ONE SECOND CHAMPION (一秒拳王) (DISNEY+) (2021)
SYNOPSIS: Tin Yen was born with a superpower of foreseeing one second ahead, but it didn’t bring him any luck so far. Now a middle-aged man, he is still a loser who needs to take care of a young son with partial hearing loss and has no respect for his superpower. One day, a boxing-holic, Shun, witnessed how Tin Yen defeated a loan shark gang by himself. He is determined to hire Tin Yen as his training assistant to beat the local boxing champion, Joe. During the preliminary round, Shun had to withdraw from the match due to an asthma attack. Tin Yen had no choice but to stand-in for Shun. Out of expectation, Tin Yen won with his one-second power. Tin Yen realized that in order to gain back his son’s respect, he had to get himself together. Thus, he agreed to be properly trained by Shun. Suddenly, Tin Yen turned into this new sensation, “One Second Boxing King”, who is on his way to the finals. However, due to an accident, Tin Yen lost his superpower. Will he be able to beat the killer champion, Joe, on his own and will Tin Yen be able to win his son’s respect in the end?
Why do we watch sports dramas? Mainly for the feel good takeaway message that it pays to be determined and give your one hundred per cent in whatever you do. Then depending on the type of sports drama, viewers ogle at the good looking cast. If it is a movie about basketball, you can expect perspiration from the sweaty players glistening attractively in the sunlight. If it is drama about tennis, you will be looking out for ladies and gentlemen rocking the courts in their sporty skirts and shorts. If it is a film about boxing, bare bodied dudes with an impressive six pack await
But wanting to see this Hong Kongmovie to merely check out its male leads Endy Chow and Chanon Santinatornkul fighting each other in boxer shorts would be superficial. There is a surprisingly affectionate human story in this movie that is worth your 95 minutes.
The story has a unique touch and worth mentioning. The protagonist Chow Tin Yan (Chow) is a single father who has the special power to see one second ahead, thanks to a childhood incident. As a kid, he experienced fame by appearing on TV but things took a turn in adulthood - life got cruel and he leads a slack life working in a bar. The plot wouldn’t be interesting if a series of events lead him to a training assistant for a boxer. Our man soon finds himself in the ring fighting a renowned boxer (Santinatornkul).
It is also noteworthy that this movie with a relatively small budget made an impressive HK$16 million after 20 weeks in Hong Kong cinemas. Touted as a success story, especially because its theatrical run was during the height of COVID-19, the real life story is as motivational as the protagonist’s reel life story.
There are numerous genuinely heartwarming scenes between Chow and his hearing impaired son. Be it the sequences where the father is trying to impress his junior, or the moments where the boy is cheering his old man on, the father and son bond will make you smile. There is also a side plot involving Chow and his boxing partner’s Taiwanese cousin (Lin Min Chen). Having the exchange of Cantonese and Taiwanese Mandarin is a fun touch from the filmmakers, and there are some chuckle worthy moments.
The highlight of the movie is undoubtedly the boxing scenes which do not disappoint. Director Chiu Sin Hang, who also plays Chow’s boxing partner, delivers in his debut feature film. While there are some tried and tested approaches of uplifting the viewers’ spirits through Chow’s determination to strive after being a disappointment for such a long time. The action scenes are grippingly edited and engaging enough for you to keep your eyes glued to the screen to cheer our underdog on.
Review by John Li