The Long Ballad (2021) Summary and Review


One of the best Asian drama to ever shown in 2021, The Long Ballad is a 2021 Chinese historical drama based on the manhua series, "Chang Ge Xing", created by artist, Xia Da. It was directed by Zhu Ruibin and starred Dilraba Dilmurat and Leo Wu (known as Wu Lei in Chinese).

Dilraba and Wu Lei in The Long Ballad

Plot Summary:

Sets in the year 623 imperial China during the start of the Tang dynasty, it follows the story of Li Changge, a Tang dynasty princess, daughter of the Crown Prince, who escapes from the Xuanwu gate massacre that killed her entire family.

She moves to Youzhou to seek military support from her father's remaining loyalists for her plan to extract revenge against her uncle, Li Shimin, who replaces her father as the new Crown Prince. Along her journey, she encounters Ashile Sun, the handsome tribal prince who heads the most elite cavalry division of the Ashile tribe, a powerful nomadic royalty from the grassland that had been waging war against the Tang empire. Ashile Sun camouflages as a traveling merchant, A'Zhun, to spy on the military activities of the Tang army in key cities. While Changge hides her identity and disguises as a man, Li Shishi, to make good of her plans of revenge.

After bumping each other on numerous occasions, and with A'Zhun saving Li Shishi from the claws of her enemies a couple of times, they eventually become friends. But a devastating war in Shouzhou, where Changge leads the governor's troops, forces the city's surrender to the Ashile tribe. Then the bomb. Li Shishi discovers that her friend, A'Zhun, is an enemy who leads the army that crashes Shouzhou. However, Ashile Sun slowly develops feelings for Li Changge on many of their encounters, intrigued with her unique bravery and war craft skills, he decided to take her as a slave to keep her safe from the wrath of the people in Shouzhou.

They slowly fall in love. But due to circumstances, they would hide their respective emotions to head on the mission of defending their clans. As Li Shimin becomes Emperor Taizong, the empire marches toward the battlefield with the Ashile faction. Changge and Ashile Sun are thrown intp the center of the chaos as they struggle to draw a separate line between their blossoming romance and their loyalty to their families. Gradually, their opposing loyalty gave them many heartbreaking moments as they need to stand firm with their principles to defend their clas. As inconveniences surmount, Ashile Sun and Changge must decide whether to embrace the reality of being on the opposing sides or fight for their feelings.

Dilireba as Li Changge and Wu Lei as Ashile Sun
Wu Lei and Dilraba, in The Long Ballad


The Long Ballad evokes courage, sense of patriotism, loyalty, and wisdom. Although marketed as a historical romance, we rarely saw the romance side throughout the series between the two main leads, but it was a slow-burnt romance we supposed. 

And that's okay. It was done beautifully. It made the viewers crave more about Ashile Sun (Wu Lei) and Li Changge's (Dilraba) encounter, which made this series pretty interesting.

Li Changge shows some level of depth and growth in her character. She was introduced as a feisty princess who loved to mess up with horses, but she had clearly shown what's important to her.

In the course of her journey when her entire family was slaughtered, she was forced to learn the principles of survival while developing her sense of revenge, but it is also the same path of loyalty that made her appreciate the important things ahead of her.

She takes many dangerous adventures and endures tons of sufferings, and always on the brink of death, but she rises above all the tribulations to seek justice for her slain family. And in the passing of time, fighting for justice and peace in the realm.

Her very strong demeanor is highly impressive. However, in the end, it's the love and desire for a peaceful life that ultimately healed her and gave her a sense of purpose. 

Ashile Sun is one of the best drama character heroes we've seen in recent years. He exudes a sense of fairness in the world where the only way to survive is to fight the oppressors. He is a strong character with unbending principles to uphold peace and justice.

It's so amazing how he becomes Li Changge's "knight in the shining armor" despite knowing they come from the opposing clans.

At one point, he admitted, he and Changge might never be together due to clashing principles. And at many points, he tried suppressing his feelings, but well, love wins!

He finally yielded what he felt. And confronted himself if he would just allow it to be wasted or fight for the woman he loved.

Behind the scene

Despite their strong patriotic instincts to defend their clans, Ashile Sun and Changge chose to fight for their feelings, which at first resulted to many heartbreaking moments. In the end, they chose love over power ambition.

The progress of the primary characters is so amazing. And how the characters let go of their personal grievances, and how they reconcile with families and live in peace is fascinating. Logic is clear and the flow of events remains loyal to the material of the story.

The Long Ballad strongly emphasizes the value of women in the society, the potential and strength that women could possibly possessed to change the world. And the value of mothers in the heart of warriors - like the relationship of Ashile Sun to his mother.

There are tons of great wisdom imparted by this series to the viewers. Reconciliation, forgiveness, willingness to change, the value of peace, everyone's strong desire for freedom. And our personal fight for that one great love.

But as with most series and films, there are misgivings in this drama. 

This is a very good material story that has potentials to become a classic historical series, however, it looks like scenes are forcefully compressed in just 49 episodes when it could have been broaden. As a result, per episode looks like done in rush.

We don't like also the editing of the series. The integration of anime is just so poor in today's drama standard. I mean why using such  comics material in a series when the production could choose to shoot the actual scene?

It sabotaged the exciting experience of watching this beautiful drama, putting the series in such a bad light. 

Despite some disappointment on the finale, we're satisfied with the fact that our hot couple finally finds peace and healing they have been desired. 

Overall, The Long Ballad is a beautiful C-drama to emerge in 2021. Tight plot, coherent flow of scenes, not dragging, and there's no complex subplots, it's very straightforward and fast-paced. And it has fight scenes that are exciting to watch. 

We love how each episode is presented, there's always thrill because every scene has something exciting to offer and reveal. 

We also love the wisdom this series imparted. So many realization and lessons to learn. The message of peace and forgiveness, redemption and acceptance. And a true love worthy to die for.

We also love how the primary characters wrapped up. Complex personal issues are resolved satisfyingly. Ashile She'r, has his atonement and recognizes Sun's strong leadership, and desire for peace.

No major tragic losses for our beloved casts, except for Mimi Guli who died defending Changge, however in the original manhua her character really needed to die. So the series remains loyal to the original material. 

The Long Ballad is such a fascinating historical drama. Very worthy of our time. it has 49 episodes with each full episode running for 45 minutes.

In many review sites, viewers gave it a rating of 9.5 in the scale of 10. And the primary casts' performances with perfect 10. 

I would rate it 9.6 (because finale episode is hanging) but perfect 10 for lead characters. Dilraba Dilmurat and Leo Wu really did an incredible job. They also have strong chemistry. 

I was easily drawn to their on-screen romance even at the very start of the episode. Wu Lei has the most expressive eyes, the sexier stares, I've ever seen among C-Drama actors, and he used it to its full scale in the Long Ballad. 

It was so sweet and romantic the way he stared at Li Changge. Even the way he looked at Dilraba in real life. Wu Lei's eyes are full of romance and care 💕

But you can watch the full episode for free in YouTube through China Huace TV channel. LINK HERE

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