I was at the bookstore in Chinatown today and saw the November 2007 of Taiwan GQ (No. 134). Hong Kong singer-actor Andy Lau graces the cover.
I picked it up, flipped through it and came across an image from the football biopickish We Are Marshall (McG, 2006). I did some quick scanning of the article and sweet fancy Hosea–it was about American sports movies. I bought it.
I was going to translate the whole darn thing from Chinese to English, but I decided to go with a few excerpts here and there. There isn’t a specific individual credited as having authored the piece. The name of the article is “Get Spirited. Sports Movies Must Exist” (white text at bottom of picture).
The bolded paragraph reads:
An entire summer of baseball and futbol has ended and is followed by seasons of the NFL, NBA, and NHL, the three dominant American professional sports. Aside from the mesmerizing reality of competition’s defeat and victory, one can watch a few films that haven’t yet hit theatres in Taiwan or action-packed, heartwarming or other kinds of sports movies on DVD as part of a ritual. Current sports movies have already shed their naive aims, as they record historical turning points, responding to economic downturns and human troubles. It’s like exciting competition arouses the spirit of devotion to a righteous cause. Good sports films also convey life’s hope, momentarily filling any disappointments in realizing one’s dreams.
What’s interesting about this article is how it relates to the Sports Illustrated piece by Adam Duerson. Duerson observes that the quality of American sports films is on the decline, and if studios are partly to blame, it’s because overseas audiences don’t really dig sports films. This GQ article refers to this idea in the first chunk:
Since 1993, American sports network ESPN has held an annual awards ceremony that recognizes exceptional athletes of diverse backgrounds. Among these awards is Best Sports Movie. The Best Sports Movie in 2006 was <<Kingpin Races the Wind>> (Talledega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby), and it managed to play in Taiwan theatres. In the same year, <<Hope Doesn’t Fade>> (We Are Marshall) was nominated, and though it starred box-office star Matthew McConaughey, local distributors didn’t readily embrace it.
Farther down, the article argues that “in America, sports movies are a big deal. Every year there’s inevitably a big star acting in this kind of film. In Taiwan, sports films are a small deal.”
The piece mentions Friday Night Lights (or “Winner’s Light” as it’s translated in Chinese), and along with Glory Road (or “Bravely Burst into a Restricted Area”) and We Are Marshall, it didn’t get a theatrical run in Taiwan. The article adds, “it’s a shame because these three major stars [Josh Lucas, Matthew McConaughey, and Tim McGraw] frequently did a lot of research and made many sacrifices for their roles. Matthew McConaughey’s southern accent is a small case; in order to portray a middle-aged coach, Josh Lucas had to gain a lot of weight in the middle of the film; and the ever-sexy-on-stage Tim McGraw was a bald, professionally unsuccessful middle-aged father, a breakthrough performance that garnered him an MTV movie award nomination.”
The article then addresses the plot and themes of the films. The last sentence of the piece is:
“Regardless where the emphasis is placed, a goal is necessary. Presenting hope has always been a strong part of American films. To the audience members with popcorn and cola in their hands, though, they need these films to incite their hearts and souls on occasion.”
And now for some goods from American GQ. Click here for a spread on the Worst Sports Movies Performances. Click here for a textual and audiovisual presentation of what it’s like to be an NFL Cheerleader.
Oh, and I kid you not. Talledega Nights is known as “Kingpin Races the Wind” in Chinese. We Are Marshall is called “Hope Doesn’t Fade.”
This Hong Kong version has a different Chinese title. It says “Strong Young Men.”
The Hong Kong version of “Glory Road” says “Spirited Strong Basket.”