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PING PONG

SYNOPSIS:
Eight senior citizens (who have lived 703 years between them) from four continents meet in Mongolia to compete in the World Over 80s Table Tennis Championships, including Australia's own world champion and the world's oldest competitive table tennis player, Dorothy DeLow.

Review by Andrew L. Urban:
If you'd said your gran was competing in the World Over 80s Table Tennis Championships I would have laughed and thought what a droll chap you were - until I was invited to review this doco and realised that it's no joke; deadly serious in fact. The Championship, that is. Don't mistake my ignorance for lack of interest: we used to have a ping pong table in the carport, where my ex-champion wife used to beat me and I'd take it out on the children by beating them. We love the sport.

So it's with great interest that I approached this genuinely heart warming and engaging doco, which follows eight ping pong players not past their prime, from various parts of the world as they prepare and head for China and the World Championship.

By briefly profiling each, the filmmakers ensure we care about them all; they are not treated as some sort of novelty act for the sake of the camera, and this is what makes the film a standout. Whether it's Ursula Bihl from Germany baking fruit tarts or Lisa Modlich from Houston, Texas, with her gun loving husband, the filmmakers give them all the same non judgmental treatment.

And none of them shy away from their proudly competitive spirit, showing off their multitude of gold medals, their names in the record books, their triumphant newspaper clippings. And you have to admire the sheer guts: Ursula can hardly walk down the street now, but she can still play. Her son went with her to China - urged her to go. Her son, of course, is a grey haired grandfather.

Inge only started playing in 1997, pretty sick; she is now healthy and fired up.

As for Sun Yong Qing from Hulun Buir in inner Mongolia, the youngest at 80, he's been looking forward to this competition for years. Now he's eligible. He smokes too much, according to his sister, and he seems to like beer, according to the cans scattered around his lounge room.

Then there's 100 year old Dorothy DeLow from Australia, the oldest of them all at the Championships. She's treated like a rock star, signing autographs and posing for photos for hours.

And if you thought this was some old community hall affair, have a look at this: it's like Las Vegas meets the Olympics! But of course, reality is always at hand, and as Les D'Arcy says, gasping for breath at the end of a tiring game, "I don't want to sit down and I don't want to die."

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CRITICAL COUNT
Favourable: 1
Unfavourable: 0
Mixed: 0

PING PONG (PG)
(UK, 2012)

CAST: Documentary featuring Dorothy DeLow, Les D'Arcy, Rune Forsberg, Sun Lao, Terry Donlon, Lisa Modlich, Ursula Bihl, Inge Hermann

DIRECTOR: Hugh and Hanson Hartford

RUNNING TIME: 80 minutes

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Vendetta Films[BREAK]June 6, 2013







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