Burning Flames (2024) 烈焰

Summary: Based on an animated series, human clan Xin Kingdom prince Wu Geng ft Allen Ren Jia Lun is half human, half immortal clan. He experienced the death of his loved ones and became a slave to the immortal clan. With the help of good friend, Bai Cai ft Xing Fei, he learns to survive and thrive, while saving many others. His ultimate goal is to seek revenge for his family and overthrow the tyrannical rule of the immortal clan.



Total Episode Count: 40

Initial Airing Date: March 13, 2024

Platform: iQiyi

*Note – English translations may not match official translations


Initial Rating: 6.3/10 [First 10 episodes]: A drama that leans heavily on the source material, which is turning to be a double edged sword. It is better than I initially expected but this is not Ren Jia Lun’s best work. It’s decent enough to watch while we wait for other upcoming dramas in March.

wu geng/ a gou 伍赓/阿狗

ren jia lun 任嘉伦

Prince of the Xin Kingdom. Revived as “A Gou” and sets out to overthrow tyranny of the immortal clan to avenge his family and bring the humans out of slavery

bai cai 白菜

xing fei 邢菲

A young woman who grew up with A Gou. They took care of each other for many years. 

A Lan 阿岚

Zhu Xu Dan 祝绪丹

Powerful member of the Shen Yin clan. She becomes teacher to A Gou to help him master his powers.



Initial Thoughts

This drama was embroiled in controversy since it started filming. I remember that 李一桐 Li Yi Tong was supposed to take the main female role but for some reason backed out last minute and it went to Xing Fei. Apparently there was some unpleasantness during the casting period. We will never know for sure unless the cast publicly makes a statement. From some comments I’ve seen, people think that Li Yi Tong dodged a bullet by not being in this drama. 

Unfortunately, this drama has not received a lot of praise from initial reactions. However, it has managed to breach 8500 on iQiyi’s popularity index in the 2-3 days since airing so at least there’s some buzz around it. This does speak to Allen Ren Jia Lun’s overall appeal plus the bigger production of this drama. 

My personal take is that this was actually a better drama than I initially thought. I told Cathy that I’m surprised I binged 10 episodes over the weekend. Though there are still a myriad of problems with it. Here’s a quick review of this drama for now. There are a lot of other dramas airing over the next few days so if I get back to this, I’ll write a final review but I think I should have captured most of the thoughts here. 


What are the issues:

  • Costumes/hairstyles are not flattering: They are supposedly quite true to the source material, the 3D animated series this drama is based on. But comments I’m seeing say that this is one instance where it’s better to not be so true to the source material. The hairstyles and costumes are too rigid and over-the-top to be flattering. That is the case with many of cast members. The mop that Allen Ren sports as A Gou or “Dog” at the beginning of the drama….leaves much to be desired. The hairstyle his mother, Ma Su, is wearing also does not fit the frame of her face. Jiang Xin aka Consort Hua from Empresses in the Palace is also in this drama as an antagonist and the comments online are all like, Consort Hua, what are you doing here? I like you’re acting but the hairstyle is hideous. 
  • This drama takes itself too seriously? Burning Flames has a massive cast, a ton of decent CGI, and decent production design. But it’s a rather heavy drama. Maybe there are some moments of calmness but the overarching tone is more dark. Slavery and oppression are key themes of this drama and we are very forcefully shown what must be done to survive but also to fight back. That’s all well and good but is somewhat at odds with how over-the-top the world that’s created is. The flamboyant costumes, and colorful CGI suggest this should be a campy-er drama rather than what we’ve received. I can almost feel like I’m in a video game or an anime watching this drama meaning it didn’t translate that well on screen. 
  • Allen Ren Jia Lun’s poor voice acting: This is the second drama I’ve seen him in where he’s dubbing his own voice. It was a problem in Qing Jun/Thousand Years for You and it’s an even bigger problem here. I struggle to get over it. He just sounds very nasally and forced as if you can tell very clearly he’s try to act. It just doesn’t sound natural and detracts a lot from his performance on screen.
  • Xing Fei’s Bai Cai is as bland as her name (cabbage): The chemistry between Allen Ren and Xing Fei isn’t very strong. For the first 10 episodes or so, they just seem like good friends and partners. I’m not really seeing much spark between them. I’m not sure if it’s an actor problem or more of the plot problem. Xing Fei though, isn’t very memorable in this role. She mostly plays support for Ren Jia Lun’s Wu Geng/A Gou. 

What’s been decent:

  • Decently paced plot: Once you get through all of the issues mentioned above, and really move past the first 3 episodes, the plot moves at a fast pace and kept me engaged. Before we know it, Wu Geng is “killed” and reawakened in the body of “A Gou”. Then he’s carted off with Bai Cai to the mines to slave away for the immortal clan. Stuff happens and then they meet a new Immortal clan. There’s enough happening that, like I said, I was surprised I caught up to all available episodes.
  • Strong world building/massive cast: While the story still involves humans and immortals, there is a sense of depth to this world. There’s a lot of lore that needs to be understood and with a big budget, there are many cast members and varying locations that offer us a bigger, more fleshed out world. This drama does give a sense that there are more creatures and beings out there in the world that offers more imagination that being restricted to only those in our story.
  • Above average production quality: Credit where credit is due. The bigger sets and abundant use of CGI shows that this is a higher production quality drama. It’s decent to watch and doesn’t look overly cheap  (except somehow for the wigs). Is it the most seamless special effects? No. But not the worst either. 
  • Shen Yin clan + Zhu Xu Dan (Bambi Zhu): We’re only getting introduced to the new clan of Shen Yin that takes A Gou and Bai Cai in. Thus far, this is a colorful group of powerful individuals. Zhu Xu Dan, who’s been the topic of controversy with Yu Zheng of late, makes a strong appearance, at least for the brief episodes I’ve seen her in. We’ll see where this goes further but she is a bright spot so far.

Let me know what you think!



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