FANTASIA FEST 2021: ‘One Second Champion’ Is an Exciting Rocky-esque Sports Drama With a Twist

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One Second Champion

Despite heavily borrowing from sports classic Rocky, the Chiu Sin-hang-directed boxing drama One Second Champion is a rousing crowd-pleaser that uses a light supernatural touch to bring originality to its story.

Chow Tin-yan (Endy Chow) was born with the weird ability to be able to see one second into the future. As a kid, he was called the One-Second Wonder, but after a while, it was clear that his power was pretty useless. Now a grown-up adult, Chow is a loser. He works in a bar, owes gambling money, and disappoints his son Chi-Leung (Hung Cheuk-lok), who struggles with a partial-hearing disability. 

One day, during a bar fight, Chow impresses Shun (director Chiu Sin-Hang), a boxer desperately looking for a sparring partner, as well as new students for his gym, a space he shares with his cousin and laughing yoga instructor Yiu (Lin Min-Chen). At first disinterested, Chow realizes that boxing can earn him the respect of his son and soon learns how to use his one-second power to succeed in the ring. As he rises through the ranks, he catches the attention of Joe (Chanon Santinatornkul), a dangerous boxer nicknamed “Instant Killer” who killed his last opponent and is now looking for a new, ticket-selling fight. However, a dramatic twist in his and his son’s life forces Chow to make a big decision ahead of the crucial bout.

One Second Champion is never defined by its supernatural concept. The one-second gimmick is an interesting spin, but the film’s success relies on its endearing characters and heartful execution of the underdog story. Chow’s power is there to push his development, not to constrain it; he uses it to grow as a boxer and a father and then has to learn how to cope without it, which makes for an engaging and meaningful third act.

The father-son relationship is smartly developed to move audiences and generate empathy for Chow; you will cheer for his every punch. Also, in another effort to give freshness to the sports drama, writers Ashley Cheung and Ryan Wai-Chun Ling added a twist to the paternal storyline in the form of Chi-Leung’s disability. Through his boxing efforts, Chow tries to teach Chi-Leung about the value of resilience and perseverance. Most importantly, he inspires him to see his disability as a superpower to never give up. 

The film never tries to hide the Rocky influence. We got the exciting training montage, the underdog facing the dangerous villain (who uses advanced technology to train Ivan Drago-style), the climactic third act fight, and the obvious Bill Conti Rocky music cues. The use of these elements is never annoying or cheap; in fact, Chiu Sin-Hang uses them to his full advantage, organically blending them with humor, charm, and action. The boxing scenes are furious and dynamic; every punch lands hard, and cinematographer Oliver Lau’s use of long sequences adds a tremendous amount of dynamism. The pace is tremendous, and comedy is only used when necessary. Chiu Sin-Hang’s exciting direction is an example of how to take inspiration from something and give it a voice of its own.

Singer Endy Chow Kwok-yin is excellent in the main role. He has great chemistry with the entire cast, and his physical transformation rounds out a very convincing character arc. As the resolute coach and failed boxer Shun, director Chiu Sin-Hang brings heaps of energy to the movie, while Min Chen Lin gives a mesmerizing performance that creates interest around her melancholic character; unfortunately, she and Chanon Santinatornkul’s Joe are given little time to develop as full-fledged characters.

One Second Champion is an uplifting triumph in which Chiu Sin-hang takes a conventional sports story to create an effective film that will have you cheering its underdog from your seat. 

One Second Champion is now screening at the Fantasia International Film Festival 2021.


One Second Champion
  • 8/10
    Rating - 8/10
8/10

TL;DR

One Second Champion is an uplifting triumph in which Chiu Sin-hang takes a conventional sports story to create an effective film that will have you cheering its underdog from your seat.