The Rise of Phoenixes streams with English subtitles on Netflix beginning today here. The series is the first ancient drama brought in as a “Netflix original” and stars Chen Kun, Ni Ni, Ni Dahong, Liu Mintao, Zhang Xiaochen, and Bai Jingting.
Here’s a bunch of stills and posters that have been released since the show begun airing other than the ones we’ve already posted, like Chen Kun’s color palette and Ni Ni’s costumes. The show also has a great OST, including Helpless 奈何 by Sam Lee, How did we become so helpless 何奈何 by Ni Ni, Like Yesterday 如昨 by Liu Xijun, and Schemes 心机 by Wang Xiaomin. A couple more behind-the-scenes stuff have also been released since the last round-up. Watch them here and here.
Poster set by Yin Chao:
Netflix “Originals” aren’t necessarily Netflix productions, but sometimes are exclusive airing rights for new or currently airing dramas. Quite a few of the Korean simultaneous broadcast dramas are “Netflix Originals”. Same situation with “Meteor Garden 2018”.
Netflix did pick up Disguiser and All Quiet in Peking, so I think there’s a good chance Nirvana in Fire will make it to Netflix at some point in the future!
I’ve never paid any attention to Netflix, so my main take-away from this is that “Netflix Original” doesn’t mean what I would assume it meant.
TBF I think the script is a mess. It’s like a 70-episode movie, but no one wants to sit through a 70-episode movie. The characterization succeeds 100% based on the acting abilities of the leads.
I read they were given scripts the day of acting because they were in such a rush. Why would they spend so much money but not pay their scriptwriters enough to get a full script in time? The jokes fall flat (the few scenes that made me chuckle are often improvised), lines that are suppose to make the characters sound smart sound like they’re from /iamverysmart ,and actions often do not match characterization. The character in the book sounds perfect for Ni Ni and she does a good job of portraying her, but in the drama you never really see her intelligence or ambition through action. You could’ve cut her entire plot and it would still be a coherent story. If Chen Kun weren’t so good looking and a good actor he would be on my blacklist after the way the way they kept all the boring other princes and Zhao Lixin scenes but cut most of Yuan Hong/Wang Ou.
I’m starting the drama on Netflix, and I actually enjoy Zhao Lixin’s scenes. I read that Netflix bought the 70 episode version (or the so-called DVD version). I was hopeful that at least we’ll get a decent amount of Yuan Hong and Wang Ou (and Zhang Xiaochen, who I like a lot too). Now I’m worried. It sounds like you’re watching the DVD version and even this longer version has cut plentiful of scenes too?
Zhang Xiaochen has plenty of scenes but not much character development. Yuan Hong has few scenes but theyre all important. Wang Ou is barely there and has maybe one big scene.
I thought Zhao Lixin and Hu Ke (his wife, for the few scenes she showed up) were wonderful characters and actually more fleshed out on-screen than in the book. Similarly, the Crown Prince and second prince plots were rounded out, they were given really human and relatable motives, when in the book these characters were pretty flimsy stock villains.
Yuan Hong’s character I’m comfortable blaming on the screenwriter (same with Helian Zheng), but Wang Ou and the entire Minhai Arc is really not the fault of the production team — it can’t be more clear that the censors just hated that whole part of the story. Wang Ou was onsite filming for a good three months, which attests to how much involved she was according to the original script.
It breaks my heart to see how much flack this show has gotten bc of forces largely outside its control. Last week Zhao Lixin posted on Weibo an interviewer’s question about what kind of show he wanted to act in next, to which he replied “one that will be allowed to broadcast”
Wang Ou was required to be on site contractually but she was never given her lines until the day of, so I don’t think we really know how much she was in it. The entire female lead line got weakened from scene one when the very first person she killed was murdered by someone else. Bai Jingting and Zhang Xiaochen felt pointless until the Jinshi plot, so to me it just feels like everyone on her plot got dumbed down.
The princes can be 100 % flushed out with a tenth of their screentime. Most of the time they’re on the screen they’re just plotting and it’s a waste of the screentime. There’s no climax or tension and I want to just fastforward, but they often don’t actually show the schemes being carried out so I can’t even fastforward. I’m also side-eyeing the fact that everyone who has more screen time than in the book is in Chen Kun’s company (two of the princes, Zhang Xiaochen, Ni Dahong, and the servant).
Also I read that it’s not SARFT but that some outside advisors said it was too long and asked them to cut from 90 to 70 episodes.
I just started watching the 70 episode DVD version. The editing is really bad and I feel like they cut out a scene and then the next one doesn’t make sense. The costumes and props are good but not on the superb level that Tribes and Emperor was on (the other drama that had horrible editing, but the prettiness kept me watching). The only thing keeping this drama going is the acting by Chen Kun and Ni Ni.
The script itself is not well paced, too much talking and not enough action. I mean if the script is done well then a lot of talking can work (see NIF), but most of this script is just waffle and does nothing for plot progression. If this is how the script is for the whole original 100 episodes then I actually agree with whoever decided to cut it.
I’ve read the book – it’s a lot better paced, and Ni Ni character is like 100% smarter which is why the male lead liked her in the first place. For most of the book they are actually enemies and intellectually sparring with each other which makes it so good.
Anyway I’m up to episode 9 at the moment – should I keep going or not?
I think the best shot part of the drama is when she joins the imperial court. Maybe jump around to that segment and see how you feel?
Definitely the best part is when she enters the imperial court onwards. The pace speeds up at around episode 10ish? And the pace doesn’t slow down. By the time you reach episode 45, it’s as if it’s on fast forward speed or something. They definitely condense a lot of the plot towards the end. I have a feeling it got something to do with cutting off scenes that wouldn’t pass SAFT & realising they only got 30 episodes left to wrap everything up =.= .
I feel like a lot of the disappointment comes from feeling wasteful for the huge names involved, talents, production team and effort put into the drama. It was set up for success with it’s budget, an interesting storyline as its base, great casting and directorship but felt like it was restricted by some sort of external party involved.
I think it’s just so highly anticipated that we expected nothing less than a perfect production. In my opinion, it was worth watching just to see the sexual tension between chen kun and Ni Ni. The casting and production value definitely carried this production 120%. And in no way was it a bad drama.
This is the first time I saw the two main leads in anything. I’m kind of disappointed that it wasn’t well received on tv as it may mean I won’t be seeing these two in any future drama projects for a long time TT ^ TT .
Does anyone know what Chen Kun is filming these days? I saw Vicki Zhao posting a picture of her visiting him on some sort of ancient/wuxia film set TT^TT
I heard the editing was mostly self-imposed because the tv station wouldn’t buy it unless it was cut tighter. Supposedly they cut 20 eps themselves and then SARFT 10. That’s why fans have been asking for a director’s cut.
Chen Kun finished up filming a wuxia movie with Zhou Xun recently that looks amazing. https://cfen.si/2018/07/24/first-stills-for-chen-kun-zhou-xuns-upcoming-wuxia-film/
He is currently filming another ancient fantasy film based off Onmyoji.
Ni Ni is filming a xianxia drama with Chang Chen and Zhang Zhixi.
Also since you haven’t seen their stuff before, I recommend Chen Kun’s Painted Skin 2 (with Zhou Xun, Zhao Wei, Yang Mi, and Feng Shaofeng) and Ni Ni’s Suddenly Seventeen (with Wallace Hou and Wang Talu. I think you can find both on YouTube. Chen Kun has a long filmography but I’m not sure how easy it is to find his older works. Ni Ni’s most well known work is The Flowers of War but that’s super depressing. She’s beautiful in it, though. Steer away from both of her films with Jing Boran.
OMGOD thanks so much. So much films to look forward to and watch! Yeah, I’m going to steer off sad movies/dramas for a while =.=. I’ve just finished painted skin last night and Chen Kun was so good in that one as well. The love making scene, the fighting scene….he looks hot even getting bashed up.
The Weary poet looks awesome! Can’t wait for both of Chen Kun’s new movies! I really hope he picks up more drama projects too so we can see him on screen for longer.
And I can’t believe Ni Ni is involved in another drama project so soon! With another male lead that is a decade older than her haha
Also, I heard Chen Kun is also going to be in painted skin 3. Is this true? Because I also heard word that he won’t be returning to the franchise been thrown around. I hope he returns if vicki zhao or the other lead actress will also be participating
You have to watch Painted Skin 2! I think it’s better than 1 in almost every aspect except maybe the theme song. It’s prettier, more creative, and more fun.
I believe Ni Ni signed up for both projects at the same time. This is actually the second time she’s worked Opposite Chang Chen. They also have an upcoming film called Savages.
Oh yes, that was the one I watched haha. I couldn’t find painted skin 1 anywhere in HD. Painted skin 2 was a nice surprise. It’s still appealing even though it was made a few years back <3 <3
It’s like you and I are watching two different shows because this was easily the best Chinese series I have seen in the past three years. (If we’re talking about Mainland Chinese series with real-time voices, then that would make it the best I’ve seen in the past decade.) Plotting was intricate and detailed, the characters were nuanced and realistic, and need I mention, REAL-TIME VOICES YO. As a non-Chinese, international viewer who loves foreign films, this is a visual feast WITH substance. I do believe that anything past Minhai Arc got bogged down by sloppy writing, but this is definitely replay-worthy material.
Why didn’t Netflix choose Nirvana in Fire instead????
I read this show was likely picked up as a part of Netflix’s “diversity expansion” with a new director in charge of getting more diverse shows. NIF has been out for a while so it wouldn’t be a Netflix Original, and I feel like they only started buying Chinese dramas en mass in the years after NIF. They brought like four dramas from Daylight Entertainment together.
I heard that they decreased the episodes to 56 I stead of 70…..what’s that going to do to the story line
Based on what I’ve seen, it’s a mess. Ever since they went to Jinshi, I have no idea what anyone is doing or why. Characters are dying before they’re properly introduced, and people are appearing in new locations for no reason.
I’m pretty much watching a series of mini-skits of the leads pulling through with all the acting they have to make a scene work even if it’s not coherent from one act to another.
Have you tried the DVD (iQiyi) version yet? The editing is definitely not perfect there either, but compared to the TV version it is a lot more comprehensible, especially in the latter half — the DVD version is 70 episodes compared to the TV’s 56.
My heart is really broken though, because this production team actually shot a full 100 episodes for the show. Then, it get through the censor it was cut down to 70. That’s why the Minhai Arc was so abruptly cut off, and why one version of two possible endings that were shot was actually shown. And then, because Hunan TV didn’t like the low viewership, the station cut 14 more episodes.
The saddest thing of all is that directors unconnected to the show have come forth on Weibo about broadcasting stations taking bribes to fake viewership ratings, and how Phoenixes, which very publicly denounced paying for ratings, suffered as a result.
In any case, I still think it’s a gorgeous show that’s absolutely worth Netflix picking up, and hope that more people will give it a fair chance!
I really hate all this Chinese censorships, restricting the creative direction of a drama :((