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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 »
I saw this movie was produced by the NBA and thought it would be some typically slick merchandising PR, but I was pleasantly surprised. It's not overly thoughtful, but given the fact that it's done by the NBA, it offers a fairly insightful look into the life of Yao Ming and to a great degree his translator, Colin Pine. It tracks them and we get a good look at Yao's dry humor which has revealed itself over his stellar five plus years in the league. We see the crucial role which Pine plays in Yao's first year, perhaps more in helping Yao familiarize himself more culturally with the country. Yao seems to understand a fair amount of English from early on (those of us hoops fans remember his ability to understand spoken questions from reporters) even if he is less confident answering in English (as I can attest is a common occurrence from having taught English in a foreign country) but the cultural adaptations are more pronounced and Pine seems to be a great help to Yao, simply in offering moral support, and quite simply, a friend to a man in a new country. Yao is endlessly patient and puts up with all kinds of celebrity and fawning attention. The people in the basketball organization for which Yao works come across very well, understanding, before the media and many fans did, that Yao could really play. They are very supportive and generous and do what they can to make the big man feel at home. Watching basketball as much as I do, I remember this comradery and watching Yao, realizing that for such a big man, he had a very sensitive touch around the basket and very soft hands which would serve him well in the NBA.
That said, you don't need to know a thing about basketball or Yao Ming in order to enjoy this film. It's essentially the story of a man adapting to some serious culture shock, in the midst of about the brightest klieg light imaginable from the media, and doing it about as gracefully as possible.
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