In pur­suit of suc­cess

A film based on Bri­tish skierMichael Ed­wards’ life is com­ing to the Chi­nese main­land, with­Hugh Jack­man as its star draw. Xu Fan re­ports.

China Daily (Canada) - - LIFE -

Bri­tish skier Michael Ed­wards charmed the world at the 1988 Win­ter Olympics in Cal­gary, Canada, with his “heroic fail­ure”. De­spite fin­ish­ing last in two sec­tions of the Games, the ath­lete’s never-say-die at­ti­tude won him many fans.

Now, 28 years later, a biopic in­spired by his leg­endary tale is ready to hit Chi­nese main­land the­aters.

Open­ing on Fri­day, Ed­die the Ea­gle dra­ma­tizes the skier’s un­yield­ing pur­suit to be­come the first in the sport to rep­re­sent his coun­try at the Olympics.

The film shows the many chal­lenges Ed­wards faced, from his age — usu­ally ski jumpers train very young, but he took to the sport as an adult — to money and Bri­tain’s re­luc­tance to send a some­what com­i­cal and less-than-ready skier to rep­re­sent the coun­try in the world’s top sport­ing event.

But the coura­geous ath­lete re­al­ized his dream when he suc­ceeded in land­ing safely af­ter a jump in the 90-me­ter seg­ment.

Ed­wards, 53, showed up at a re­cent Bei­jing event to pro­mote the film and told re­porters that the film “over­whelm­ingly” had things that sym­bol­ize his real life. He had ear­lier told BBC that “only 5 per­cent” of the film was true.

Through the film’s last 10 min­utes, fea­tur­ing his breath­tak­ing leap, he says he has re­lived the clos­est re­al­ity in his mem­ory.

“I can re­mem­ber this more clearly than any­thing else, even if it has been 28 years. Like it hap­pened to me yes­ter­day … It still makes me cry,” he says.

The 105-minute fea­ture stars Bri­tish ac­tor Taron Eger­ton in the ti­tle role and Aus­tralian star Hugh Jack­man as Ed­wards’ un­likely ge­nius coach.

Jack­man, known for his X-Men (2000) film in China, says Ed­wards was a na­tional hero in his youth in Aus­tralia.

“We all love Ed­die and his rep­re­sen­ta­tive spirit of hav­ing a goal and say­ing ‘yes’ to life,” says Jack­man, sit­ting along­side Ed­wards.

For Eger­ton, known to Chi­nese fans from the 2015 hit Kings­man: The Se­cret Ser­vice, the biopic tells “an un­usual sports story”.

“Ed­die lets you feel any­thing pos­si­ble in your life,” he says.

A typ­i­cal op­po­site to Ed­wards in the film, Jack­man’s Bron­son Peary is a for­mer ski jumper whose promis­ing ca­reer takes a down­turn due

is to al­co­holism, and he is left to work as a de­pressed snow­plow driver un­til he meets the ath­lete. Once he be­gins to coach Ed­wards, Peary re­gains his lost con­fi­dence.

De­spite the film’s star at­trac­tion in Jack­man, a ma­jor rea­son for Chi­nese movie­go­ers to visit the the­aters, China’s sports au­thor­i­ties hope the film will lure more lo­cals to par­tic­i­pate in win­ter sports.

Bei­jing and the north­ernChi­nese city Zhangji­akou will jointly host the 2022 Win­ter Olympics.

This year’s Bei­jing In­ter­na­tional Film SportsWeek, an an­nual event to carry on with the 2008 Bei­jing Olympics’ spirit, signed an agree­ment with the biopic’s pro­ducer, 20th Cen­tury Fox, and plans to pro­vide spe­cial screen­ings for pro­fes­sional ath­letes and sports en­thu­si­asts.

Jiang Xiaoyu, deputy head of the Bei­jing Olympic City De­vel­op­ment As­so­ci­a­tion, hopes the film will get more cinema lovers in­ter­ested in win­ter sports, a rise he has been notic­ing since July, when China won the bid to hold the Games.

But in­spi­ra­tional sports films such as Ed­die the Ea­gle might find it dif­fi­cult to crack the box of­fice in a big way, trade an­a­lysts say.

Sim­i­lar films To the Fore, based on cy­clists’ story, and the Amer­i­can biopic Rush, on the real-life tales of two leg­endary For­mula 1 driv­ers, were poorly re­ceived at main­land cin­e­mas ear­lier.

Other than the genre’s weak­ness in draw­ing peo­ple to the cin­e­mas, Ed­die the Ea­gle will face a pow­er­ful ri­val in The Revenant, an­oth­erHol­ly­wood film that will be re­leased on the Chi­nese main­land the same day.

It has Os­car-win­ning ac­tor Leonardo DiCaprio, who has a huge fan base in the world’s se­cond-largest movie mar­ket.

We all love Ed­die and his rep­re­sen­ta­tive spirit of hav­ing a goal and say­ing ‘yes’ to life.”

Con­tact the writer at xu­fan@chi­nadaily.com.cn

PRO­VIDED TO CHINA DAILY

Ed­di­etheEa­gle, star­ring Taron Eger­ton (above), is set to lure Chi­nese au­di­ences who have in­creas­ing in­ter­est in win­ter sports.

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