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I’m not the biggest fan of sports documentaries, but you throw Western boxing into the middle of nowheresville China, and a bunch of poor kids trying to make it, and suddenly it’s the most interesting thing in the world. Or at least, more interesting than if it didn’t have those two elements. Yung Chang’s “China Heavyweight” is opening in limited release this July, then continuing around the States throughout the year. Until then, check out the trailer.
Award-winning filmmaker Yung Chang (Up the Yangtze) returns to China for another riveting documentary on that country’s ever-changing economic landscape—this time through the lens of sports. In China Heavyweight, Chang follows the charismatic Qi Moxiang, a former boxing star and state coach who recruits young fighting talent from the impoverished farms and villages across Sichuan province. A select few boys (and girls) are sent to national training centers, with the hope of discovering China’s next Olympic heroes. But will these potential boxing champions leave it all behind to be the next Mike Tyson? Their rigorous training, teenage trials and family tribulations are expertly intertwined with Coach Qi’s own desire to get back in the ring for one more shot at victory. Cinematically rich and intimately observed, China Heavyweight is all at once thrilling sports drama, astute social commentary and a beautifully crafted portrait of an athlete.
This is a documentary, and one from China at that, so there is no “starring” roles here. The film’s biggest name is its director, Yung Chang.
Head over to Zeitgeist Films for a full list of dates and locations where you can catch the film in case it shows up at a city near you.