It’s rare for sports dramas to make their way to the big screen in Hong Kong’s predictable movie industry (Another gritty cop thriller? Really?), but the inspirational true story of sport climber Lai Chi-wai deserves a spot on the silver screen.
Lion Rock is a fictional treatment based on Lai’s story of success. He was an elite Hong Kong rock climber who unfortunately became a parapelgic after a traffic accident in 2011. However, he successfully climbs up Hong Kong’s famous Lion Rock mountain in a wheelchair on the fifth year anniversary of his accident.
The film follows the life of David Ki (Alex Lam Tak-shun), Lai’s alter ego in the film. Ki suffers from a terrible motorbike accident and ends up losing the ability to move in both legs. Throughout the movie, flashbacks to a young Ki (Kevin Chu Kam-yin) are used to help tell the backstory of the climber’s life. Along the way, Ki learns and understands that being a disabled person won’t stop him from achieving his dreams.
Besides of Ki’s flashbacks to his younger self, there are also scenes where he is seen talking to his younger self. The back and forth between younger and older Ki is done beautifully, portraying his constant struggle with his disability. More so it helps the audience to understand his difficulties and appreciate his growth through pushing himself.
The film also has a quirky sense of humour to flesh out the supporting cast. This is done through hallucinations where Ki will see people as their spirit animals, reinforcing the idea that “everyone in Hong Kong are animals”. The humour is quite unique and very relatable to a local audience.
The most important aspect of this movie is the significance of Lion Rock mountain and what locals call the Lion Rock spirit. The Lion Rock spirit is about never giving up and always looking forward. Many locals live by this maxim and believe it is what makes Hong Kong people so strong and persistent. Lion Rock mountain is what Ki wants to conquer throughout the whole film, without regard to his disability and personal struggles. His strong will and ability to persevere against all odds is a central theme of this feel-good story.
Unfortunately, the film is quite predictable, as it is based on the true story of Lai. Nevertheless it is still an inspiring story, filled with warmth and humour and deserves a watch.