Road Rash Reviews

Born To Fly Review****-

Cert TBC (12) | 127 mins | 2023

4 Star

Supersonic Action.

Cinematic beauty comes to Blu-ray and Digital from Trinity CineAsia in Born To Fly, in this race to get on an even playing field, as aggressors show off their military might. What a break for first time writer/director Xiaoshi Liu, who brings us a stratospheric debut, in this high-octane stealth fighter fest.

Coastal China goes about its daily business, it is all quiet, until windows are shattered, sailors are thrown overboard as their ships are sunk. This is all due to two American F-35 Lightning II fighters which come in low at supersonic speeds. They cause all this damage as they head to higher altitudes. The radio crackles as they are informed that they are in Chinese airspace, and they are to leave immediately.

“We can come and go, whenever we want!”

China’s response is the Chengdu J-10, a third generation combat aircraft, a generation lower than the Americans F-35. The Chinese pilot Lei Yu (Yibo Wang, One and Only, Hidden Blade) struggles to keep up with the Americans manoeuvrability, but he keeps getting a target lock which alarms the pilots of the F-35’s. They cannot fire on each other as it would create an International incident. With some beautiful flying and amazing camera shots, we see this wonderful swan dance in the clouds. Lei flies with all his skill, but it is his equipment that fails him in the end, with an engine flameout. With no power, he has to break off and head for home. His skill sees him manage to land with mere seconds to go.

There is an inquest into Lei’s actions, in pushing his plane beyond its limitations, but he defends himself, in that to fight the next generation stealth fighters, it was his only option. This and his earlier flying skills bring him to the attention of Commander Zahg Ting (Jun Hu, Bodyguards and Assassins, Red Cliff), who suggests that Lei should enrol in this year’s new stealth fighter program to become a test-pilot. He agrees.

With only seven potential positions and lots of candidates, Lei will have to concentrate on training, to pass all the tests set by Dr Shen Tianran (Dongyu Zhou, Under the Hawthorn Tree, Better Days) and defeat his rivals that are at the top of their profession. Mainly Deng Fang (Yosh Yu, Fengshen Trilogy) who hold lots of accolades. Lei’s main interest is in the engines, due to the failure of his during the dogfight.

The race is on, and the competition is hot, as China races to compete with all the aggressors surrounding them. Can Lei and Ting bring about the next generation of Chinese stealth fighters? The road to success is always paved with disaster and that always brings action, in this slice of Chinese Top Gun. Born To Fly is a great action flick, and an amazing credit to the new writer-director Xiaoshi Liu.

Trinity CineAsia presents Born to Fly on UK Blu-ray and Digital from 5 February 

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DirectorXiaoshi Liu
GenreAction, Drama
StarringWang Yibo, Hu Jun, Yu Shi, Dongyu Zhou
Available to buy on : Own Born To Fly Blu-ray on Blu-Ray