Hot Docs Review: China Heavyweight [Yung Chang, Canada, 2012, 89 min]

Fighting is such an interesting topic. The sheer brutality of it already lends itself to high amounts of drama, but often more interesting are the people behind it. The fighters, the trainers, the families – all have multiple things (ego, health, reputation, pride) at stake with each fight. It’s no coincidence that we’ve seen multiple features (Warrior, The Fighter) and multiple documentaries about the sport in the past few years.

China Heavyweight is the follow up effort by Montreal documentary make Yung Chang whose last effort “Up The Yangtze” made him a critical darling. This time, Yung takes us to rural China where we follow the lives of three people – a past champion wanting one last shot, an arrogant young fighter wanting to be Mike Tyson and his best friend, an equally talented fighter who is dealing with. confidence issues. Over the course of the film, we’ll see follow these characters through both success and failure, all against the backdrop of an ever developing China, where anything now seems possible.

Much like his previous effort, China Heavyweight looks absolutely gorgeous. There are beautiful shots of the landscape and cities of the Sichuan province. The experience is fully immersive for the viewer and much of it has to do with the cinematography. The film nicely balances between the three characters the internal and physical conflicts they face. Those looking for some sort of deep metaphor regarding boxing and say, China’s massive modernization might be disappointed. Instead, look at this as an artistic ode to a sport that everyone seem to be both obsessed and appalled by.

China Heavyweight screens:
Thu, May 3 2:00 PM @ TIFF Bell Lightbox 2
Fri, May 4 9:30 PM @ Fox Theatre

Posted on by Ricky in Hot Docs

About Ricky

Britpop lovin Chinaman, consumer of all things irrelevant. Toronto Raptors fan.