Sunday, August 24, 2014

Nirvana in Fire features Wang Kai as the brooding Prince Jing opposite Hu Ge's Mei Changsu

After watching Battle of Changsha, I became an loyal fan of the company that produced it - Shandong Film and TV Group. This production company is highly respected and praised in the Chinese entertainment industry for its ability combine great storytelling with execution in dramas. When I heard the famous online novel, Nirvana in Fire or Lang Ya Bang, was going to get adapted into a TV series starring Hu Ge and Liu Tao, it didn't strike much excitement. When I heard the production company was Shandong Film and TV Group, however, my eyes went blink blink blink.


The more research I did into Shandong Film and TV Group and Lang Ya Bang, the more emotionally immersed I became into the story, particularly into one character - Prince Jing 靖王 or Xiao Jingyan 萧景琰, the seventh prince of the Southern Liang Dyansty. Prince Jing is the second leading character in this story who emerges as the dark horse in the succession battle and ultimately wins the throne. In contrast to many TV dramas that markets its story around the "one true pairing," Nirvana in Fire is lacking in the romance department.  The novel centers heavily on brotherhood and  revenge. It chronicles the male protagonist's one-man journey of revenge and the brotherly relationship between Mei Changsu (formerly Lin Shu) and his cousin Prince Jing.

For your convenience, I copied the wiki synopsis of Nirvana in Fire to help you better understand the story.

Wiki Summary:
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 17-year old Lin Shu, to battle. Unexpectedly, Lin Xie was framed by a political rival, causing the unjust deaths of seventy thousand Chi Yan army soldiers, just after they drove off the hostile Wei forces. Fortunately, the young Lin Shu was rescued by a loyal subordinate, although he barely escaped with his life. With the help of Lang Ya Hall, Lin Shu was able to establish the Jiang Zuo Alliance, and returns to the capital 12 years later as the leader Mei Changsu. He secretly assists his friend Xiao Jingyan, the unfavoured son of Emperor Wu and wisely rids the court of scheming officials, successfully overturning the past injustices imposed upon the Chi Yan army ahead of his imminent death. 
Top: Liu Shu and Prince Jing as carefree teenage boys.

Below: Prince Jing works closely with Mei Changsu without realizing the man before him is the very person he has been searching for in past 12 years.
In Nirvana in Fire, the 31-year old Prince Jing is described as a man of few words and few smiles. His stubborn nature does not allow him to yield to the injustices and oppression that he faces. Twelve years ago, his best friend/cousin Lin Shu (Mei Changsu's real identity), the entire Lin clan, and his favorite eldest brother Prince Qi 祁王were brutally framed for treason and annihilated. Since that tragedy, Prince Jing works tirelessly to bring justice to the dead. Unbeknownst to Prince Jing, his childhood best friend Lin Shu survived the political butcher and returned under the alias of Mei Changsu. As a famous strategist, Mei Changsu works meticulously to exact his revenge plan and support Prince Jing in the succession crisis.

Prince Jing is a quiet royalty in the imperial court. Because of his persistence to right the wrong that happened to his best friend and brother, Prince Jing fell out of his father's favor, the Liang Emperor. Although he made countless military contributions, his father refuses to bestow him any recognition. He would rather fight in the battlefield and exile himself from the capital than face scheming politicians. He despises ugly court politics with a passion. The death of his childhood best friend and favorite brother completely destroyed his idyllic worldview. He only later wets his hand in dirty politics and joins the succession race because only power can give him what he sought - justice.
Compared to Hu Ge's popularity in the television industry, Wang Kai who plays Prince Jing is relatively unknown to many Chinese netizens. He first emerged from anonymity playing a homosexual director in the Chinese remake of the comedy Ugly Betty.  In recent years his works concentrated mostly in the Republican Era genre and Nirvana in Fire is actually his first attempt in an ancient period setting. His most famous role to date is Detective Gongsun in the Republica Era remake of the Justice Bao story, New Detective Alliance. In my opinion, Wang Kai is quite malleable as an actor. I have seen his mannerism change from effeminate to snotty coldness on screen. As I love the Prince Jing character, I highly hope that Wang Kai will be able to transform Prince Jing into an unforgettable character. The production company successfully has brought Prince Jing's physically appearance to life. Wang Kai just need to bring out the spirit of the prince.
Prince Jing teaches his nephew archery
The Crown Prince and Prince Jing get embroiled into hostage crisis?


Actor Wang Kai, Liu Tao, and Chen Long chatting on the set

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