no sport has had a rougher decade than pro-cycling. With most of its recent
champions disgraced by doping scandals, there should at least be opportunities
for young emerging cyclists. Unfortunately, three former teammates cannot all
be champions. However, the sport itself should definitely benefit from the
treatment it gets from Hong Kong action auteur Dante Lam in To the Fore (trailer here), which Magnum Films
just released in New York.
Ming has power. Qiu Tian is a plugger who can climb. Together they are perfectly
matched “lead-outs” who should be able to guide the Taiwanese Team Radiant’s
star Korean sprinter Ji-won to victory. Unfortunately, just when they start
gelling as a team, their sponsor leaves their owner-manager high and dry.
Suddenly free agents, they each sign on as sprinters for competing teams. Ji-won
is already on the verge of advancing to next professional class, but Qiu is physically
unsuited to his new role, while Chiu has trouble controlling his emotions. In
between some spectacularly cinematic races, Chiu and Qiu will also compete for
the affections of Shiyao, a Mainland indoor track racer recovering from a
you enjoy cycling, Lam brings the goods with authority. Although there is no
fighting per se, his action chops still serve the racing sequences remarkably
well. Lam makes it easy to follow the team strategy as it unfolds, while
cinematographer Pakie Chan captures the in-race events with remarkable clarity.
Lam and co-screenwriter Silver Lam Fung also shrewdly vary the competitions, making
their way through the streets of Kaohsiung City, the Italian Alps, a mobbed-up betting
track in Busan, and the Tengger Desert. Naturally, each course has its
Lam and company manage to steer clear of most of the moldiest sports movies clichés.
The interpersonal stuff is still fairly workaday stuff, but Wang Luodan
elevates the material as the reserved but engaging Shiyao. Eddie Peng does his
cocky Taiwanese Tom Cruise thing as Chiu, but it fits the part. Choi Si-won has
the least room to stretch as Ji-won, the Iceman to Peng’s Maverick, but he
certainly has the appropriately cool look. However, Shawn Dou manages to scrape
out a rather impressive character development arc as Qiu.
the Fore is really all about the cycling. Despite the potential
repetitiveness, Lam keeps the energy level cranked up and establishes
meaningful stakes for each and every race. It is a great looking film that
fully capitalizes on its diverse panoramic locales. Recommended for fans of
cycling and sports films in general, To
the Fore is now playing in New York at the AMC Empire.
Labels: Dante Lam, Eddie Peng, Hong Kong Cinema, Sports films, Wang Luodan