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Film Review: ‘One Second Champion’ Is an Affectionate Affirmation Of Fatherly Love5 min read

1 July 2021 4 min read


Film Review: ‘One Second Champion’ Is an Affectionate Affirmation Of Fatherly Love5 min read

Reading Time: 4 minutes

Tin-Yen, a man who has lost his wife and is estranged from his son, has the power to predict events a second before they happen. When a boxing fanatic discovers Tin Yen’s power and grooms him into a boxer, he starts using his gift to win every single game, earning the title, ‘One-Second Boxing King’. This is the story of him standing firm in the face of obstacles and learning that real power is not predicting the future but, instead, enduring it.

Director: Chiu Sin-Hang

Cast: Endy Chow, Chiu Sin-Hang, Lin Minchen, Hung Cheuk-Lok, Chanon Santinatornkul, Justin Cheung

Year: 2020

Country: Hong Kong

Language: Mandarin

Runtime: 97 minutes

Film trailer:

One Second Champion 《一秒拳王》topped the Hong Kong box office when it was released in March 2021 amidst the pandemic. The hit film is directed by and stars Chiu Sin-Hang, part of YouTube band ‘ToNick’. It is his solo-directorial debut following Hong Kong comedy Vampire Cleanup Department (2017), which he co-directed with Yan Pak-Wing.

Starring alongside Chiu is an international cast of multi-talented performers, including Canto-pop singer, Endy Chow. Malaysian actress Lin Minchen (who was also in Vampire Cleanup Department) and Thai actor Chanon Santinatornkul. 

I enjoyed One Second Champion immensely, and it is definitely going on my list of go-to family films. Its down-to-earth and heartwarming plot on family and fatherhood can be appreciated by children and adults alike. It is also an uplifting piece that celebrates the human will and the unlimited capacity to surpass seemingly insurmountable obstacles.

Sports drama One Second Champion follows Chow Tin-Yen (Endy Chow), a down-on-his-luck father with the ability to see one second into the future. Despite his supernatural gift, it proves to be largely unbeneficial to his life, living paycheck to paycheck while having to care for his son (Hung Cheuk-Lok), who is in need of an operation for his hearing loss. Yet, Chow remains determined for a better day. He is eventually convinced to clean up his act and bring his powers to the boxing ring.

Most movies and television shows featuring characters who can predict the future tend to lazily exploit their powers — whether it be by gaining a windfall through gambling or by conning others. While the film does share this central premise,  One Second Champion nimbly uses the formula to present opportunities for meaningful character arcs. 

Despite a brief moment in the spotlight as a child, Tin-Yen believed that his life is defined exactly by the narrowness of his supernatural gift. The key challenge for him — aside from financial issues and his ailing relationship with his son —is his inability to fully enjoy his life at the present moment. Placing such a troubled character in the boxing ring is essentially a trial by fire, where every second matters with no other place to be but in the now. 

I was literally kept at the edge of my seat throughout most of the movie. The excellent performances made the fights look extremely realistic. The intensity behind every punch, every sway, and every movement is deftly felt. The fast-paced stunt work and thrilling choreography have all the thrills and excitement that could rival any Marvel superhero film. I felt like I was in the boxing ring with them. The evocative colours of Hong Kong’s neon-littered landscape only added animation and energy to the film.

Beyond the ring, Tin-Yen is also challenged through a cute romantic encounter with a laughing-yoga teacher (Lin Minchen). This subplot brings levity and humour to contrast the intensity in the ring, despite the hurdles for Tin-Yen remaining essentially similar, having to realise the preciousness of every second this time with a loved one. 

While the movie engages with predictable and trite tropes of typical redemptive family movies, there is definitely sincerity in the film’s moving and heartwarming presentation of Tin-Yan’s resilience and perseverance. Tin-Yan’s superhero-ness is legitimised not by his power to see one second into the future, but by his love for his son and for his will to succeed. The outcomes of all his boxing matches are insignificant in comparison.

The clean and simple storyline helps to anchor the laser-focus Tin-Yan has in fulfilling his one genuine aim of being a proper father to his son. You want to root for Tin-Yan and his friends as they do their utmost to achieve this pure goal.

Everyone fighting in the ring wants to prove something to themselves. This, however, ended up introducing too many subplots for the 95-minute movie to handle, with the struggles of the other characters mainly shown through awkward treatments. Tin-Yan remains central to the film with every other character remaining in the peripheral.

One Second Champion satisfactorily concludes its heartwarming plot, thoroughly affirming Tin-Yen’s values and all that he has worked so hard for. The movie left me feeling content and surprisingly refreshed, especially with all the intensity that goes on in the ring. One Second Champion is a nice reminder that going back to basics is not always a bad idea.

If you stay for the credit’s scene, you will be rewarded with snippets of the actors working out, and learning and practising boxing, to get in shape for the movie. Though not officially part of the movie, it serves as a nice cherry on top. 

One Second Champion will be screening tomorrow at the Hong Kong Film Gala Presentation 2021. Look out for the hard-hitting sports drama when it opens in cinemas later in the year!

Amanda loves History, War Films, and anything in the Detective-Fiction genre. She has also lost count of how many times she has seen all seven seasons of 'Parks and Recreation'.
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