Born to Fly (2023) Review

Visually Stunning


There are some nice visuals in Born to Fly and it has some heartfelt moments but the pacing does lag especially in the middle with only a few action scenes throughout. It’s a fun one time watch but you’ll barely remember it by the time the end credits roll.

Plot: Join Lei Yu and his team of elite aviators as they undergo intense training to become recognised as official test pilots tasked with testing the latest fighter jets for China. Led by the experienced Commander Zhang, they soar to new heights and face unexpected challenges when their engine fails, causing the aircraft to spiral out of control.

Despite facing near-death situations repeatedly, they persevere and gather crucial data under extreme circumstances. However, with the deadline for delivery of the jet quickly approaching, their challenges become increasingly difficult. Will they be able to triumph over adversity and successfully complete their mission?

With breathtaking aerial sequences and high-stakes action, “Born to Fly” is an adrenaline-fueled ride that showcases the unwavering determination and bravery of China’s test pilots. Don’t miss this thrilling film that will keep you on the edge of your seat from start to finish.

Review: Clearly cashing in on the success of last year’s Top Gun: Maverick China tries their hand with their own version called Born to Fly with mixed results. Despite being at times visually stunning most of the aerial scenes are done with CG here and it’s just not all that exciting.

Like Maverick we are never told who the villains are and are known as “The Enemy” but the fact they have American accents then I think we can put 2 and 2 together…

What I love about watching films from around the world is it’s interesting to see the different perspectives; where Top Gun is essentially American military propaganda Born to Fly is China’s equivalent to it, but I know which one I will watch more in the coming years.

I never really cared about any of the characters here aside from the Commander and the story just isn’t all that engaging. It’s far too talky so if you’re looking for fight scenes or shoot-outs then I wouldn’t bother with this. There is a dogfight at the end and at the beginning with a few aerial set-pieces throughout but nothing that ever gets truly thrilling.

Born to Fly has similarities to Top Gun but the story is different enough as the characters are testing new stealth planes so they can keep “The Enemy” out of Chinese airspace. Our lead character Lei Yu (Yibo Wang) is intelligent if a little bland, and his main rival Deng Fang (Yosh Yu) is essentially the film’s Iceman where they work together in the end for the greater good. There are a few heartfelt moments especially when an inevitable accident occurs and that elevates the film giving it more emotional heft.

The music score is swelling and heroic at times and makes things a little more interesting although it doesn’t have Danger Zone which is already a fail.

Overall, Born to Fly is at times visually impressive even if it is mostly CGI and there are a few impressive aerial dogfights, but the story just isn’t that exciting and lacking in urgency so it’s not really a film I’d rush to watch again.