In central China, a Master coach recruits poor rural teenagers and turns them into Western-style boxing champions. Through hard work and discipline, these boys and girls come of age, trained in the art of boxing and the game of life. They are filled with Olympic dreams, hoping to become China's next amateur heroes. But the pull of professionalism also weighs upon their shoulders. Their coach hopes to show them the way. The top student boxers face dramatic choices as they graduate - should they fight for the collective good as amateurs or for themselves and their own personal gain as professionals? It's a metaphor for the choices that everyone faces now, in the New China. Written by
The Chinese title, Qian Chui Bai Lian, is an old idiom that means "to be tried and tested a thousand times over." See more »
If you make the provincial team, you'll be China's official athletes. You'll be the country's people. Don't train hard and you'll be back home farming. Then you'll be no one but your mum's kid.
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Does Yung Chang's 'China Heavyweight' follow the formula of underdog surpassing all obstacles and winning in the end (as is the case with this genre)? The answer is yes but 'China Heavyweight' still manages to maintain a unique quality. First of all, the four principle characters: Ye, Moxiang, Zhong and Yunfei are unlike anyone one has seen in this kind of film.
They are wonderfully defined and the actors who portray them are cast against type and turn in their finest performance. Both Zhong Zhao and Ye Xinchun are like you've never seen them before and they appear very natural on screen. Zongli He is superly restrained and Yunfei Miao does one of his best works of his entire career. They are supported by a host of impressive actors.
In addition to the marvelous performances, the makeup department has done a remarkable job, especially by making Liming Fan look old enough to play Zongli and Yunfei's mother. Zongli actually does look years older than Yunfei (when in reality he's a year younger) and that just adds more to the authenticity.
From the opening sequence, I was under the impression that 'China Heavyweight' was going to be a documentary-type movie but Yung Chang tricks and surprises the audience with that. His execution is subtle unlike the loud approach which other directors commonly follow.
For me 'China Heavyweight', is more about the human connection than the sports itself. Boxing is clearly a metaphor as is the title which has multiple meanings. Even though he's been constantly let down by his family, Zongli chose to give them a second chance and have them by his side. Even though Yungsuen disapproves Zhong and Dicky's involvement in Ye's career, Dicky attempts to persuade him because he knows that Ye won't stand a chance without him by his side. Even though Zhong and ChunXhi don't see eye to eye, there's a silent acceptance between them as they know that Yunfei needs them both.
I am really beginning to have more respect for Yung Chang for producing gems like this (in addition to some amazing TV-series like 'The Fruit Hunters', 'Up the Yangtze' and 'The Fish Market') and his growth as an actor is obviously apparent (he just needs to avoid tripe like 'Last Train Home' at all costs).
'China Heavyweight' is a winner on various levels.
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