China Heavyweight

CHINA HEAVYWEIGHT (Yung Chang, Canada, China). 89 minutes. Rating: NNN

Yung Chang follows his acclaimed Up The Yangtze with another look at changing culture in modern China. Here, a few young men in central China who’ve been recruited by a boxing trainer try to become champions.

It’s your basic underdog structure, and the training sequences are appropriately gritty and gruelling. But the material isn’t well suited to Chang’s moody, sensual aesthetic, which uses long takes and an atmospheric sound mix to build a contemplative space around everything he shoots. When the time comes for China Heavyweight to go all Rocky in a climactic bout, it feels like it’s lurching to life for the first time.

May 2, 9 pm, Bloor Hot Docs Cinema (and simultaneously across Canada in select Cineplex movie theatres) May 3, 2 pm, TIFF Bell Lightbox 2 May 4, 9:30 pm, Fox Theatre.

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