First Impression: What do you think of Chen Kun and Ni Ni’s The Rise of Phoenixes?

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Upcoming period drama, The Rise of Phoenixes (凰权弈天下) is based on the novel Huang Quan written by Tian Xia Gui Yuan (pen name). Our male lead is a scheming sixth prince Ning Yi (Chen Kun). Female lead, Feng Zhi Wei (Ni Ni), is an illegitimate daughter of a kingdom who is later framed for a crime and evicted, which leads to her cross-dressing into a famous academy and shines with her keen intelligence. She then seeks vengeance against those who wronged her. This sounds pretty awesome based on the reviews and it’s nice to have our both of our leads as smart and cunning people, sometimes cruel in order to obtain what they want.

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Yuan Hong. =) 3rd Prince of Great Yue.

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Wang Ou.

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Bai Jing Ting. His character works for an assassin organization?

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Previews/BTS/Trailers:

  1. 36 thoughts on “First Impression: What do you think of Chen Kun and Ni Ni’s The Rise of Phoenixes?

    I feel I need a degree in Chinese Language to follow this drama. There is so much dialogue and political terms. It is not easy watching. In fact, I need to keep referring to the Wiki cast list so I can keep up with each new characters. I do enjoy it but I will likely hold off for now till it reaches closer to the end to watch again.

  2. 36 thoughts on “First Impression: What do you think of Chen Kun and Ni Ni’s The Rise of Phoenixes?

    I’m so desperate to watch this. I can’t find it to watch anywhere online without hitting the official video platforms from China which don’t show outside the country. Croton so far has only uploaded the trailers, whereas Heavy Sweetness and Ash like Frost have their latest episodes up on YouTube around the same time as the show is on in China. It’s so frustrating, because seeing all the actor interviews you can tell the actors and actresses really tried hard on set.

    I’ve read the book up to the third volume and left it at that, because the book is quite heavy stuff. Your brain hurts a bit if you don’t focus and skip details. Apparently the production team has changed the story from the novel about 90%. So technically you don’t need to read the novel. It’d be easier to say this is a very distance adaption from the novel. Some novel fans were annoyed because it seemed as if the production team were selling it to be quite close with some minor changes. I also feel a bit cheated for thinking

    I’ve been reading some of the Chinese comments and while most were positive. There were complaints about the slow pace and heavy dialogue. I’m not surprised since this is going to be one of intense palace dramas. However, the production and all the actors seem so good I don’t mind.

    Sorry for the vent, just really want to release my frustration in not being able to watch the last few episodes lol

    • 36 thoughts on “First Impression: What do you think of Chen Kun and Ni Ni’s The Rise of Phoenixes?

      It’s available on maplestage.com

      • 36 thoughts on “First Impression: What do you think of Chen Kun and Ni Ni’s The Rise of Phoenixes?

        Thanks so much! I ended up finding it on maple stage through the Soompi forums. Hallelujah!

    • 36 thoughts on “First Impression: What do you think of Chen Kun and Ni Ni’s The Rise of Phoenixes?

      Check here:
      maplestage

    • 36 thoughts on “First Impression: What do you think of Chen Kun and Ni Ni’s The Rise of Phoenixes?

      dnvod.tv gives the full episodes

  3. 36 thoughts on “First Impression: What do you think of Chen Kun and Ni Ni’s The Rise of Phoenixes?

    I’m really hesitant to start this because while NiNi’s acting looks fierce and phenomenal, Chen Kun’s character looks like an absolute dick, from the 2nd trailer/teaser at least.

  4. 36 thoughts on “First Impression: What do you think of Chen Kun and Ni Ni’s The Rise of Phoenixes?

    Want to watch this sooooo much this but I can’t even find any raw full length episodes so not even going to hope for English subtitles .·´¯`(>▂<)´¯`·.

  5. 36 thoughts on “First Impression: What do you think of Chen Kun and Ni Ni’s The Rise of Phoenixes?

    Those who want to watch the drama can go to those streaming sites *something*nice, LoveTV or maplestg. That said, I had to keep reading the synopsis and characters description just to get through episode 1. The cinematography is beautiful though, as are costumes and styling. Acting also seems solid. I hope this will be subbed in the near future!

  6. 36 thoughts on “First Impression: What do you think of Chen Kun and Ni Ni’s The Rise of Phoenixes?

    Sorry as this question is non-related to above topic. Does any one knows why shushengbar.com is down or its alternative website? I have read several of their chinese book recommendations & watch the TV series counterpart.

    • 36 thoughts on “First Impression: What do you think of Chen Kun and Ni Ni’s The Rise of Phoenixes?

      Because the owner of the website likely didn’t pay the annual hosting fees this year. We’re trying to reach her but no go so far.

  7. 36 thoughts on “First Impression: What do you think of Chen Kun and Ni Ni’s The Rise of Phoenixes?

    I really love this drama so far! The costumes and cinematography are amazing. Ni Ni was a pleasant surprise since I had never seen her work before. At first I thought Chen Kun’s acting was a bit erratic, but then it made sense since he was playing the part of a prince pretending to be crazy and all the other characters see through his facade. I did find myself wishing Ni Ni had more scenes though. She brings a natural levity to her character. They also had a lot of chemistry together. The scene with her undressing behind the screen had a quiet sexual tension the likes of which is rarely seen in asian dramas.

    However, so many of the Chinese reviews were so negative. This was the only drama I managed to sit through ever since Nirvana in Fire finished and I saw a a barrage of one star reviews on douban saying Ni Ni was ugly (which is insane as she is breathtakingly beautiful) and that everyone’s acting sucked. This made me approach the drama with some trepidation because I was afraid it would turn out to be like Tribes and Empires, but it turned out to be one of the best dramas in a while. I highly encourage everyone to check this out!

    • 36 thoughts on “First Impression: What do you think of Chen Kun and Ni Ni’s The Rise of Phoenixes?

      Thanks for your review. It sounds like exactly the kind of costume C-drama I’ve been craving since Nirvana in Fire 2.

      That’s disappointing to hear about the negative reviews And how can anyone say Nini is ugly!

    • 36 thoughts on “First Impression: What do you think of Chen Kun and Ni Ni’s The Rise of Phoenixes?

      yea, I’ve heard that the fans in china is really dissing this drama, making the ratings low and calling it a flop. I’m so sad because the drama may potentially be cut short because of this. It’s an amazing drama and the plot line so far is very intriguing, and I really hate when they cut dramas short. NiNi is nowhere near ugly, and looking at the trailer, she will just get more and more beautiful throughout the drama.

      That’s what I first thought about Chen Kun as well. He plays the idiot character so well, he almost looked like the antagonist. But now, i’m invested in his character. Funny how when playing crazy and dumb doesn’t work, he pretends to be sickly. His character is so intriguing and his just so full of tricks up his sleeve right now. Like the king said, his definitely that needle that no matter where you place, will spill blood.

    • 36 thoughts on “First Impression: What do you think of Chen Kun and Ni Ni’s The Rise of Phoenixes?

      You should try poking around just the recent cdrama section for douban. It’s always unnecessarily harsh on cdramas (and bashing of kdramas but kdramas are still rated higher!). Douban is….pretty bad because there’s competitors/actor fans’ dissing other shows, then there’s people who doesn’t want to give it a fair chance mixed in with little paitence for way too long dramas and too many low quality dramas flooding the market. It’s still fairly good place to find good cdramas, you basically have to mentally equate 5 = watchable, 6 is probably decent if you like what it’s going for. I usually watch 7+ dramas.

      @Moochiball: idk if you’d see this but oh well. They won’t cut the drama short, it’s been fully filmed and post produced and went through everything necessary to be broadcast. There’s speculation it’d get taken off TV because of low ratings but that’s extremely unlikely because the amount of money and people who worked on it, it’d be awkward all around if it did. Even if it does get taken off, it’d finish broadcasting on the internet anyways.

      As for the ratings, the pace feels slow and require you to pay attention, which isn’t what a lot of people is looking for. I think the initial few episodes doesn’t have a lot of tension which can feel very boring to people. Hunan TV’s questionable editing isn’t really helping, douban fans tell everyone to watch the iQiyi DVD version. Regardless, ratings can go up later, Nirvana in Fire ended up with 0.8 average, and NiF II ended up with 0.5 average. They both started pretty low rating wise. They both aired on two channels though.

  8. 36 thoughts on “First Impression: What do you think of Chen Kun and Ni Ni’s The Rise of Phoenixes?

    First off, just love it when everyone can act and has good diction. There’s A LOT of characters, most of the well-known actors haven’t even appeared yet (6 eps in). The characters are quite distinctive from each other in terms of personality and looks so it’s not that hard to tell who’s who after the first few eps.

    It’s quite interesting how Chen Kun’s Ning Yi uses the carefree “I just want to be a tailor” facade to get away with things – like no one really buys it, but they can’t call him out on it, especially the emperor who wants him to be the thorn in everyone’s side. Ning Yi’s interactions with his bodyguard Ning Cheng and also his secret ally/friend Xin Ziyan are amusing.

    Nini is spunky as Feng Zhiwei, she fits into the different styles and isn’t the typical face you see in dramas. I like her banter with Ning Yi, along with her scenes with her mum (played by Liu Mingtao who is awesome in this role as expected).

    The story was a bit confusing at the start but starting to get what’s happening (need to pay close attention to get the details though). I don’t find it slow-paced. Ireally like this drama so far and hope the next eps will be as good!

    • 36 thoughts on “First Impression: What do you think of Chen Kun and Ni Ni’s The Rise of Phoenixes?

      Thanks for the review! I doubt there are going to be subs so I’m living vicariously through you guys who can watch.

      The production team seems to have put a lot of effort into making this a quality drama. I hope the ratings in China improve it sounds like such a refreshing change to all the recent shallow, bright idol dramas.

  9. 36 thoughts on “First Impression: What do you think of Chen Kun and Ni Ni’s The Rise of Phoenixes?

    binged 6 ep, can’t stop.

    Feels like a blend of Nirvana in Fire and Tribe and Empires, however, does measure up to the story of NIF and visual eyecandy of tribes

  10. 36 thoughts on “First Impression: What do you think of Chen Kun and Ni Ni’s The Rise of Phoenixes?

    I’ve binged all 7 episodes so far and I’m liking what I see. The production value definitely rivals NIF in terms of cinematography and acting, though I must admit I’m not invested in Chen Kun’s character’s, Ning Yi’s, fight for the throne yet. The other princes bore me but I do have very little patience for palace intrigue.

    I’m not a big fan of how the drama dumbed down Ni Ni’s character, Feng Zhi Wei. When news of this drama first broke, I read the first ten chapters or so of the novel just to get a feel of the story. What struck me was how intensely grey her character is. This isn’t your everyday Mary Sue. [Spoilers ahead, if that even matters] She straight up murders Wu Yiniang (her uncle’s concubine) in the first chapter and throws Wu Yiniang’s words back at her as she watches her die. I remember loving how that is how Ning Yi meets her for the first time. I find it to be a meeting of equals – two brilliant, cunning minds that are not above cruelty to protect themselves. They are both such anti-heroes and make for such compelling characters to watch.

    In the drama, Feng Zhi Wei isn’t stupid but it does feel like she’s only smart when the plot requires her to be. She feels more like the average spunky, sweet heroine than an intelligent heroine secretly bidding her time for revenge on those who wronged her. She also lost most of her story (and screentime) to Ning Yi, so there’s that.

    BUT. A big BUT that saves everything: Chen Kun and Ni Ni’s incredible chemistry. There’s this sexual tension that is just sizzling under the surface. Ning Yi is clearly drawn to Zhi Wei from their first interaction and [Spoiler!] his proposal to her, “Don’t you think we’re quite compatible – a naive, dumb girl like you and a useless prince like me?” had me giggling like a schoolgirl. That’s just their second meeting, if I remember correctly.

    So, yes, I’ll be watching if only for Chen Kun and Ni Ni.

    • 36 thoughts on “First Impression: What do you think of Chen Kun and Ni Ni’s The Rise of Phoenixes?

      Yes, it seems like they’ve taken the emphasis off Feng Zhi Wei little bit. I haven’t read the book but all the synopsis and summaries I read seemed to indicate the novel was more focused on her story but the drama seems to be split between the male and female lead.

      Your review makes me even sadder I can’t watch 🙁 The trials and tribulations of being an international a C-drama fan. This is why I try to not to anticipate new dramas too much because we never know what will be subbed unlike Korean dramas.

    • 36 thoughts on “First Impression: What do you think of Chen Kun and Ni Ni’s The Rise of Phoenixes?

      I also hope she becomes more ruthless later on. Ni Ni still makes it work for her since she’s such a great actress and comes across as so likable. I can’t even begin to articulate how upset I still am with what they did to Empress Wu in that drama a few years back. However, I have hope that this drama will deliver because the recent episodes have become more intense. Maybe they are easing us into it since the general audience may have a hard time rooting for a female antihero. Please don’t let this be one of those dramas where they promise us a vengeful female lead and it just turns out to be dumb.

  11. 36 thoughts on “First Impression: What do you think of Chen Kun and Ni Ni’s The Rise of Phoenixes?

    They changed alot of the story from what I’ve watched so far. I was hesitant but no regrets this drama is really good so far. I don’t mind changes as long as they make sense in the world they are developing.

    What really has me hooked on so far other than the acting is that they’ve kept the essences of the main character quite close to the book. Sure the female lead is dumbed down a bit and the male lead somehow has a heart lol However, the actors portrayal and actions are quite reflective of the characters from the novel. No matter how I look at it, I can only see Ni Ni as Feng Zhi Wei and Chen Kun as Ning Yi. Plus all the other actors acting is solid.

    I did some research and found the drama head stylist is Zhang Shu Ping, who is a really famous costume designer. He did 3L3W and also Love lost in times. Plus the production team also involved the same etiquette director from Nirvana in Fire. So all the bowing and movement are very precise and detailed. Ugh I can’t stop gushing about this drama. Finally, something I can really dig in.

    I’m saddened this drama isn’t being received as well in China, but I don’t think the production team went all that hard on promotion? Sometimes I wish novel fans could take a step back. Sure it’s great when a drama can follow the book to a T. But if the changes are reasonable and they’ve kept the essence of the novel then I don’t belive it’s a terrible thing.

  12. 36 thoughts on “First Impression: What do you think of Chen Kun and Ni Ni’s The Rise of Phoenixes?

    I’m getting the same dreadful feeling I am getting while watching Tribes and Empires. The feeling of “I want this to be good because of how highly anticipated it is, but I’m not enjoying this yet”. People compare this with Nirvana in Fire but NIF’s plot moves quite fast even though there was also alot of conversation.
    Glad to see international fans liking it though. It’s flopping in China probably because male-centric historical dramas don’t really do well there. If this was in Feng Zhiwe’s POV I’m thinking it could attract more audiences.

    • 36 thoughts on “First Impression: What do you think of Chen Kun and Ni Ni’s The Rise of Phoenixes?

      Female-centric costume dramas are more popular so I wonder why they shifted the focus from the female POV in the novel. Maybe because Chen Kun is a big star and wouldn’t want to play second fiddle?

      • 36 thoughts on “First Impression: What do you think of Chen Kun and Ni Ni’s The Rise of Phoenixes?

        They changed the plot so Chen Kun would sign on to the drama. They had to revise the script several times for his acceptance. But that’s the reason the drama is focused on Ning Yi.

        • 36 thoughts on “First Impression: What do you think of Chen Kun and Ni Ni’s The Rise of Phoenixes?

          wow, they really want chen kun on this project XD. i heard it was because on censorship as well. Is that true?

    • 36 thoughts on “First Impression: What do you think of Chen Kun and Ni Ni’s The Rise of Phoenixes?

      Nirvana is very male centric, and it’s crazy popular, domestic and international wise. When the plot and execution are good, they will be accepted.

      As for Phoenixes, I did read that the TV rating is pretty disappointing, but it looks like online views are getting better. This is probably due to timing. It’s still summer, so light and idol dramas like Heavy Sweetness Ash Like Frost are leading. If I remember correctly, Nirvana was released in the fall, or maybe a bit later. Wasn’t Legend of Miyue released in fall too? Honestly I think the market is pretty oversaturated with palace-centered dramas, with Yanxi and Phoenix already airing, and Ruyi joining in shortly.

  13. 36 thoughts on “First Impression: What do you think of Chen Kun and Ni Ni’s The Rise of Phoenixes?

    I wasn’t expecting to watch this drama because it seemed liked it’ll have a sad ending. But right now, I am hooked on this drama because of NiNi and Chen Kun’s portrayal of their characters and their great chemistry. When they are on screen together, I can’t help but squeal.

    I was quite disappointed to hear that they have changed the story to make it less evolving around NiNi’s character and have dimmed down her character. I feel like female leads like NiNi’s character should be represented more in mainland dramas as it’ll be a breath of fresh air from all the mary sue-like dramas. It’ll also help expand the horizon of acting for main lead actresses. I’m hoping they’ll keep to the essence of the book at least as I don’t think i’ll be able to read such an intense book.

    It definitely has a NIF feel, with the dark colour palettes, solid acting, great characters, political fights, and cute bromance moments between Chen kun, his body guard, and his friend. Chen Kun is just so damn good. I’m falling hard for his acting and his character. I’ve watched each episode at least twice because of him (and also because I can’t follow all the politics lol). I really hope this drama will not end up like tribes and empire and will actually be good. And hopefully, no sad ending

    • 36 thoughts on “First Impression: What do you think of Chen Kun and Ni Ni’s The Rise of Phoenixes?

      To be honest somewhere deep down I feel that it will be a sad ending like you say.
      I haven’t finished the novel so I don’t know the book ending, but seeing how things are going and the previous trailers I can’t imagine Feng Zhi Wei being with Ning Yi…
      Either she hides and leave all the politics or she dies :/

      • 36 thoughts on “First Impression: What do you think of Chen Kun and Ni Ni’s The Rise of Phoenixes?

        Deep down I feel like i’m digging a hole for myself by watching this drama (I can’t do sad endings T^T ), but it’s just so good at the moment. Is the drama similar to the book or did they change a lot from what you’ve read?

        • 36 thoughts on “First Impression: What do you think of Chen Kun and Ni Ni’s The Rise of Phoenixes?

          The book had a happy ending, but Ni Ni (or someone else) said that they changed about 90% of the story so none of us really know what we’re heading towards.

        • 36 thoughts on “First Impression: What do you think of Chen Kun and Ni Ni’s The Rise of Phoenixes?

          The drama team confirmed the plot was changed by 90% as Map-Linh has said. I would treat his as an entirely new story. However, they have kept the essence of the characters mostly similar to the book.

          I’m going to keep watching this just for the quality but yea…prepare the heart for some hurt lol

  14. 36 thoughts on “First Impression: What do you think of Chen Kun and Ni Ni’s The Rise of Phoenixes?

    I rarely comment, more of a silent observer here but I just got to say that I’m loving this drama at the moment – even though I’m watching it with Vietnamese subtitles and need to pause and read each word 😀 – the plot and intrigue is really good and the actors are hitting the nail on the head with their characters. I understand why some people are a bit angry with the script’s changes to the novel, however, I enjoy it and I think it even may have elevated it from the traps that most novel based dramas suffer (being too cliche or stereotypical e.g. kiss scenes, self sacrifice scenes, not to mention constant comparisons to the book at certain scenes etc).
    Maybe the crew could’ve just said they made small changes, like how in Nirvana in Fire 1 they made some changes, that way the readers would be happy.
    But overall, don’t skip this one! If you loved NiF 1 and 2 and just want to escape the light summer ancient dramas for a quick break, watch this one! 😀

  15. 36 thoughts on “First Impression: What do you think of Chen Kun and Ni Ni’s The Rise of Phoenixes?

    Braved watching the first few episodes (lol) but since I understand no Chinese whatsoever, I just focussed on the voices and the interactions—I find it refreshing that the actresses have different voices and that they don’t all sound child-like. It was a wrong move for me since now, I’m craving to watch a subbed version of this, but those damn regional restrictions always dampen my spirits (my only chance of watching this subbed semi-decently is Netflix). Watching the drama feels as if one is watching a film. I love that the series did not start out with the love story but on the political shiz going on—if anything the love story takes a backseat even in the succeeding episodes, though whenever the two leads are together even for just a banter, they absolutely sizzle. From what I gather, and there’s very little of it I tell you, Ning Yi seems to have been imprisoned (I’m assuming it is a prison since it looks very claustrophobic in there, for god-knows-what reason he was in there I dunno) for a wee while then got out under the King’s orders, but pretends to be a useless prince (i.e., the whole I’m-gonna-meet-Daddy-dearest-but-let-me-use-the-eunuch’s-robes-as-my-vomit-basin act). I’ve been looking for a drama that will fill the huge void left by Nirvana in Fire (Nirvana in Fire 2 just wasn’t there for me), and this one looks very promising indeed—now if only I can get my hands on the subs!!! 🙂

    • 36 thoughts on “First Impression: What do you think of Chen Kun and Ni Ni’s The Rise of Phoenixes?

      It’s slated for Netflix, you’ll get first 15 episodes on Sep 14, I think it updates weekly? The drama uses live recording so it’s all the actresses’ own voice 🙂

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