A high school is in crisis, the students are under-performing and preoccupied with non-academic activities. Henry Chen, aka Big Brother, a teacher with rather rusty writing skills yet armed with the most knowledgeable fists and heart of steel, comes to enlighten and inspire the students with his unconventional teaching methods. Just as the kids are improving their work and enjoying the merits of the educational system, trouble follows. An opportunistic entrepreneur creates havoc by sending in a motley gang of fighters to win over the land. Their approach, however, isn't all that persuasive with Chen as he and his beloved class are going to give the unwelcome guests the benefits of a real education.Written by
Big Brother is a highly entertaining movie that mixes social drama with some martial arts action elements. The movie tells the story of a veteran with a troubled past who comes back to his former Hong Kong high school to work there as a social science teacher. The school faces several problems such as reduced funds, obsolete infrastructures and difficult students. The protagonist uses quite unusual strategies to help his students and invests a lot of energy and time to solve their individual problems. While he soon gets along with his students, his colleagues and the principal are quick to criticize him and Henry Chen soon realizes that being a teacher might become his biggest challenge yet.
Donnie Yen's latest movie is so efficient because it combines social drama and action scenes in a very balanced way. The plot is quite mature, profound and serious. The occasional fight scenes offer welcome breaks from the intense content. The film convinces with intriguing characters that have troubled pasts. Viewers will connect with the war veteran who was everything but an obedient student, his former friend and antagonist who wasn't given the chance to realize his dreams and especially the students who have serious problems such as poverty, criminality and addictions. The film comes around with life-affirming, optimistic and positive message that are truly inspiring, especially if you are a student or teacher yourself.
Some people might criticize that this film features less spectacular fights than other movies starring Donnie Yen but this reduced and realistic approach suits the film very well. Other people might argue that such an intense social drama would be better off without any big fights at all but the serious content is much easier to digest with these vivid sequences. Big Brother leaves the trodden path, tries out an unusual combination of genres and succeeds almost perfectly to my very positive surprise.
If you like social dramas and martial arts films, you will adore this movie that turns out being one of the best in Donnie Yen's impressive career. The content, messages and vibe of the movie will make you think even long after the movie is over. Big Brother is a film for your body, brain and heart and one of the most positive surprises of the year.
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