (also, his health doesn’t allow him to waste time being sad): he has a duty, the most heavy and exhausting duty in the world. And so, no matter how horrible things are, he has to endure it and overcome everything. Simply admirable.
Two more characters to mention are Xia Dong and one of the antagonistics, Xia Jiang. I dislike Xia Jiang in similar ways in which I dislike the Emperor, but he’s truly much more intelligent than him. On the other side, Xia Dong and his missed husband’s story is pretty touching. I like Xia Dong because she is a strong woman who acts fairly. Besides, she’s kinda badass and trying to fool her would be stupid.
So, if you want awesome scenography, precious soundtrack, unbeatable acting and brilliant storyline: don’t hesitate to watch Nirvana In Fire. Objectively, this is possibly the best chinese (and international) series that has been produced in the last years. In a few words: one of a kind.
- Plot: 20/20
- Cast: 20/20
- OST: 10/10
- Scenography: 10/10
- Costume: 10/10
- Overall: 10/10