Burning Flames: Ren Jialun and Xingfei Drama’s First Impression (2024)

Burning Flames has finally started airing. Honestly, I was not expecting much from this series to begin with but was pleasantly surprised after watching 8 episodes.

For the first 6 episodes, it seems to get mixed reviews because of the special effects used in the series.

Hmm…if the show has a strong story, it can succeed despite its shortcomings, which is the case for Burning Flames. What I meant by saying this is that the best thing about this production lies in its storyline and delivery. (while it might be too early to say this but yes, the first 8 episodes were promising)

Thankfully! the series avoids voice dubbing for the main leads, allowing viewers to hear RenJialun and Xingfei’s natural voices. ( I kinda hate it when production uses dubbing to replace the original ones. It’s unbearable with the same kind of voices in different characters everywhere. While I understand where standard Mandarin is needed, dubbing becomes necessary. But, still, if actors could use their original voice then it’s the cherry on top for me. )

The show is based on the manhua “Wu Geng Ji” (武庚纪), starring Allen Ren Jialun and Xing Fei, reuniting them after their previous collaboration in “Miss Crow With Mr. Lizard” in 2021.

Burning Flames – Plot Introduction

  • Episodes: 40
  • Starring: Ren Jialun, Xingfei
  • Genre: Drama, Xuanhuan, Male-Centric, Romance
  • Director: Wai Men Cheng, Liu Chongchong
  • Original Platform: iQIYI
  • Broadcast Details: 13 March, 2024 –
  • Filming Period: December 26, 2022 – May 4, 2023

Plot Summary: A human prince, Wu Geng (portrayed by RenJialun) life turns upside down after his country collapses and his family is destroyed by Immortals.  Following this, he’s compelled to live the life of a commoner. Well, it was just the beginning of his new endeavors. He then is accidentally caught by a tyrant and is forced to work as a slave in the mines.

Despite one after another heavy blow, Wu Geng keeps learning, leveling up in skills and knowledge about the world and the people who live there. His first mission was to escape from that slavery pit and continue his journey ahead, so he could fulfill his father’s dream. Or also His shared dream with his father; to establish a world, where humans can live with freedom, peace, and happiness.

Even though the show is set in a fantasy world, it still remains relatable. It depicts human emotions, struggle, suffering, domination, family, love and attachment. The main male lead, Wu Geng’s journey portrays how humans can refine themselves and have the power to change anything if their willpower is strong. One’s belief and hard work can not only help one survive the worst but also thrive and bloom.

Even after losing everything, Wu Gang is ready to start over everything. Isn’t that amazing?

Ren Jialun, Xingfei Burning Flames Chinese Drama
Bai Cai (Xing Fei) & A Gou (Ren Jialun)

Romance may be a subgenre here, but it doesn’t stop viewers from watching this series. Many interesting things are going around there in the plot, that one simply won’t mind even if it’s slow-burn romance to no romance at all (though I find every interaction between A Gou and Bai Cai to be sweet and adorable).

So, If someone is looking for a heavy romance plot, then this might not be the right fit.

What we can explore or understand is the value of dignity, tranquility, and liberty for mankind. Along with these key elements, the show primarily focuses on the importance of Love and Respect. By saying this, I’m not only referring to romantic love here but every kind or form of love that exists in this world.

Main Characters

Wu Geng/ A Gou

Wu Geng is a human Prince. By nature, he is tough, kind, and resilient. To achieve his goal, he uses his compassionate heart, witty mind, and unbeatable strength. Each difficult time and painful experience shape him into an even more mature and better person. Overall, Wu Geng aka A Gou is an enigmatic character.

Ren Jialun, Burning Flames Chinese Drama
left (Wu Geng), right (A Gou)

Ren Jialun is absolutely suitable for this role. Personally, I seem to like him as A Gou more than Wu Geng who is a bit stony and expressionless. I think his charisma and warmth perfectly align with A Gou. Even if A Gou can’t speak in the initial phases, his gestures and sweet smile are enough to make you giggle. So I think, Ren Jialu’s performance as A Gou is way more effective than Wu Geng’s.

(I don’t seem to exactly pinpoint whether it’s the actor’s or the director’s fault for not being able to bring the best out of his actor but yes, something was a bit off about Ren Jialun’s expression or emotional display in Episode 2 as Wu Geng. In other words, It felt a bit muted emotionally. Of course, this is just my interpretation, others might have seen it differently.).

What happened to A Gou and his memory? (Spoiler Alert)

[Episode 3] Many viewers seem to get confused about if A Gou is the shred spirit of Wu Geng that his mother created, after Wu Geng is resurrected as A Gou why he did not have a recollection of A Gou’s memory? Well, I’m also pondering over this but has no definite answer. According to the script, A Gou was created by his mother when Wu Geng was born. She did it to protect him from Immortal’s attack as she already predicted the outcome for the future.

The possible explanation for this could be that after entering A Gou’s body Wu Geng’s memory simply takes place over A Gou’s because A Gou was just the fragment or piece of Wu Geng’s essence or soul. (This kind of case happened in many fantasy costume series. Once the original host takes the body, the temporary one will lose its memory).

Also, taking over A Gou’s body does not necessarily mean that A Gou is dead but his soul is reunited with its original host.

Bai Cai

Bai Cai is a kind, gentle, and smart orphan girl. She has no idea who her parents are and how she came into the world. She has this strange kind of illness where her body gets stiff and cold like a dead. One day when she was under this strange disease relapse, an orphan boy came and saved her. And this boy was none other than Agou. From then on, Agou has become one of the closest and most important friends for Bai Cai. They live under the same roof with other 4 little orphan Kids.

Ren Jialun, Xingfei Burning Flames Chinese Drama
Xing Fei as Bai Cai

After the Xin state collapses, along with Wu Geng (Agou), she is thrown into the slavery pit and has to work her way out to escape from there. Life was already hard for her, this incident made it even worse. However, by the side of Agou, she gets a glimmer of hope, protection, and companionship.

Before Watching ‘Burning Flames’

As I mentioned above, I had very little expectations for this show. One of the reasons behind this was that the Xuanhuan isn’t really my style.

  • Xuanhuan: a genre of Chinese fantasy that often features martial arts and supernatural elements (it covers all kinds of Chinese fantasy that don’t strictly fit into wuxia or xianxia. For basic understanding, You can think of wuxia as realistic fiction, xianxia as high fantasy, and Xuanhuan as science fiction or epic fantasy. ).

Secondly, the drama was getting attention since its launching periods – not the positive kind but negative attention due to casting choices and reported production team behavior.

Initially, Li Yitong was the chosen female lead in the series. However, after some disagreement between the two parties (the production team, and the actress), Li resigned from the role.

Apart from that, Burning Flames is a male-centric drama, whoever was gonna play the female lead role, was not going to get enough exposure and highlights as compared to the male lead.

Due to these specific reasons, most of the actresses were not willing to take the role. Fortunately, It was Xing Fei who took the role in the end. And I think it was the best choice. Why? Xing Fei as Bai Cai nailed her role perfectly. She is full of vitality, charm, and energy. Her bubbly and cute temperament fits the character well. Li Yitong is a good actress, but can’t imagine her giving justice to this kind of role.

Ren Jialun, Xingfei Burning Flames Chinese Drama
Xing Fei as Bai Cai

Overall, Xing Fei ‘delivers another strong performance here. Her last performance that I watched in the costume genre was ‘Side Story of Fox Volant’ (released in 2022) where her acting prowess was equally impressive.

Overall Impressions:

Viewers are simply taken into the world where humans and Immortals coexist. The show is neither too rushed nor too slow, making it well-balanced. The first two episodes set the foundation for the forthcoming story; it mainly focuses on the story of the male protagonist’s parents story introducing the relationship and its dynamic between humans and Immortals. It hints at the overall plot arc.

The series has yet to fully introduce the Immortals, but the initial glimpses paint them as a cruel and powerful race who view humans with disdain. They give off a more demonic vibe than the typical celestial immortal.

The main lead story literally starts to kick off from Episode 3 like how we’re used to most dramas these days.

Being the Xuanhuan genre, the CGI quality in the drama is passable. Yes, it’s not that ‘wow’ type, but uneven at times. The close-up fight scenes showcase impressive detail, but the larger-scale battles with surging powers could benefit from some polish.

But somehow, it also hints that the production team might have wanted to keep it realistic. If you’ve noticed, the drama has used very less filters giving a real look to the performers (except for Immortals). Compared to other Xuanhuan dramas with lackluster effects, Burning Flames gives off an acceptable balance.

Burning Flames Chinese Drama
Burning Flames scene/Top (Peter Ho)

Also, perhaps because the series might be adapted from the original work like Manhua/Anime, the special effects and costume design of each character and specific scenes will give you the vibe of Anime/Donghua. If you watch Episode 1, you’ll see that Peter Ho’s costume to hairstyle are very similar to Anime. Most of the characters introduced in Episode 1 have this kind of anime aura or looks.

Do you recommend this Drama?

Yes. Burning Flames is worth watching. I recommend this drama to costume drama lovers, especially to those who are into the Xuanhuan genre. Even though the special effects or visuals are not of high quality, the storyline covers it all. You can enjoy the slice of a fantasy world with some of the real human world issues connected to it. I’ve only talked about the very basic things about the plotline here as I don’t wanna spoil the major plot.

The whole plot and story are yet to be unfolded. Even if you read reviews somewhere, I encourage you to check dramas on your own, so you can form your own ideas and opinions about the drama. Why? Cuz we all have different tastes.

Burning Flames is currently premiering on iQIYI.

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