Nirvana in Fire

March 12, 2018

Original Title: 瑯琊榜

Country: China

Format: TV Drama

Episodes: 54

Broadcast Year: 2015

Production Company: Shandong Television Media Group

Starring: Hu Ge, Wang Kai, Liu Tao

My Rating:

There is rarely a drama that is so well made as Nirvana in Fire. It was such a big production that garnered immense popularity that I’m kind of embarrassed for ignoring this gem of a drama for so long. At long last, here’s my review for Nirvana in Fire. Read on to see why I recommend it.

Synopsis

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.

DramaWiki

The Good

  • Superb acting
  • Realistic characterization
  • Basically everything

The Bad

  • If I had to nitpick, it’s the slow pacing

Review

First of all, Nirvana in Fire is not a palace harem drama. There are no concubines scheming for the throne. In fact, it’s quite the opposite because we have princes fighting for the throne. However, that’s not the main story. While there are some action scenes here and there, it is not a full-fledged wuxia epic. At the heart of it all, Nirvana in Fire is a revenge story led by the prodigy, Mei Changsu. Unlike other revenge stories fueled by the principle “an eye for an eye,” Mei Changsu goes deep. He manipulates court politics in order to publicly right the wrongs that was done to him, his family and his army. He doesn’t want the perpetrator dead. Rather, he wants him to admit his mistakes and restore his family’s reputation.

Hu Ge as Mei Changsu. Photo © Shandong Television Media Group

Compared to other period dramas I’ve seen, Nirvana in Fire has the most realistic portrayal of character personalities and interactions in my opinion. There are many dramas out there in which antics are exaggerated “for TV.” You won’t find that here! Instead you will find beautiful enactments of friendship, loyalty and love.

Princess Nihuang (played by Liu Tao) and Mei Changsu. Photo © Shandong Television Media Group

Of course, there is no story without the amazing cast. Their superb acting skills help bring all these characters and interactions to life. There are many powerful scenes throughout Nirvana in Fire that touch the heart and make you tear up. The camaraderie between Lin Shu (played by Hu Ge) and Prince Jing (played by Wang Kai) makes me envious. The unspeakable bond between Lin Shu and Princess Nihuang (played by Liu Tao) makes your heart ache. The devotion that Fei Liu (played by Leo Wu) shows Lin Shu is also admirable. One downside is that it might take a while to keep track of all the characters. But don’t worry, it’s doable!

Prince Xiao Jing Yan (played by Wang Kai). Photo © Shandong Television Media Group

At 54 episodes, it is a bit daunting at first. The story moves along at a sluggish pace but I can safely say that each episode is crucial to the overall plot. There is no filler material whatsoever. I advise you not to skip or skim anything. Nirvana in Fire consists of 54 episodes of pure eye candy. Each episode feels like watching a movie. There is also poetic nuance to every scene. When paired with the soundtrack, you’ve got yourself a winner worthy of a marathon!

Due to the popularity and demand, they made a sequel titled Nirvana in Fire 2: The Wind Blows in Chang Lin. It features a new generation of characters. However, it is not as well received so I may skip it for now.

More Information: DramaWiki

This is my drama review and is entirely opinionated. Your opinions may differ. Any offense caused by my rants and ramblings is unintentional. Thank you for understanding.

1 Comment

  1. Guimel says:

    Nirvana in Fire is just superb great in every aspect. The sequel is also good, maybe not as much as the first part but is still a good drama and the main characters are quite more relatable

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