Wang Kaihao

China Daily (Canada) - - FRONT PAGE -

Known world­wide as the King­dom of Bi­cy­cles, China has been un­nat­u­rally re­luc­tant to show­case cy­cling onits sil­ver screen— un­til­now.

To the Fore, which pre­mieres on Thurs­day, pro­motes the sport’s strong roots in Chi­nese peo­ple’s ev­ery­day lives and its in­creas­ing pop­u­lar­ity among out­doors en­thu­si­asts.

The star-stud­ded cast in­cludes Ed­die Peng, DouXiao andWang Luo­dan.

Choi Si-won, a South Korean ac­tor and also a mem­ber of boy band Su­per Ju­nior, was also in­vited to play a ma­jor role, thanks to his pop­u­lar­ity in China.

“I’ve been pre­par­ing for this film for 15 years,” says Hong Kong di­rec­tor Dante Lam, who spoke about the movie at a news con­fer­ence on Sun­day.

“Well, I wanted to be the lead­ing ac­tor at that time,” says the 50-year-old, who’s also a cy­cling fan. “But it’s bet­ter for me to be a di­rec­tor now.”

Nev­er­the­less, the ac­tu­al­iza­tion of the film ap­pears to be based on more than a per­sonal vi­sion.

“ForChi­nese peo­ple, bi­cy­cles rep­re­sent sweet mem­o­ries, hap­pi­ness and even lone­li­ness in child­hood,” Lam says. He ex­pects the film will easily res­onate with Chi­nese main­land au­di­ences.

The film de­picts sev­eral cy­clists’ painstak­ing growth from am­a­teurs to pro­fes­sional ath­letes.

“We won’t boast about in­di­vid­ual hero­ism. Esprit de corps is greatly needed for to­day’s young peo­ple,” the di­rec­tor says, adding it is un­fair to only re­mem­ber the award win­ners.

So is this a film with more youth energy and typ­i­cal Chi­nese char­ac­ter­is­tics? That’s part of the buzz.

Like many youth films in re­cent years, a soap-op­er­a­like love tri­an­gle is also part of the plot.

How­ever, af­ter a tiny sip of the cliched ro­mance, the sto­ry­line gives way to the main theme: young peo­ple pur­su­ing their dreams.

“Youth films do not nec­es­sar­ily have to in­clude con­tentious top­ics,” Lam says, adding that he hopes the film will en­cour­age the coun­try’s film­mak­ers who ap­pear to be more ea­ger to pur­sue lu­cra­tive pro­duc­tions.

Af­ter all, all those work­ing on the film rode more than 110,000 kilo­me­ters in to­tal and no stunt dou­bles were used for the ma­jor roles dur­ing the shoot­ing.

The crew’s per­sis­tence sounds like a real-life marathon vic­tory.

“Sports films con­tain a lot of pos­i­tive energy. It’s a pity Chi­nese-lan­guage cin­ema lacks very suc­cess­ful ex­am­ples. Let’s come back to tell a story hail­ing those strong spir­its,” the di­rec­tor says.

Un­for­tu­nately, although in­spi­ra­tional sports films spo­rad­i­cally come out of Hol­ly­wood, such lo­cally made films are sel­dom seen in Chi­nese the­aters.

The only thing close: Some of­fi­cially made pro­duc­tions that are warm-ups for ma­jor sports events.

Zhou Tiedong, Novo United Films’ pres­i­dent, said at a seminar on sports film in Bei­jing last month that the only ubiq­ui­tously con­sid­ered clas­sic in Chi­nese sports-film history prob­a­bly is 1958’sWo­manBas­ket­ball Player No 5.

“That is mainly be­cause the Chi­nese public still con­sid­ers sports to be ath­letes’ busi­ness, not part of their own lifestyles,” says Zhou.

He adds that sports flicks’ sto­ry­lines can re­quire a rel­a­tively long prepa­ra­tion time, which is a ma­jor hur­dle for film­mak­ers.

Nev­er­the­less, He Wen­jin, a film dis­trib­u­tor from China

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