Big Brother (2018) - Hong Kong
Reviewed by Andrew Chan (Film Critic Circle of Australia)
Being a pet passion project for Donnie Yen, “Big Brother” is a good film that is equally emotional, engaging and also provides enough well meaning social commentary to boot. It is rare that the best moments in a Donnie Yen film is not a fight scene, but rather Yen as teacher helping his students in out of the box fashion in loggerhead with the out dated and highly competitive Hong Kong education system.
Yen has always been a visionary, his films in the 90s showed his passion, and despite being low-budgeted and bottom out box office returns, they were films that showed a filmmaker with a mind and wanting to express his frustration on society and systems. After years of successful blockbusters and Ip Man films, Yen once again earned himself the rights to do a risky project and on a much larger scale and the effect is one of his better and grounded films in the past decade.
Yen plays a former US military personnel turned Hong Kong high school teacher and created a rounded character for the inspiring role. In the film two prominent fight scenes, Yen does not disappointing with plenty of MMA style action display. It is the supporting cast of younger actors that steals the show, newcomer Bruce Tong and Chris Tong are both convincing as brothers facing a drunken father, Gladys Li continues to shows her natural talent, Luo Mingjie is given the meaty role in a fight against gangster and a loving grandma living in poverty. Perhaps in line with the #metoo and diversity movements, Pakistani Gordon Lau is given a rare dimensional character to play with.
All in all, “Big Brother” is well directed and executed by Kam Ka Wai and Donnie Yen’s passion is easily felt throughout the film message about teaching holistically and pitfalls of the structured Hong Kong educational system that contains more flaws than good. Yen rises some very good questions about reality and meaning of life and also the duty of students and teachers. Both my parents are teachers and it’s clearly not an easy job if one want to make a difference and help the next generation go on with their dreams and be the pillars of our society. This film shows that there is more to Yen than action movies and it excels as well.
I rated it 8/10