Despite facing the odds against cultural and language barriers, the pressure of representing a nation of 1.2 billion, as well as facing Shaquille O'Neal, the NBA's most dominant player, 7ft... See full summary »
Despite facing the odds against cultural and language barriers, the pressure of representing a nation of 1.2 billion, as well as facing Shaquille O'Neal, the NBA's most dominant player, 7ft 6in Chinese basketball phenom Yao Ming succeeds in his first year in the NBA by finding friendship and support in his American translator, strength in the wisdom of his traditional Chinese values, and confidence in his own abilities. Through it all, Yao Ming became the most recognizable figure from China since Mao Tse Tung and a hero to millions around the globe. Written by
Although during the film it is stated repeatedly that Yao Ming is 7'5" tall, in actuality Yao is 7'6" tall. The 7'5" height stems from the fact that he was not measured until he arrived in the US in October of 2002. So he was listed at the 7'5" height, from an old measurement. By the time Yao arrived in the US and was measured at 7'6", he had already been listed in all media at 7'5". Thusly people always referred to Yao as being 7'5". His height has since been updated in all media to the correct 7'6", but nonetheless in the film he is referred to as being 7'5". See more »
Beginning with his June 2002 selection as first-round draft pick by the Houston Rockets, Yao, then 22, finds himself shoved into the international spotlight. Back home, Chinese fans (and, of course, image-conscious bureaucrats) are eager for their homeboy to honorably represent all 1.2 billion of his countrymen. In the States, however, more than a few observers, including sports commentator and ex-Rocket Charles Barkley, cynically question whether the big guy can play the NBA version of the game. For a distressingly long period during Prue- and early season games, Yao lives down to worst expectations as he struggles to find a comfort zone with new teammates. Indeed, his early efforts to play "American-style" (i.e., trash-talking, in your-face aggressive) are so wobbly that the notoriously voluble Barkley impulsively promises to kiss the backside of a fellow TNT cable network commentator if Yao ever has a 19-point game. To his credit, Barkley fulfills his end of the bargain after Yao finally catches on. Despite his extremely limited command of English, Yao emerges as immensely engaging in his dogged determination and self-mocking humor. Pic stops well short of offering deep-dish psychological insights, but strongly suggests Yao's disciplined upbringing by proud parents (who accompany him to Houston) and his own self-directed work ethic give him strength to perform gracefully under pressures. Yao even maintains his cool during much-hyped match-ups with then-L.A. Laker Shaquille O'Neal, the game's dominant big center. Without stinting on sports action and talking-heads commentary. Everyone from Bill Clinton to Yahoo! co-founder Jerry Yang get to weigh in with comments on Yao. Filmmakers smartly focus on symbiotic relationship between Yao and another rookie: Colin Pine, a Mandarin-conversant Baltimore native who was ready to attend law school when offered the opportunity to work as Yao's translator. Early on, the affable, faintly nerdy-looking Pine admits he's not a sports expert: "Chinese was my second language, basketball was my third." Scenes showing how Pine faces own challenges while helping Yao cope with the stresses of an NBA career (and extracurricular activities such as commercial endorsements) are the compelling heart and soul of the pica. In funniest scenes, Pine introduces Yao to Taco Bell. Which the basket baller finds less than satisfying and explains the concept of road rage while driving Houston highways.
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