China Heavyweight (2012, Canada / China)

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Director: Yung Chang | 89 minutes | Canada, China | 2012 | Language: Sichuanese


“Boxing was banned in China for decades for being too violent. Now, director Yung Chang (Up the Yangtze) follows a boxing coach as he recruits and trains poor rural teenagers to become champions for the glory of their country.

Award-winning director Yung Chang (Up the Yangtze) takes his camera back to China to follow Qi Moxiang, a charismatic state boxing coach, on a search for raw talent in the village schools and rural tobacco fields of Sichuan province. Those chosen leave the poverty of their farms for training in special schools in the hopes that they’ll turn out to be extraordinary, winning medals and honour for their country. In this observational film, Chang entwines Coach Qi’s desire to fight “one more time” with an intimate portrait of the students’ lives, the rigours of training and the camaraderie as they grow from teenagers to young adults. As a new century of change and fierce competition sweeps through China, the best must decide between communist ideals of the common good and Western individualism: Will they fight for the glory of their country or for fame and money, becoming boxing kings like Tyson or Pacquiao? Lynne Fernie” (Hot Docs 12)

“ A masterful profile of China, told through the prism of the country’s newest sporting passion – boxing. Outlawed in 1959 for being too American, the ban on boxing was not lifted for thirty years. Now coaches are scouring the regions for promising children to recruit into a rigorous training programme. The risks are high for the boys and girls plucked from schooling to train. If they succeed, they can leave their impoverished rural lives behind, and represent their country in international events. If they fail, they return to them, and a life of manual labour. In this artful, beautifully constructed film, Canadian director Yung Chang follows young recruits, as they consider their futures, and during rare visits back home. They are led by their charismatic coach, Qi Moxiang, who gave up boxing some years ago, after failing to qualify for the Olympics, but is now determined to return one last time to the ring.” (


Director: Yung Chang
Producer(s): Bob Moore, Peter Wintonick

Associate Producer: Xi FENG
Cinematographer: Shaoguang SUN
Editor: Hannele Halm
Music: Olivier Alary


Bob Moore
Eyesteelfilm (Canada, US, Asia)

International distribution:



Film page on producer’s website  Film page on IMDb  

Film page on facebook  Film trailer on YouTube


Sundance 2012


China Heavyweight: A Rocky road to redemption (

China’s growing pains (

China Heavyweight: Documentary uses boxing to examine China (

Review: China Heavyweight (


. L.A. Asian Pacific 2012: 6 prizes for docs about Asia

. Sheffield Doc/Fest 2012 with a strong taste of Asia

. China Heavyweight: Documentary uses boxing to examine China (The Montreal Gazette)

. Zeitgeist acquires Canada/China doc “China Heavyweight”

. Hot Docs 2012 Canadian International Documentary Festival to show 2 docs about China

. Hot Docs 2012 selects 20 films from or about Asia Pacific

. Boxing clever in China (C21 Media)

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