Award-winning filmmaker Yung Chang drew praise for 2007’s Up the Yangtze, which focused on the many socioeconomically disadvantaged people impacted by the building of the massive Three Gorges Dam in Hubei. With his latest movie, he returns to China for another unexpectedly lyrical snapshot of that country’s rapidly changing economic landscape. A nonfiction look at the recruitment and training of young boxers for future hopeful Olympic glory, China Heavyweight is an unadorned, guileless work that starts slowly but accrues a deeper emotional hold and resonance as it winds on. In not dissimilar fashion from the recent Pelotero: Ballplayer, a documentary which examined teenage baseball prospects in the Dominican Republic, Chang’s film illustrates how sports are still one of the most widely pursued avenues out of outright familial poverty or working-class despair. China Heavyweight opens this week in Los Angeles at the Laemmle Music Hall and the Laemmle Playhouse 7. For the full, original review, from ShockYa, click here. (Zeitgeist, unrated, 94 minutes)
For my latest Blu-ray/DVD column, over at ShockYa, I explain what’s lacking in Morgan Spurlock‘s Comic-Con documentary, plus take a gander the Cartoon Network’s Adventure Time, David Arquette’s Black Limousine, an intriguing pair of foreign film releases, and more. Again, it’s all over at ShockYa, so click here for the full read.