Thu, Dec 29, 2016 - Page 13 News List

Film Review: 10,000 Miles

Taiwan’s latest feature on long-distance racing finally eschews the bicycle and takes on marathon running, but the resulting production follows the same ultra-motivational, sappy and cliched formula

By Han Cheung  /  Staff reporter

Megan Lai, left, plays Sean Huang’s coach in 10,000 Miles.

Photo courtesy of atmovies.com

With “never try, never know” as its motto, repeated countless times throughout the film, you probably know what you’re getting into if you’re going to theaters to watch 10,000 Miles (一萬公里的約定). It is exactly what you would expect from yet another glossy Taiwanese production involving long-distance racing, and packed full of blood, sweat, tears, ultra-motivational declarations and perfectly-timed sob scenes in the pouring rain. And, of course, it gives the producers an excuse to travel the world and shoot some stunning scenery.

It is a big-name, big-budget production after all. As if it weren’t enough with megastar Jay Chou (周杰倫) as producer, he also invited famous ultramarathon runner Kevin Lin (林義傑), who reportedly subjected the actors to grueling training, as co-producer.

The opening scene is grandiose as protagonist Kevin Fang (Wang Yuan, 王遠) peels off an injured toenail, fights a vicious wolf (and manages to escape unscathed) and tries to outrun a massive sandstorm. It would actually be more entertaining if the movie was an adventure about him overcoming more ridiculous obstacles while continuing his trek through the Silk Road, but after the opening credits, the sap fest begins.

Yes, the production and visuals are great, and we finally get a break from cycling — but unfortunately, the formula is still the same, with cliche after cliche in styling, dialogue and sequences. The script is implausible and the scenes are artificially engineered, eschewing reality to milk the most emotional reaction out of the audience. What’s the chance of it raining every single time a melodramatic scene is about to begin? They don’t even try to make it subtle, as the rain just suddenly falls out of nowhere as the mood intensifies.

Film Notes:

10,000 Miles

一萬公里的約定

Directed by: Simon Hung (洪昇揚)

Starring: Sean Huang (黃遠) as Kevin, Megan Lai (賴雅妍) as Iching, Darren Wang (王大陸) as Sean

Language: Mandarin, Taiwanese, English with Chinese and English subtitles

Running time: 103 minutes

Taiwan release: In theaters


The characters all behave as they should in this type of film — the stern father who falls ill, the dismissive coach who later becomes kind, the cold but caring brother who provides tough love. And they just had to throw in the love interest with a tragic past and painful secret. Everyone is oh-so-big-hearted that the entire movie’s tension comes from Fang battling against himself (and the wolf), which becomes tiresome as we wait for him to get it together.

While Fang works as a taxi driver after injuring his leg, a pre-famous Jay Chou promises to write him a song if he wins a race. This event motivates him to start running again, but it is too carefully laid out to be believable.

Given all these glaring issues, the movie is surprisingly not that painful to watch. The pacing is brisk, the scenery is beautiful and the plot holes are few or negligible. The characters, despite being rather one-dimensioned, are likeable. For example, Fang is reckless, loud and irritating, but at some point his sheer determination and earnestness become admirable. Don’t be ashamed to drop your inner cynic for a second and start rooting for him in the latter half the film.

Perhaps as a nod to Kevin Lin, the film makes countless references to the marathon legend, from the protagonist’s English name to his final 10,000km tour across the Silk Road, which is a feat Lin actually achieved.

Lin’s resume is impressive, and he was featured in the 2007 documentary Running the Sahara, chronicling his journey with two other runners to become the first people to run across the entire Sahara desert. One can’t help but wonder if a story based on his real life would be more interesting. It would still be motivational, and at least it would be realistic.

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