Dante Lam is one of Hong Kong’s best known directors. He’s made films like Unbeatable and The Stool Pigeon.
Then again, he made The Viral Factor and Sniper.
So any new Dante Lam film is always exciting, because you never know what it’s going to be like.
To the Fore is the story of a Taiwanese bicycle racing team trying to win races.
Eddie Peng stars as the talented but egotistical young hotshot.
Choi Si Won is his teammate and rival.
It’s hard to tell how he feels at any given time, because plastic surgery has rendered his face a frozen mask.
Or he can’t act his way out of a wet paper bag, I’m not sure.
Shawn Dou plays the dutiful teammate who always helps ensure victory but never gets to win the race. Still, his hair is always… perfect.
So he’s got that going for him.
Wang Luodan plays a female cyclist (that’s not a euphemism) with a heart problem. And I don’t mean romantical [sic].
Though she has those problems too.
Andrew Lin plays the team’s coach and mentor.
Will Eddie learn to be a team player?
Will the girl get the guys she wants, and will it be the guy who wants the girl more than the other guy?
Will a wayward team member learn the error of his ways?
Will the team reunite after learning their respective (and trite) life lessons?
Will this film play in China?
Since the answer to that one is yes, the answers to all the others are too. I’m not spoiling anything.
Anyone with an IQ above that of a rhododendron bush can see every bit of this movie coming from a mile away.
To the Fore was originally going to have the English title Breaking Wind.
Luckily for us, that tile was changed. Unluckily, the content remained the same. I don’t know what word goes past ‘pedestrian,’ but I wish I did. Everything about this movie is leaden, obvious, and embarrassingly derivative.
The only thing I enjoyed was Carl Ng in a small role as a manager so twisted he puts his pants on with a corkscrew.
Practically everyone else in this movie is so clean-cut it made me sick. Not to mention they’re cleanly cut with a cookie-cutter.
Okay, that went too far.
Considering how derivative virtually everything in this movie is, you’d think that at least Dante Lam might have had the intelligence to recycle Breaking Away, an iconic and Oscar-winning story about bike racing.
Then again, it’s a good thing he didn’t recycle Breaking the Waves either.
But To the Fore does recycle movies you may have seen before.
Sadly, and weirdly, it’s a Taiwanese version of Talladega Nights.
Intentionally or not, when you have three plot points in your movie that are the same as a Will Farrell comedy about NASCAR, you got problems.
Speaking of problems… I have some questions of my own.
The movie takes place in Taiwan. So everyone speaks Mandarin. Well, almost everybody. Why do the newscasters in the voiceovers always speak Cantonese? It doesn’t matter where the races are; Taiwan, China, Korea… they speak Cantonese.
Who was that photographer woman who got a couple of close-ups but no dialog?
Why do the bad guy racers all bleach their hair blond?
Maybe they couldn’t afford foreigners to play the bad guys.
Everybody’s favorite home wrecker Mandy Lieu plays the designated Anglophone tramp.
Why do sluts always speak English in these movies?
A wayward teammate, a the ruthless winner, an alcoholic mother, a pining girlfriend, a slutty foreigner… this movie has everything!
Why are the male racers all about their sport but female racers are all about the boys?
Why does so much of the movie look like it was shot on a phone?
An old phone.
I know you can’t film a realistic bike pile-up (or you can’t afford the CGI), but why did they just show a bunch of people laying down while some PA tossed water bottles randomly into frame?
Why does that guy stick himself with a needle so huge it would make an elephant faint?
If someone you despise literally and intentionally pisses on you, why don’t you hit him?
Do people really gamble on bicycle racing in Korea, and is racing there to pay your debts really the moral and social equivalent of being a hooker?
If the racer’s ankle was ‘shattered” and the Achilles tendon was severed, how did they manage to get right back up and finish the race?
The answer to that question, and probably most if not all of thee others, is that it’s a movie.
That does not answer the question of whether or not that was a Curt Schilling homage I saw.
But to be honest, I don’t really care. Ten minutes into this movie, I was counting the 115 more minutes until it ended.
As soon as I saw the first credit, I bolted for the door. But then someone tried to stop me from leaving. Apparently, there was an Easter Egg. “There’s still more to see,” she said. As I brushed past her, all I could say was “No there isn’t.”
I don’t necessarily want to call this a bad movie, because it might not be. I think that for the right audience it might actually work. The film was apparently made for teenagers, and on that level I can understand it. They’re the only ones for whom the pedantic storytelling and moralizing might actually inspire anything other than confusion and pity.
As I Tweeted after the screening: