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Meeting The Giant: A tad heavy-handed yet still entertaining

Singapore actor-director Tay Ping Hui’s basketball-themed film “Meeting The Giant” is a thought-provoking movie about acceptance that is a little heavy-handed, but still manages to entertain.

SINGAPORE: Singapore actor Tay Ping Hui does a pretty good job with his big screen directorial debut “Meeting The Giant”.

Told through the eyes of Wu Junhui (Chua Seng Jin), a young Singaporean basketball player who harbours a deep suspicion of foreign players, the story traces the lives of a group of teenage Chinese basketball players who are brought to Singapore by Long Quansheng (Jack Choo), a wealthy businessman.

“Meeting The Giant” looks at how the Chinese players struggle to get used to their new surroundings, leave their pasts behind, and build a new life for themselves in Singapore.

When Wu joins them for training as a guest, he gradually discovers that they are not too different from him and becomes more accepting of them, but soon finds himself bearing witness to a crisis that threatens to tear the team apart.

Although “Meeting The Giant” features real basketball players (some of them are from the Singapore national team) and has numerous scenes on the basketball court, it actually has very little to do with basketball.

“Meeting The Giant” is really a film about acceptance.

The film takes care to highlight the backstories of the Chinese players - from the young, optimistic He Xiaodi (Ian Fang) and his doting older brother He Dadi (Lim Shengyu) to the cool Wang Shaohua (Michael Lee) as well as Gao Ming (Ng Hanbin), and the morose Chen Hang (Delvin Goh).

It attempts to show that they are real people with real families, people who have to overcome numerous challenges after coming to Singapore, people who should be accepted instead of ostracised.

This is an admirable goal, but the problem with “Meeting The Giant” is that it can be quite heavy-handed at times, and tries a little too hard to paint the Chinese players as misunderstood, suffering immigrants while Wu, one of the few Singaporean key characters in the film, is shown to be spoilt and privileged.

The film also features some uninspired dubbing that causes the dialogue to be delivered devoid of emotion in certain parts of the film.

It makes sense for the production team chose to dub the cast – most of the basketball players are played by Singaporeans who would not sound convincing as Chinese – but more care could probably have been taken to ensure that the dubbing turned out well.

However, “Meeting The Giant” isn’t without its strengths.

Chua, Lim, Lee, Ng and Goh are all first-time actors, but they managed to emote well and captured the spirit of their characters.

It is also refreshing to see Fang, who often plays arrogant characters in his television dramas, play the emotionally vulnerable He Xiaodi for a change.

In addition, the film has a number of truly moving scenes that stem from the camaraderie between the young basketball players.

Throw in some humorous sequences, a sprinkling of well-shot scenes on the basketball court as well as an unconventional ending, and you get a film that is not only thought-provoking but reasonably entertaining too.  

3/5 stars.

“Meeting The Giant” is now showing.

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