(director/writer: Liu Xiaoshi; screenwriter: Gui Guan; cinematographer: Yuxia Bai; editor: Ruiliyang Li; music: Sida Guo; cast: Yang Yibo (Lei YU), Hu Jun (Zhang Ting), Yosh Yu (Deng Fang), Yu Shi (Rival flyer), Dongyu Zhou (Shen Tianran); Runtime: 128; MPAA Rating: NR; Well Go USA; 2023-China-in English & Mandarin with English subtitles)

“Never caught my interest.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

The shallow and unoriginal but technologically sound Chinese version of America’s Top gun, as directed by first-timer Liu Xiaoshi and written by Gui Guan, never caught my interest. It’s packaged as an action-packed propaganda film, with CGI filming.

The promising test pilot Lei Yu (Wang Yibo) is recruited by the no-nonsense veteran Zhang Ting (Hu Jun) to join the elite test pilot outfit trying to get “limit data” at high-altitude from the new stealth planes.

Apart from a passing rivalry Lei has with Deng Fang (Yu Yosh), that’s about deep
as the plot goes, as the film also delivers an undeveloped romance on the Air Force base between Lei and (Dongyu Zhou), the base doctor.

There are frequent political rah-rah talks we must endure about foreign powers trying to contain China and to encroach on its waters, which is the point of  this tiresome film and also that it gets to show off its latest jet models while doing stunts.

The film opens and closes with some well-conceived dogfights.

Maverick they ain’t … Born to Fly