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Film / White Blessing

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White Blessing is a 2017 film from Mongolia directed by Janchivdorj Sengedorj.

It is a sports biopic of Mongolian judoka, Sumiya Dorjsuren, nicknamed "Davaa". Davaa grows up in a rural village, where her mother dies when she is a schoolgirl. After her father remarries, Davaa flatly refuses to accept her new stepmother, and instead, moves to a town to live with her uncle.

Eventually Davaa makes peace with her father and stepmother. But while living with her uncle she develops an interest in judo. Davaa shows great talent as a judoka, even while dealing with injuries, and at one point having a nervous breakdown. Finally her judo career reaches a peak with the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. Can Davaa win gold, and glory for Mongolia?


  • Age Cut: A Training Montage shows young Davaa training with the other athletes at her school. There's a shot of all the kids running together. Then the film cuts back to Davaa training, except now she's at least eight years older and played by a different, adult actress.
  • Artistic License – History:
    • In real life Dorjsuren first competed in the Olympics in London in 2012, where she did not medal. This film omits that first Olympic trip.
    • The movie ends with Davaa triumphantly winning gold in Rio. She did not! She won silver, losing in the final to Rafaela Silva from Brazil. (The film may be conflating the Olympics with the 2017 Judo World Championships in Budapest, where she did win gold.)
  • Biopic: Of Mongolian judoka Sumiya Dorjsuren.
  • Disturbed Doves: There's a whole motif in which doves are associated with Davaa's late mother. Early in the film when Davaa's mom dies, there's a shot in which Davaa parts the curtain only for a flock of doves to symbolically fly out. That's soon followed by a shot of doves flying off a lone tree near their village, where the family used to play. Later in the film, as the stress of training drives Davaa to a nervous breakdown, she starts to hallucinate getting packages filled with dove feathers.
  • Downer Beginning: The film starts with Davaa's mother dying in 2001.
  • Dramatic Drop: Davaa dramatically drops her school backpack outside the family yurt, before entering the yurt, where her mother has died.
  • Establishing Character Moment: In her first appearance Davaa is fighting a boy at school, and winning. She's established as both someone who won't back down, and unusually strong.
  • The Glomp: Davaa gets a running start and leaps up into her coach's arms after winning bronze at the world championships in 2015.
  • High Heel Hurt: Davaa's night out clubbing winds up with her dragging her drunk-ass coach home, while she's wearing high heels. She goes out walking with Garid afterwards but complains about her feet in said heels. She winds up putting on his shoes while he walks the streets of UB in his socks.
  • How We Got Here: The film starts with Davaa in the gold medal final of the 2016 Olympics, getting caught in a hold by a Russian woman, before jumping back 15 years to Davaa as a schoolgirl in the countryside.
  • Institutional Apparel: All the kids at Davaa's school wear standard clothes. The boys wear white shirts and black pants, but the girls, surprisingly, wear outfits that look a lot like French maid costumes, right down to the lace white cap.
  • "London, England" Syndrome: Naturally, there's a shot of Christ the Redeemer to begin the last part of the film, at the 2016 Rio Olympics.
  • Meet Cute: How Davaa meets Garid, her Love Interest. She's struggling to haul her dead-drunk coach up the stairs, when she stumbles in the stairwell, and falls to her knees in a position that looks like she's about to give the coach a BJ. That's just when Garid hits the top of the stairs. He's amused.
  • A Minor Kidroduction: The first act has 10-year-old Davaa dealing with the death of her mother, and getting into judo at school, before the film cuts to Davaa as a grown woman and a rising judoka.
  • Noodle Incident: The movie never states what Davaa's mother died of, although apparently it wasn't a shock, since Davaa immediately says "Mom!" when the school principal tells her that something has happened.
  • Not What It Looks Like: Davaa is carrying her judo coach, who is passed out drunk, up a flight of stairs. She's strong but it's still a struggle as he's a big guy and she is wearing high heels. She winds up sort of dropping him and stumbling to her knees on the landing—which is right when Garid comes down the stairs and sees Davaa kneeling with her face at the coach's crotch level as if she's about to give him a blow job. Luckily Garid quickly realizes what's really going on.
  • Offscreen Moment of Awesome: A jerky boy at Davaa's new school makes fun of her for being a country girl, then runs off with a paper that Davaa and her friends were using to pass messages back and forth. Davaa chases after him. They both return, Davaa with the paper in hand, and the mean little boy looking disheveled with straw in his hair.
  • Piggyback Cute: Gender-flipped and platonic, but still cute and funny. Davaa goes out to a nightclub and is unpleasantly surprised to find her judo coach there. However, instead of yelling at her, the judo coach proceeds to get so drunk that Davaa has to carry him home.
  • Romantic Rain: Davaa and Garid have their first kiss after they duck out from the pouring rain into a pedestrian underpass.
  • Tomboy: Davaa, who likes sports and wrestling. Some of her girl friends at her new elementary school try and get her to go to fashion design class with them instead of signing up for judo, but Davaa is not interested.
  • Training Montage: Several, both at Davaa's school when she first gets into judo, and later when she moves up and starts training with the Mongolian Olympic team.