Archives / 2012 Sundance Film Festival

China Heavyweight

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Director: Yung Chang

Screenwriters: Yung Chang

Institute History

Description

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. Interconnected with their story is that of their charismatic coach, Qi Moxiang, who—now in his late thirties and determined to win back lost honor—trains for a significant fight.

China Heavyweight artfully captures the playfulness among the trainees, their grueling conditioning, and the guiding principle that athletic achievement is for their country, rather than themselves. Director Yung Chang returns to the Sundance Film Festival (Up the Yangtze screened in 2008) with an intimately observed film that both explores and reflects social change and development in modern China.

— K.Y.

Screening Details

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