Born to Fly (aka Chang kong zhi wang ) (2023) 

On Blu-ray and Digital March 26th from Well Go USA 

A young pilot joins an elite group of test pilots working on China’s newest technology in an attempt to make it better and always be flying. 

Written by Guan Gui and Xiaoshi Liu and directed by the latter, Born to Fly is an action drama that is very reminiscent of Top Gun in some aspect, making a part of its story very much about patriotism, making sure your nation has the best of something, and pushing the boundaries of what a human pilot can do. However, Born to Fly is less about military (air force) power and more about the strength of the human spirit and how some folks want to be involved in the advancement of technology and their passions so much, they sometimes get a bit too caught up in one or both of these pursuits. The film here is written decently and directed in a serviceable way. It’s a decent movie, but not one that particularly stands out on many fronts. It’s good, but it feels like it could have been more. For those who love a good flight/aviation film, it’s a solid one though. Considering the film is the writing and directorial debut of Xiaoshi Liu, it’s a more than good starting point for a career in film. 

The case here is led by Yibo Wang who turns in an interesting take on the lead character at hand. His work here is good if a bit stoic at times, but that does feel like it’s the right way to play the character. He does get a few more emotional scenes here and there, giving him time to stretch his acting muscles and those are decent. Joining him here and outshining him is Jun Hu as Zhang Ting who gives a more solid and balanced performance here, giving his character more depth and making him steal a few scenes (and run away with most of the movie to be honest). Dongyu Zhou as Shen Tianran joins a cast of mostly men and holds her own against any of them. She is there to do a job, much like her character, and gets it done. She’s a good balance for the rest of the cast while maintaining an outward strength that works great for her here. Overall, much like with the story and direction, the acting here is decent, which seems to be the theme of the film as a whole.  

The cinematography here is worth checking out. The work of Yuxia Bai is lovely to look at and gives a good view of what the pilots see while in the sky. The way these scenes are shot is beautiful and almost vertigo inducing at times which means job well done. The bits on the ground, the rest of the movie, are also very well shot. The cinematography is one of the strong points of Born to Fly, being easily the one thing that will keep viewers coming back to the film. 

Born to Fly is a decently made film, something that is at almost all levels, with strong cinematography, one with a slightly predictable story, but also a film that is easy to come back to and rewatch.