Braving Life (2022) 我们的滚烫人生  : Reality Show Review

A spin-off from Call Me By Fire, the reality series explores the various profession whereby the selected participants spend 3 to 4 days to experience the daily life of these professions. Each experience in a profession is joined by 7 to 8 participants. At the end of the experience, there will usually be an open concert for the enjoyment of the professionals and their loved ones.

Episode 1 – 3 explores the first profession of firefighting, and what a blast the experience is. Participants include Jordan Chan, Julian Cheung, Max Zhang, Kido Gao, Bai Ju Gang (Xiao Bai), Zhang Qi, Nathan Lee Cheng Xuan and Li Xiang.

It is quite amazing the participants go through not only the daily exercises but also actual simulation of saving victims in a fire-born warehouse. Not only are they in full safety gear, they are tasked to save a dummy inside the warehouse within a specific time as well. Not an easy task especially in such heavy-duty equipment and especially if you are terrified of fire. The physical requirements on the participants are actually very taxing, as the need to be fit in order to be able to rescue people is important.  

Prepping to go into the warehouse on fire

The few episodes are actually motivating in different manner. First providing reminders on fire safety in daily life eg not to charge battery of bike indoor, cutting off oxygen in pan catching fire in the kitchen etc. The camaderie of the artists and the professionals are also nice to see. The stories shared by the firefighters are their real-life experiences, and the sacrifices are all worth it solely for the safety of others.

What also attracted me is the location of the firefighting station in Urumqi, which is surrounded by beautiful mountains with snow tips. Hence, the modern buildings in total contrast with the beautiful natural background. Totally captivating.

Subsequent episode 4 – 5 brings the entourage to a rural mountainous area to experience teaching. Participants include Jordan Chan, Julian Cheung, Max Zhang, Kido Gao, Xiao Bai, Zhang Qi and Zhang Yun Long. Teaching in rural area, whereby children stay in the dormitory-style school, is probably very different from teaching in the city and even suburbs. And the scenery of the mountain areas is very beautiful. Nature at its best.

The views en-route to the village for our teachers

Children are very innocent, and the younger ones especially give major headache to the 4 teachers – Jordan Chan, Julian Cheung, Zhang Qi and Zhang Yun Long. The whole class turns upside down, and it is quite apparent they are unable to control the class well. It is also quite telling that all four did not have a lot of experience dealing with young children ie to catch their attention & apply routine to discipline them. However, I must say I am very impressed with Zhang Qi’s perseverance and his proactive initiatives to obtain advice from experienced people on how to best manage the situation. It is also quite apparent that he loves children, and even ask the wife whether they can spend some time in rural schools to teach. When the school teachers requested for him to compose a school song, he is so excited to do so. Passion is not something that you can simply extinguish from an individual.

Extremely noisy kids everywhere!

Comparatively, Max, Kido and Xiao Bai have an easier time to manage older students who can listen to instructions. Max also comes prepared with gifts for the children, with help from wife and kids in choosing the gifts. Very nice gesture.  

It is also very motivating to hear how passion drives the teachers sacrificing their own personal time as the job is a 24/7 with little time to get off. However, when you hear the children reciting their ambitions, you can’t take away the pride of a teacher – imparting knowledge and motivating them to dream and strive for their move forward.

I also love the idea that the teachers bring the kids for a day out in an amusement park. They also did not waste time to also impart some key advices to children to never ever trust strangers. I love the fact that some of the children are so innocent to offer help without any thoughts to their own safety. Actually, it is quite sad to see how the society has changed so much that we need a reality series to remind the children not to provide help without certain safety put in place eg getting attention of an adult, ensuring their whereabout is always known.

Very innocent kids helping the needy

Episode 6 – 8 explores the profession in the airline industry – pilot and steward. Upon assessment, participants Nathan Lee, Kido Gao and Zhang Qi are put in the pilot program while the rest – Jordan Chan, Max Zhang, Ricky Rui & Hu Hai Quan are put in the steward program.

It is quite funny how Jordan Chan sounds so dejected when he is put in the steward program instead of the pilot program, especially since his wife specifically asks him to be a pilot. 😀 However, after watching the series, I actually have new-found respect for the stewards and stewardesses, especially in managing special rescue situations. Communication skills in providing clear orders and firm but stern reminders to control (panicking) crowd are not something that can be easily learnt. Max Zhang actually does very well in this, ensuring all the orders are executed and shows the importance that he places on responsibility.

As for the pilot program, the key take-away is the technical capabilities are obviously something pilots are tasked with. But the golden key is a persevering state of calm in managing crisis, especially in a plane up in the air whereby hundreds of lives are in your hand. Given the situation, I would think I want Nathan Lee to be my pilot (compared with Kido Gao or Zhang Qi). 😀   

Stewards hard at work

Episode 9 – 10 explores the law, whereby participants join these legal counsels to provide legal aids to less fortunate people with their daily legal entanglement. Participants include Jordan Chan, Julian Cheung, Max Zhang, Xiao Bai, Zhang Qi, Nathan Lee and Hu Hai Quan.

I have to say I actually enjoyed the “trick” questions at the beginning which provides scenario to participants asking them on their judgment of whether legally these scenarios are right or wrong. Questions on – wife’s share of the husband’s income, who to save if mother and girlfriend/ wife falls into the river, collecting loans given a long time ago etc. Some of the answers from the legal perspective actually surprises me. My key take-away – legal requirements are principle-based but there is application of specific human values which may open up different interpretations. Hence, I would not be surprised that the law actually benefits the rich & powerful more than your average person.  

Tricky legal questions

However, what these legal counsels are doing to provide legal aids & advices are very commendable. Not very different from non-government organisations providing aids to needful people. To be in this line is not an easy task, there will be daily emotional high and down, frustration at the behaviour of people, perseverance of the long winding administrative route to take legal action.

Xiao Bai is quite the smart & intelligent young guy who is able to solve the issues and identify the right path. But it is Zhang Qi again who has time and again, shown a very deeply emotional attachment for him to feel so much griefs and happiness for the person seeking help. Nathan Lee has set himself clear principles, and his own questioning on how can he help someone when he does not believe in the person – is a real dilemma many people come across. And he is not very good at hiding as his facial expression already show that he does not believe it. Will be difficult for him to be a blank expression-looking lawyer.

Concert for lawyers!

Episode 11 with 3 parts gives loads of excitement to showcase the profession of police, specifically the special task force. Participants include Jordan Chan, Julian Cheung, Max Zhang, Kido Gao, Zhang Qi, Ricky Rui, Vincent Zhao and Zhang Yun Long.

Their adventure for these participants to try to hide away from the special force is a nice concept for the reality show. As each of the individual find their own hideout, it is really not easy. Zhang Yun Long and even Zhang Qi tried to impersonate the videographers. Worked for a while for Zhang Yun Long, and a little longer for Zhang Qi, but got caught anyway. Julian Cheung is the last to be caught, as he found a covered hole to hide. He is actually a very observant person, and he specifically told the nearby staff not to stand around to raise suspicion. 😀

The physical training is quite taxing. Vincent Zhao is obviously a competitive person as he challenges one of the officers to compete. Although he lost, it is really cute to see the need to compete even in a reality show.

The concert at the end is very nice, which provides a platform for one of the officers to propose to his girlfriend, a gratitude to all officers and also their family members who have sacrificed their time with their loved ones. And of course, the songs selected are actually very well-selected, showcasing the right song with very majestic tempo. 

Episode 12 showcases traffic police profession, also with 3 parts. The introduction to the various traffic rules suddenly reminds me whether I could actually pass the theory exams for driving 😀 The safety videos on the various traffic accidents provides observations on how to manage safety for road users and how to educate the users as well. Participants include Jordan Chan, Julian Cheung, Max Zhang, Xiao Bai, Zhang Qi, Hu Hai Quan, Vincent Zhao and Nathan Lee.

As traffic police deals with road users a lot, the danger is actually more. The method employed to manage potential aggressive road users and drunk driver are quite diverse but focused mainly on maintaining order & ensuring the road users follow instructions. One comment from the traffic police is quite sad when he is accused of not being police by a mother speaking to her child, even though traffic police is professionally trained.

The concert at the end is very nice. Not many songs, but songs are my favourites – ping dan zi lu and wu ming zhi bei. Being the last episode, each profession’s chiefs from fireman, pilot and lawyer joined them. Really quite sad to be watching the last episode.

Conclusion 9/10

Personally, I find the reality series informative, inspiring and motivating. Informative on the kind of work & training these professionals go through. Inspiring on the lifestyle & personal sacrifices these professionals undertake to provide services to the public. Motivating to find such passionate people about their own profession, and their love of their profession. I wonder if ever they could do an episode with the more mundane professions such as banker and accountant. 😀 

Of course, it is also extremely entertaining to see how these male artists “braving life” in these professions. In their midst of the experiences, each of them also show their individuality and attitude in life. As I watch these reality show more, I can appreciate why Jordan Chan is popular with the public. He is an ordinary guy, not so bright not so strong, even lacking a little in communication, but extremely loyal to his brothers. One more great trait of his – he tries the hardest without much complaints regardless of the situation. The exercises & simulations in some of the professions (eg firefighting & police special squads) are actually extremely physically taxing. At the age above 50, he still does all of them without much complaint and even offering to help out others too. Perhaps his popularity is precisely because he represents the righteous average Joe that anyone would like to be.

Max Zhang, on the other hand, continues to show his leadership – keen observation, empathetic, ability to judge, highly responsible and dependable. Zhang Qi also surprises me in so many levels especially in his commitments & deep respect for all the professions. His love for children & his deep empathy for people are clear for people to observe.  

But my main key take-away, each profession is special in its own right. Life is very practical and down to earth, we need to earn money for daily living. It would be great to be doing something that we are passionate about on a daily basis and earn money thereof. If we are not able to, it does not stop us from still maintaining a job and pursuing our interest outside. It also does not mean that we can’t fall in love with the very job that we take on. The concept of ikigai is something I believe in – do the best in everything you attempt and leave the rest to fate.

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