(This is Big Brother film review, which is a 2018 Hong Kong action drama film that has a premise where Donnie Yen acts as an ex-military man who becomes a teacher in a class full of problematic students)
This is perhaps one of those films where you would least expect Donnie Yen to be starred in as the main lead. With him already making his name internationally and locally with both Star Wars and Ip Man series respectively, one would never imagine him playing the role of a teacher. This film is directed by Kam Ka Wai, and is actually produced by Yen himself. In a way, this becomes his own passion project where he tries to play something different other than as a Kung Fu Master or as a blind man with the force. Without further ado, let’s delve into the Big Brother film review below to find out how it fares!
When a school that contains a class full of problematic students is about to be closed down and pave way for construction of housing projects, a teacher appears to register to teach that class. Henry Chen is actually an ex-military soldier who decides to teach his students the right course of life. Would he be able to succeed before it’s all too late?
Big Brother Film Review
Man! This film kind of hits a nostalgic note for me as it almost resembles the premise of GTO: Great Teacher Onizuka! In fact, 90% of the film is similar to it and others of a similar genre. Basically, a teacher who uses unconventional methods to instill moral lessons to his students and make them walk the right path. Sadly, the movie provides not many original ideas other than the school about to be bulldozered down.
Worse than GTO, the film skips much of the crucial parts that make such premise more interesting. It feels like the film decides to remove the scenes where Henry interacts with the students’ parents etc, as most of the time the parents/relatives of the students suddenly has a change of heart for no apparent reason other than to make the story flow. The interaction with the students is more interesting and in-depth, thankfully, though they remain predictable. Pacing wise, it’s fast and seems to be in a hurry, which is understandable when they try to cram a 20 volume of GTO manga into a 1.5-hour movie. It works in its favour, yet it also sacrifices many of the intimate/dramatic moments that could have been shown to make us empathise with the students/parents more.
The characters are, unfortunately, a bit of mixed bag. I like some of the diversity shown like there is a student who has a Philippine root and is the 2nd generation of his family in HK. It shows the common stereotype and also the problems that only the minorities face in HK, such as being caught/suspected for gambling or money laundering etc. Then we have the common students with family problems that are either of a single parent, cared by grandparents or not treated fairly due to genders. Most of them are decent, but also not as memorable. Henry Chen himself is pretty cool when action scenes are involved, and some of them are pretty legit sick! His way of teaching the students are equally interesting and I like how he interacts with many of the students. However, that’s it from the characters, where we don’t see much character growth that we would like to from the film. Lastly, the soundtrack is decent with a mix of some popular English pop songs and some Cantonese pop as well.