The latest film by China’s onetime voice of a generation is an entertaining romp about a disgraced racing champ trying to get back in gear
This likable, unchallenging Chinese sports movie, about a has-been rally driver out to prove he’s still got what it takes after a lengthy ban, is the third film directed by Han Han, the superstar blogger/novelist/rally driver/film-maker once hailed as the voice of a generation of Chinese millennials. In real life, Han Han famously flipped his middle finger at officials on the racetrack. But he must be mellowing – because with this comeback story he keeps his eye firmly on the mainstream, steering steady-as-you-go down the middle of the road.
Comedy actor Shen Teng plays Zhang Chi, an arrogant five-times champ slapped with a five-year ban after a spot of after-hours racing in a multi-storey car park. The film opens with Zhang Chi nearing the end of his ban, flat broke, deserted by fans and sponsors, cooking fried rice on a street food stall. He’s a few pounds heavier but just as cocky. The way he gets his career back in gear unfolds in a more or less predictable manner – making amends with teammates, getting his old car race-worthy and humiliating himself on reality TV in a desperate attempt to raise finances.