China’s first basketball youth pic, complete with rap score, “Slam” scores high on energy and local flavor but lower on originality. Restlessly shot and edited, with a grungy, almost docu-like look, the first feature by musicvid/commercials helmer Jonathan Lim, a grad of both Gotham’s and Beijing’s film academies, eventually becomes rather engaging thanks to pure technique. However, its natural arena looks to be Asian-American fests or Stateside events with Asian patrons.
So socially inept that he can hardly approach a girl (Zhao Wenqi) who likes him, high schooler Big Mouth (Lin Xiaofan) is obsessed with basketball, while his dad (Wang Zhigang, good), who manages a sports-equipment store and is always getting his son out of trouble, is under pressure from his sleazy boss, a team manager. Big Mouth finds succor in his friendship with two other obsessives, old pal Monkey (Zhang Yishan) and Asian-American student Jason (Andrew Chou), who decide to prove themselves in a basketball tournament. Copious games are expertly edited for maximum adrenaline, and the finale packs a surprisingly emotional punch. Product placement by one sportswear company is heavy.