A CGI rendering of the J-20 — China's premier aircraft — is front and center in the movie's trailer. Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.
Tom Cruise’s massively successful Top Gun: Maverick recently broke even more movie records, becoming the fifth-highest-grossing movie in North America and the twelfth-highest-grossing movie globally. This comes after Maverick became the first movie ever to be the No. 1 movie on both Memorial Day and Labor Day weekends. With Maverick reminding Western audiences how cool fighter pilots are, China seems to have felt the pressure to assert its own dominance in the skies.
A new trailer for Born To Fly reveals a blatant Chinese rip-off of Maverick, complete with moody pilots competing for supremacy in flight school and not-so-great CGI dogfights. Just as Maverick showed off a series of America’s most formidable aircraft, Born To Fly aims to showcase China’s best aircraft, including its fifth-generation J-20. Comparable to Russia's “F-35 Killer,” the J-20 is the delta-winged jet that appears in the trailer’s opening sequence.
This isn’t the first time China has made blatant propaganda in the guise of a big-budget blockbuster. Last year, China released the $200 million war movie The Battle at Lake Changjin. The heavily biased representation of the Battle of the Chosin Reservoir remains the most expensive film China has ever produced. It followed a string of Chinese action movies meant to celebrate China’s military, including Wolf Warrior (1 and 2), Operation Red Sea, and Sky Hunter — another Top Gun-esque celebration of Chinese air power. But for all the commercial success those movies found in Chinese theaters, even Born To Fly can’t help but look like a goofy ad for a free video game.
Mac Caltrider is a senior staff writer for Coffee or Die Magazine. He served in the US Marine Corps and is a former police officer. Caltrider earned his bachelor’s degree in history and now reads anything he can get his hands on. He is also the creator of Pipes & Pages, a site intended to increase readership among enlisted troops. Caltrider spends most of his time reading, writing, and waging a one-man war against premature hair loss.
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