Sports film on melodrama steroids

Huang Yuan and Megan Lai keep emotions running high in 10,000 Miles.
Huang Yuan and Megan Lai keep emotions running high in 10,000 Miles.PHOTO: GOLDEN VILLAGE PICTURES

REVIEW / DRAMA

10,000 MILES (PG)

103 minutes/Opens Friday/2/5 stars

The story: High school student Kevin (Huang Yuan) is so determined to run that he leaves home to join his elder brother Sean's (Darren Wang) track team. He gets rejected, but Ellie (Megan Lai), a senior member of the team, starts to train him. Their burgeoning relationship is tested when Kevin defies her to take part in a competition despite being injured.

There is a thin line between being passionate about something and being pig-headed and reckless about it. It is a line that Kevin crosses with abandon.

Injured as a result of over-training, he insists on taking part in a competition despite being warned that doing so could cripple him. On top of his petulant behaviour, he is also often shouty and unreasonable.

If not for the fact that Huang plays him with such earnestness, he would be completely insufferable.

It does not help that director and co-writer Simon Hung piles on florid emotions and cliches, turning 10,000 Miles into a sports film on melodrama steroids.

The story veers off-track when Kevin turns to driving a taxi to make a living while Sean bizarrely ends up as a criminal. Thrown into the mix are a tragic past for Ellie, Kevin's disapproving father and an orphanage that needs to be saved from impending closure.

And then there is the Jay Chou cameo.

The Mandopop king drops in for a scene as his younger, demo-toting self taking a cab ride to a record company, inspiring Kevin in the process to keep running. This is even more jarring than superstar Andy Lau's appearance as himself at the end of the youth romance comedy Our Times (2015), as it jolts one out of the movie.

Kevin eventually takes on a brutal run along the Silk Road to fulfil a promise. The movie then ends abruptly, as though it has suddenly run out of steam.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 14, 2016, with the headline 'Sports film on melodrama steroids'. Print Edition | Subscribe