Nirvana in Fire 琅琊榜 is the best historical c-drama
in 2015, in recent years, maybe ever and that's saying a lot considering dramas are a dime a dozen nowadays.
It is based on a popular novel but despite the existing fanbase, NIF premiered to a lackluster response. Nevertheless, its success came slowly but surely, providing an interesting parallel to the story's quiet pacing where protagonist Mei Changsu's (Hu Ge) intentions went from subtle nuances to a full blown revenge.
In the simplest sense, NIF is about a man who goes through great lengths to exact vengeance, systematically planning every step against all odds. However, put the story in a historical setting inside the palace and we have the makings of an engaging political plot.
NIF is the guy-centric answer to more successful Chinese palace dramas and it works, offering a fresh take on the usual palace conspiracies that tend to revolve around women. I run the risk of sounding like a chauvinist but I welcomed the change since women in the palace are often relegated to a fate of fighting over a man to gain power, which is so good when done right, but it can get catty.
Gone are the days when Hu Ge was fresh meat 小鲜肉 because his performance in NIF along with the cast in its entirety is on another league, catapulting many names such as Wang Kai, Jin Dong and Wu Lei into mainstream popularity. Liu Tao isn't my favorite actress but she is admittedly the best choice to play a warrior, truly embodying a female hero.
Apparently, there is a Nirvana in Fire tour catering to Korean fans where tourists get to visit places such as Heng Dian (a gigantic land where pretty much most historical dramas are shot) and they also make a pitstop at Hu Ge's restaurant in Shanghai. If it's real, I kind of wanna go. Oh and by the way, there's a sequel.