Today (by which I mean Friday) marks the official premiere of director Yung Chang’s documentary China Heavyweight in New York. Far be it from me to tell you New Yorkers how to spend your Friday evening, but this movie looks like it’s worth your time. (There are two more showings today at IFC Center, at 7:25 pm and 9:40 pm.) It’s by the same company that made Last Train Home (though not the same director), a film that I’ve seen no fewer than four times while writing a 40-page amanuensis (preview). Director Yung appears to have found the perfect tale: an underdog story set to the backdrop of sacrifice, hard work, hope, perseverance, etc. Those words may seem recycled and meaningless, but watch the preview. And here’s the synopsis from Sundance, where the film was shown, earlier this year:
In southwestern China, state athletic coaches scour the countryside to recruit poor, rural teenagers who demonstrate a natural ability to throw a good punch. Moved into boxing training centers, these boys and girls undergo a rigorous regimen that grooms them to be China’s next Olympic heroes but also prepares them for life outside the ring. As these young boxers develop, the allure of turning professional for personal gain and glory competes with the main philosophy behind their training—to represent their country.
With the endorsements this movie has already gotten, including from the eminent James Fallows, we can assume you’ll be hearing a lot more about it soon.
And now we wait… for it to arrive in China in the form of a bootleg DVD. No spoilers, please.
UPDATE, 11/28, 7:49 pm: The film won Best Documentary at the prestigious Golden Horse Film Festival.