Call Me By Fire (2021) 披荆斩棘的哥哥 : Reality Show Review (Episode 1 – 5)

Call Me By Fire! Really Fire Time!

33 male artists from various discipline in the entertainment circle come together to form a team and train towards performing for a 1,000-strong audience. Throughout the journey, the participants stay together & train with the team, also participating in various activities. The highlight of the reality show is the concert-style performances by the various teams, whereby the audience and a set of professional judges will rank the teams’ performances.

The interactions & camaderie of the participants throughout their journey are very interesting, showcasing different personalities. Participants are a mixed bag of performers from singers, dancers, actors and even pianist Li Yun Di! The line-up of the participants is also very impressive, including some of whom I am familiar with

  • martial art actors Vincent Zhao & Max Zhang (Ada Choi’s husband)
  • rocker Paul Wong from Beyond’s fame
  • Hong Kong’s actors/ singers including Jordan Chan, Michael Tse, Julian Cheung, Edmond Leong, Jerry Lamb
  • veteran singer Terry Lin Zhi Xuan
  • idol actor Jerry Yan
  • rapper MC Jin

Each episode is about 3 hours, splitting into 2 sub-episodes, with an additional “plus” episode of 45 minutes showcasing more of their interactions. Always looking forward to their performances, the “plus” episodes are always revealing of further tid-bits of each participant.

As established performers, going for reality shows can be quite a scary experience especially many things are not within their control. However, by pushing the boundary with new environment & changes, these could be the stepping stones for breakthrough in their performances. You can almost experience the journey of these artists & performers, learning & accepting new ideas and feel their frustrations and happiness throughout. Totally loving these guys, for their talent, experiences, performances, personalities. And obviously, it helps that some are great eye-candies too! 😀

Mesmerising performance of Great Performer – Yin Zheng, Ricky Rui, Vincent Zhao, Li Xiang

Favourite Songs from Episodes 1 to 5

Throughout the first half of the series ie episode 1 to 5, there are already really great variation of songs performed. Some of these are so good, with great tunes and entertainment values. It is amazing how the team which is barely formed in less than a few days are able to practise & make these songs so unique and great.

Wu Kong 悟空 (Monkey King) performed by Henry Huo, Zhang Qi, Pax Congo (Xiao Bai)

The song is originally the theme song for the animation series Monkey King. The performance is improvised with the inclusion of Chinese opera elements and chants. The opening by Henry Huo is smooth & effortless with the pipa accompaniment, followed by Zhang Qi’s slightly hoarse & rock-style raspy voice and then with Xiao Bai’s boyish charming voice. This song is my favourite thusfar, and elevated Zhang Qi’s standing to the top. He provides a lot of input for the direction of the song, and I believe so did Henry Huo. Zhang Qi spent a lot of time learning the opera to immerse the elements in the performance. Xiao Bai is the main beneficiary, to be able to learn from the two senior artists on mixing songs & even stage presence. Obviously, I need to watch this animation movie to fully immerse myself to appreciate the song! 😀

Yellow of Coldplay performed by Zhang Qi, Henry Huo, James Lee, Nathan Lee

The English song is the team’s first selection as English is James and Nathan’s main language. I believe for Henry and Zhang Qi, singing in English should not be an issue at all. And all 4 of them performed very well indeed. Again, Henry begins with a smooth start, followed by Zhang Qi’s so-apt rocker voice. Both Zhang Qi and Nathan play the guitar, and the feel of the song is really suitable for the group. Engaging & appealing as a band to the greater audience. They maintained the feel of the original song, but with some small variation.

Inspired, the link to a simple piano arrangement below:

Da Yi Shu Jia 大艺术家 (Great Performer) of Jolin Tsai performed by Vincent Zhao, Ricky Rui, Yin Zheng, Li Yun Di, Li Xiang

This particular performance is really amazing, so entertaining as a short skit, theatrical performance, dance & vocal performance. Whatever that you can think of, it is such an eye-catching performance. Almost like the song – can’t take my eyes off you. Vincent Zhao really has stage presence, and he excels in his introduction to the song. This is followed by the rap by Yin Zheng and a smooth singing from Ricky Rui and Li Xiang. Another surprise is Li Yun Di, who commences to rap after his piano performance. This is not just a song performance, this is the total package of entertainment.

Ming Tian Geng Man Chang 明天更漫长 (Tomorrow is a Longer Night) of Dou Wei performed by Chen Hui, Paul Wong, Shawn Huang, MC Jin

This song is the distinctive of rock-song, very well represented with 3 of the artists having background as such. MC Jin did very well, with his part rap part singing. Although the performance is ranked last, I totally enjoyed the rendition and am sure the artists themselves enjoyed themselves very much.  


Throughout the series, so many gems with great talents and even greater personality. But one shines throughout… Zhang Qi.

Although I have heard of Black Panther the rock band, I am still surprised with a new found gem in the form of Zhang Qi, their lead singer. He is a little younger (he is 40) than the other members of Black Panther, but he has a great rocker voice! Totally loving him, and the way that he has managed to tweak his voice to suit the songs he performs with his team. Think Wu Kong and Yellow! OMG, totally nailing the songs to perfection.

Zhang Qi – Great voice, plenty of talent, so suave & cool!

Zhang Qi seems to be a little quieter, does look a little introverted, but happily joins in singing & jamming sessions. He also seems to have a tough start in his career, singing in pubs and doing other gigs to make a living while waiting for a breakthrough, which he finally got in in 2013 upon joining Black Panther. A musician’s life is really a tough nut to crack, and luck really plays an important aspect for a breakthrough. I really do hope that this reality show provides the next stepping stone for Zhang Qi to further enhance his career. So easy to be rooting for the underdog…

Chatting with Zhang Qi

Other Muses

In Episode 5, the elimination process commences with 3 participants ultimately given the boot ie Chen Hui, MC Jin, Liu Duan Duan. It is unexpected (at least for me), and made me extremely sad as I like all 3 of them very much.

All 3 of them volunteered to be eliminated, with Chen Hui the first to do so. He explains that as the team leader, he would like to take responsibility for leading the team to the worst performance. His explanations & parting speech are very inspiring, and shows him as a great leader. I guess that the rocker in him (he is part of a rock band) really wants to take care of the team.

MC Jin is the next to also volunteer to get the boot, and he agrees wholeheartedly to Chen Hui’s explanations to take responsibility as the team lead. Not a rap fan, but I first heard of MC Jin through his performance of Reunion as a duet with Raymond Lam, also the theme song of Flying Tiger TVB Series. MC Jin is actually a very likeable guy as he is friendly to everyone and eloquent in his interaction with various different personalities. He switches from Mandarin, to Cantonese, to English to suit the various artists – very friendly & flexible personality.

Liu Duan Duan also volunteers to exit, mainly to give the last seat to Shawn Huang. He explains that in an earlier performance, Shawn has shown him real concerns for his cold hands, giving him reassurance that he will do well in the performance. It is really very sweet of Liu Duan Duan, and more surprisingly, I have watched him as General Song Huai En in The Rebel Princess series (rebel-princess-2021-c-drama-series-review). I just didn’t recognise him at the beginning! 😀

In some of the performances, including 2 of my favourites (Wu Kong and Yellow), there is a blotted performer, Henry Huo. He withdraws from the reality show upon his ex-girlfriend exposing his condescending & slightly arrogant attitude towards reality show. Henry’s case is really a waste of talent under a stricter censorship (and probably pressure from all stakeholders). I have first heard of him as the composer of Juan Zhu Lian (Raising the Pearl Curtain), loving this composition and many of his other theme songs that he sang for series including Love in Between, General & I, and many others. Sincerely hoping that he will be able to make a comeback in the future, perhaps taking in his experience as part of an enriching journey.

Nathan Lee first caught my attention due to his Chinese accent (spoken with a little bit of sing-song manner), while speaking fluent English & even helping fellow participant James Lee who is less well-versed in Mandarin. He is American-Korean, born and bred in US and started his career in entertainment more than a decade ago. Performance-wise, he is pretty average but he stands out mainly due to his “sunshine” personality. I love how Nathan Lee (who is also their team member but not performing) provides immediate input on the costumes & staging during rehearsal of Wu Kong to Zhang Qi and Xiao Bai. There is also another perspective of him as a husband (to Qi Wei) and father to Lucky, his daughter in the reality show Get Smart Dad.

James Lee, tall & handsome!

James Lee is an American-Korean singer, and his revelation on his freak accident which almost severed his hands is a real shocker. It is also for this reason that he is no longer able to play the guitar or keyboard, resulting in him fading away from the entertainment journey in South Korea. The fact that he joins the reality series shows how he bounces back, and I really hope this will provide him the stepping stones for him to further his love for music. His life experiences provide him a grounding effect, and it is lovely that he is still upbeat and tries his very best in his performances as a musician. Way to go, and a great inspiration for coming back against all odds.

Henry Huo, Nathan Lee, Zhang Qi, Nathan Lee with Coldplay’s Yellow

Another surprise is actually Vincent Zhao. I never knew that he can sing and dance. But his performance in Da Yi Shu Jia is very convincing and totally nailing the feel of that performance! He is also usually very stern & disciplined, but shows a different side of himself when he mixes with the team members. He takes good care of them, always putting safety as a priority (he gives early warning in one of the tag games to ensure his potential attackers will not get hurt), so sweet of him. 

Surprise Vincent Zhao!

On the other hand, Terry Lin got more criticism from audiences that expected. Having been in the circle for so many years, his character does look like the perfectionist type. Such reality show is the bane of all perfectionist – it just highlights the imperfection that is in existence for anyone. However, I thought he does well to try and hope that he doesn’t give up. In many scenes, you can see that he takes extremely good care of his health and voice, always ensuring that it is in tip-top condition. I had goosebump when he fell off the stage, and it is really lucky that he did not hurt himself. He rises up on his own to do the farewell with the other team members, bravo!

Jerry Yan and Zhang Yun Long strikes up a fast friendship at the beginning. My impression of Jerry Yan is that he is a young kid at heart, an introvert, shy and probably insecure as well. Personally, I had always thought that he regrets letting go the chances of being together with Lin Chi Ling (who subsequently married Japanese actor Akira). I love their boy-band performances with the other 3 participants – 2 dancers and Liu Duan Duan. On the other hand, Zhang Yun Long is very articulate and engaging, almost drawing you in with his sweet speech.

The Hong Kong boys are very impressive with their performances too, also audience favourites too. Xiao Bai is also one that caught my attention, obviously with great potentials. At first, I could not recognise Yin Zheng, who plays the role of opera singer Shang Xi Rui of Winter Begonia. He looks familiar and comes across as direct but funny. Another rocker Ricky Rui Qi is also very cool, and loving his voice.  

Zhang Qi with Xiao Bai during training breaks

Not even halfway through, I am already fully drawn & pulled into the reality show, totally loving their antiques, playfulness, frustration, earnest pursuit of their respective arts. When watching the show, the participants truly seem to enjoy themselves, giving really great vibes for audiences. I am looking forward to the rest of the episodes, very enthusiastically & closely waiting for the latest episodes to be broadcasted. Currently on Youtube’s Mango TV, with link included.

Halfway conclusion – what are you waiting for? Watch this, and be totally mesmerised by these talented idols in their daily life, training & performances too. Don’t forget to watch the Plus episodes, as these are the real gems. To be continued…

Link to the next reviews:



An introductory song to all the participants using Ben Xiao Hai, very cute song.


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