Chasing Dream : ‘NYAFF’ Review – Where MMA meets a Reality Show
Cinema as a medium catapults us to the World of Dreams. The very idea of watching your fantasy come alive on screen is dreamy. Filmmakers are often described as dream sellers – The fables they conjure are reminiscent of magicians pulling off some wizardry. ‘Chasing Dream (Chihuo Quan Wang)‘ then has been an underlying theme of a vast majority of films and that has led to visual spectacles like a Beauty falling in love with a Beast or A Superman saving the Planet. These mythical and unrealistic stories have formed the crux of our cinematic universe. We have been watching our heroes chase dreams ever since they first said – Lights, camera, and action. This is yet another film that’s selling the same fable.
This film by Hong Kong Filmmaker Johny To is a theatrical and utterly predictable joyride that doesn’t pack an emotional punch. However, it does deliver wholesome entertainment – merging everything from Boxing to MMA to Crime Lord to Reality TV. All wrapped together in a bland and often breezy romantic comedy.
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Our hero is an MMA Fighter known for over-eating and is literally named Gluttonous. He is managed by a crime lord who also uses our hero for debt collection. His master is a boxer who trains young kids and is disappointed by his prodigy who chose the theatrical MMA over pure boxing. There’s a Dangal inspired scene of confrontation between the master and his prodigy where the prodigy outsmarts his master bruising his ego. However, the scene lacks the emotional depth of the original as neither of the actors has the range to pull off a scene like that.
Also, since its a Rom-Com, we also have a Heroine. The debt-ridden young girl who has her dreams, i.e to be the winner of a reality show judged by her ex-lover who betrayed her and stole her songs. To add to that she’s the cheerleader for MMA fights. So yes, if you’re capable of connecting the dots, I don’t think the plot would have revealed itself. Our Hero decides to help our Heroine chase her dreams while the Heroine helps our Hero reach his mission (not precisely his goal).
The narrative is simplistic. There are some lovely songs, some good action sequences but that’s about it. The performances are laughably ridiculous. Some other film inspires most of the scenes. It ticks all the commercial cinema elements – like our Heroine mesmerizing the judges with her original song to our Hero fighting back as soon as her lover enters the Octagon. Not to forget a cringe-inducing revenge subplot where our Hero fights for his Master’s reputation.
Perhaps through the film, the makers questioned the youth’s obsession with these grand reality shows and the toxic masculinity attached to MMA. However, these thoughts were drowned beneath the surface level narrative as the director seemed far more interested in manipulating the audience and getting a reaction from them. He chose two events associated with a heightened realism and emotionally resonating with audiences all over the world over.
At the end of the day, if you want to watch an action rom-com about a boxer saving his debt-ridden muse released this year, check out Takashi Mike’s First Love. Its everything this film attempts to be. But then again, if you expected something innovative from someone who named his film Chasing Dream the joke’s on You. The title itself should have answered your question. Chasing Dream is a cliche – get over it.