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Leo Wu and Dilraba Dilmurat of The Long Ballad: A Surprised Romantic Match-Up to C-Drama Fans


Leo Wu (Wu Lei) and Dilraba Dilmurat, two of China's A-list celebrities, collaborated for the first time in The Long Ballad, which was originally streamed in Tencent video in 2021.

However, the drama was overshadowed by a series of controversies, plus the accusation of some fans towards Tencent's lackluster style in marketing and promotion.

Even before the series were aired in March 2021, criticism surfaced about the two main leads' age gap. Leo, who is seven years younger than Dilraba, has not been into mature roles, and at 20 during the drama filming, he seemed too young to take the role of a cold tribal general of the Ashile tribe.

They also had no previous drama collaboration, except in 2017 when they did a photoshoot for Bazaar magazine and short film, Lost in Your Eyes. 

While Dilraba had been on several drama kissing male co-stars, Leo's image among C-drama fans is still of that of a "nation's little brother.

He rose to unprecedented popularity when he starred in the massively popular, Nirvana in Fire, as Fei Liu, in 2015. But he has always been a cute little boy to the memory of most C-Drama fans.

As Fei Liu in Nirvana in Fire

Thus, being paired to Dilraba Dilmurat, was some sort of a troubling anticipation on some viewers' stereotype mind. Their seven year-age gap is always the sticking point to some traditional C-Drama fans who seem not prepared to accept older women falling in love with younger men. 

 Surprisingly, these two surprising romantic match-up proved those doubters wrong. Not only that he best suited for the role of Ashile Sun (Oh, those side shot angles that highlighted Wu Lei's sexy and irresistible eyes) but also he displayed a strong romantic chemistry with Dilireba. 

Scenes in The Long Ballad

How would we know that the two leads have strong chemistry?

Having strong chemistry among two main leads in a drama is like defining the essence of having an "x-factor" thing. It cannot be foretold, unless they are seen together in the screenplay.

Scenes in The Long Ballad

Strong chemistry is mostly defined as the "rapport with the right flavor" between the two stars. It is the ability of a man and a woman to connect with each other, conveying credible emotions to the viewers. In other words, they have the ability to capture viewers' fantasy with the romance they performed on-screen.

They can establish a realistic bond, and capture sympathy among the audience. They can illicit giggles and set the stage of establishing strong emotions from the audience. Their romantic scenes have strong impact and massive recall to the viewers' mind.

Strong impact means, viewers feel engrossed on the scenes when the two stars made eye-to-eye contact  or share hug or kiss.

There's something between them that we want to see more, that we want to know more. And we become so fully blown up with every scene they engaged in the drama. That's how strong chemistry is defined.

It's very rare. We have watched so many series, some pairs are unforgettable, but there are pairs that just would not hit up. No impact with the romance they portrayed on-screen. No intense interest to follow them because viewers could not feel any romantic bond.

But alas! With Dilraba and Leo, it was totally different. 

They just hit it off. And caught us by surprise! Their rapport on-screen is so cute that we want to see more about them, about their team-up on screen.  

Watching Ashile Sun and Changge fell in love in The Long Ballad is like filling our own empty love story with roses and magic. We could feel the warmth of their emotions, we could feel the effect of their staring. There was simply an unmistakable passion burning between their actions to love each other.

Watching Ashile Sun hugged Li Changge, we no longer remember Leo being seven years younger than Dilraba. We just saw the sweet romance of two persons falling in love. And we are totally engrossed with the feeling of seeing them together more. That's chemistry.

The romance between Ashile Sun and Changge feels like a potpouri in the grassland atmosphere, swirling around the prairie like the sweet aroma of the early spring. Like a warmth of the first sunrise And we are totally drawn with its dreamy scent and bewitching spark. 

And we want more. 

Chemistry can never be foretold. It should be tried first on-screen to see if the couple have what it takes to be romantic. It's what-you-see-what-you-get sort of thing. 

And when it does, you will know the warmth lasts even after the drama is gone. That's chemistry.

Leo finally outgrown his "nation's little brother" image. He has evolved. He has matured. He is a fully-grown up charming leading man who can independently carry a big drama on his own. 

He is now taller than Fei Liu of course, and his muscles are drop-dead gorgeous. He developed a broader shoulder, a well-toned chest, well-developed legs muscles (because he is a biker) and athletic physique. And of course, those sexy eyes.

Even Reba was surprised with Leo's development.

Bazaar photoshoot, September 2017

In the interview in April 2021, Dilraba said she was surprised how Leo became so grown-up barely three years after they did the Bazaar photoshoot in 2017.

She was also impressed with his sense of maturity and gentleness during the filming of TLB. She began looking at him, not as a younger brother, but an older brother who could protect her and make her feel safe and secure.

Reba praising Leo's "boyfriend" material

Dilraba has been very vocal with her opinion about Leo in a personal capacity. She said that he can be a great boyfriend material and that his future girlfriend will be very lucky to have him. He is mature, very caring guy who always makes sure the girl is safe and protected.

During the filming, Leo always asked her if she is okay or if she got injured every after take of the scenes. Judging from Dilraba's words about him, Leo seems a perfect guy who can make her weak in the knees. Reba seems looking for someone who can give her assurance of protection and security.

Leo Wu and Vic Chou

It looks like there are only two actors she paired in the series whom Dilireba like so much as leading men. Vic Chou, her co-star in The Flame's Daughter.

With Vic Chou in The Flame's Daughter

She also revealed that among the actors she ever paired in a series, it was only Leo, apart from Vic Chou (her co-star in The Flame's Daughter) who had not complained carrying her. Vic Chou also did some spinning scenes carrying her in The Flame's Daughter.

But it was only Leo who never said she was heavy to carry according to Reba. Even though she thought she was really heavy because she gained weight during the filming of TLB in 2020.

Scenes in The Long Ballad

By the time the interview happened in April, Reba was done filming You Are My Glory and doing The Blue Whisper.

In the same live streaming in April in which they both guested, Leo also insisted Reba was not heavy and because he is taller than her, it was easier to carry her around. 

He also revealed he was very nervous when they did the rooftop scene (where he capped Reba's head) and the falling scene where he had to catch Reba. He was afraid Reba might get hurt if he could not catch her properly because she was wearing a metal gear from the harness and it might bury in her body.

Such a charming man who always makes sure his co-star is safe and protected. No wonder, Reba was all praises on his chivalry and gentleness. Indeed, a great potential boyfriend. 

What in store for Leo and Dilraba

A lot of clamor from TLB fans to pair them once again. We too, are fervently hoping they could work again in another drama because their rapport and on-screen chemistry is so warm and sweet. They could light up a whole street with the sparks brought by their warmth and harmony. 

They are simply lovely to look at the screen. No need for test-screen. There's an invisible affection pulling them together. And we want to see this light up in the screen once more.

We're hoping something will be announced this year about a new collaboration.

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