Chang’s quest to dunk an inspirational journey

Zoey Renee as Kristy, Bloom Li as Chang, Dexter Darden as DeAndre, and Ben Wang as Bo in CHANG CAN DUNK, exclusively on Disney+. Photo by Stephanie Mei-Ling. © 2022 Disney Enterprises, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

We all have dreams. Sometimes those dreams are big. Sometimes those dreams are practical. But dreams help spur us to be better, to reach higher and further than we think we can go. In the latest from Disney+, Chang Can Dunk, we meet a teen who is focused on achieving an athletic feat.

Chang (Bloom Li) is a huge basketball fan. He’s also a high school student that isn’t that popular. He’s in the band but he dreams of making the varsity squad. He’s afraid to try out because he doesn’t want to be stuck on the bench. When Kristy (Zoe Renee) shows up at the school and joins the band, Chang wants to impress her.

The problem is, the star basketball player Matt (Chase Liefeld) seems to be standing in his way. To win Chase’s respect and impress Christy, Chang declares he can dunk. Soon, that evolves into a bet, leaving him with just a few weeks to prepare. After hooking up with a coach (Dexter Darden) and starting a tough training regimen, Chang hopes to prove the doubters wrong and achieve his dreams. Along the way, he just might find something more important.

This sets up as pretty standard fare. It’s a Disney+ film that’s aimed at teens and young adults but is a piece of family-friendly entertainment. I might not be the target audience, so I was on the fence going in. But this film won me over. It’s got heart—just like Chang—and it’s also a fun and emotional journey. There’s humor, there’s pathos and it provides a story that’s unexpected and sucks you in.

I loved Li in the lead role. He brings Chang to life in a way where you can’t help but root for him. I also enjoyed Darden as his coach, one of the best relationships in the film is the way he bonds with Chang. The rest of the cast is solid, too.

The first half seems to progress much as you’d expect with a twist that at first made me nervous. But the way the film turns it around, building Chang into a better person and focusing on his relationship with his mother ended up being richly emotionally satisfying.

The plot here isn’t much of a surprise, but it’s not about the way the story unfolds, it’s about how you invest in the players. I invested in Chang and his journey, and I think many other viewers will feel the same. This is a win for Disney+.

Chang Can Dunk streams on Disney+ beginning on Friday, March 10.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Matthew Fox is a graduate of the Radio, Television and Film program at Biola University, and a giant nerd. He spends his free time watching movies, TV, and obsessing about football. He is a member of the FSWA. You can find him @knighthawk7734 on Twitter and as co-host of the Fantasy Football Roundtable Podcast.


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