Friday, August 7, 2015


Dante Lam's 破風 (To The Fore) is the latest Taiwanese film to grace Hong Kong cinemas, and it does not disappoint. It's a movie about Taiwan's "national sport" - cycling - but also a fast-paced, suspenseful and refreshing exploration of the lengths one will go to for success and what it means to know (or push) one's own limits.

As the movie informs us from the onset, the “破風手" (called "the domestique") of any cycling team is the right-hand man who helps the sprinter facilitate a final sprint to the finish line by riding in his slipstream, blocking opposition. Despite the important role the domestique must play, however, it is only the sprinter who gets to stand on the podium of victory after each race. Domestique, after all, means "servant" in French.

破風 revolves around three bikers: 仇銘, 鄭知元 and 邱田. They all start off in the same team, in which 鄭知元 (Siwon Choi) is the sprinter, 仇銘 (Eddie Peng) is his domestique, and 邱田 (Shawn Dou) - although strong - stays near the rear. 仇銘's cockiness, 鄭知元's skill and 邱田's under-doggedness are all established early on. At first, such a trio brings their cycling team, Radiant, to glorious heights as they win race after race. 仇銘's bullheaded confidence is not yet disastrous, while 邱田's reserve does not take a toll on him yet. Once Radiant disbands, however, turning the three riders into immediate rivals from different teams, the film picks up - and each cyclist must face his flaws (and swallow his pride).

Although at times loophole-heavy and conspicuously CGI-ed, 破風 also teaches you more than you'd expect about biking tactics, competition rules, and the rigid (yet changeable) nature of human capabilities. Does the sidekick ever have the chance to be the star? How far can endurance take someone? Why do we go after the victory that we desire? These are the questions the movie poses and answers, supplying two-hours worth of humor, drama and explosive cinematography that will have your feet itching for a bike ride afterwards!

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