The Year of the Yao (2005)



Critic Consensus: This sports bio documentary is given a few fresh angles, including culture clash issues, and the friendship that develops between Yao and his interpreter.

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While the traditional American stereotype of people from China portrays them as short, studious, and not especially athletic, Yao Ming turned that image on his head -- standing seven foot six, Yao became the most talked about player in professional basketball when he signed to play with the Houston Rockets in 2002, the first Chinese émigré to play in the NBA. Yao was largely unknown when he first suited up with the Rockets, and many were skeptical about his abilities, especially when he displayed an unsure command of the American style of basketball in his early games. But Yao soldiered on, and by the end of the season he was proving his detractors wrong, among them player-turned-sportscaster Charles Barkley, who once on air promised to kiss the rear end of one of his fellow television commentators if Yao ever scored 19 points in a game -- and had to make good on the pledge when Yao managed the feat. The Year of the Yao is a documentary (produced in part by the NBA) which looks at Yao Ming's first season with the Rockets, how he adapted to American basketball, his relationship with his family and teammates, and what his success means to fans in the United States and China.
PG (adult situations/language)
Documentary , Special Interest , Sports & Fitness
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Critic Reviews for The Year of the Yao

All Critics (33) | Top Critics (13)

James D. Stern and Adam Del Deo's taut, engrossing 2004 documentary on Chinese basketball player Yao Ming's first year in the NBA offers insight into the game and its stars.

Full Review… | March 25, 2008
Chicago Reader
Top Critic

Should be a natural for NBA fans and please non-enthusiasts as well.

August 5, 2005
Chicago Tribune
Top Critic

As bright and shiny as you would imagine something co-produced by NBA Entertainment to be, The Year of the Yao provides little insight beyond hanging out with its super-sized star.

Full Review… | August 4, 2005
Los Angeles Times
Top Critic

[A] glorified infomercial.

August 4, 2005
L.A. Weekly
Top Critic

There appears to be much more to Yao than is captured here. That's where the movie drops the ball.

July 22, 2005
Detroit News
Top Critic

A surprisingly layered portrait of a rookie with the hopes of a nation -- a big nation -- riding on his shoulders, and the frustrations and small victories that entails.

Full Review… | July 15, 2005
San Francisco Chronicle
Top Critic

Audience Reviews for The Year of the Yao

I like Yao Ming a lot more because of this movie. It was very heart felt and an interesting look at the Houston Rockets center's first year in America. I definitely think he is a symbol and a bridge for both cultures. I'm glad he's a positive role model for both America and for China. Kudos YAO!

Dayna Lucas
Dayna Lucas

More interesting and entertaining than I thought it would be. Thought I'd just watch a few minutes but ended up watching the whole thing.

Tera Ukestad
Tera Ukestad

It's interesting to see someone come from a country that opposes individualism come and play in a league that is all about standing out. There is also an interesting side story to this doc, the young inexperienced interpreter that is whisked through the limelight along with Yao.

Phillip Renke
Phillip Renke

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