Michael Scott

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Apr 4, 2017
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Big Brother


Movie: :3stars:
Video: :4stars:
Audio: :4stars:
Extras: :halfstar:
Final Score: :3stars:


It’s not that often that a multi-millionaire action star like Donnie Yen leverages his own personal money against a didactic film like Big Brother that is considered a “high risk” product vs. his normal bigger budgeted action fare. Especially when it’s a feel good comedy about the flawed education system in Honk Kong (ironically mirroring the U.S.’s floundering education system as well). It’s co-produced and starred by the legendary action film, and is actually better than it has any right to be for such an obvious pull at the heart and social justice strings of the movie goers. The movie is goofy, syrupy sweet, and yanks at all of the “go get em!” cliches while still being rather fun and endearing at the same time. Yen obviously has a heart and conscience for the downtrodden midst his native school system, and his enthusiasm and clear exuberance for the subject matter elevates the film from it’s rather genre ridden tropes.

Tak Chi secondary school (equivalent to our high school really) is failing in many ways. It’s students aren’t being accepted to high ranking universities, and the students are becoming more and more unruly as the staff is losing confidence in their ability to teach them. The schoolmaster has just been informed that if the student’s acceptance rates don’t increase, then Tak Chi will be shut down by the government for good. However, things change when a mysterious new teacher named Henry Chan (Donnie Yen) comes in to teach liberal arts. His teaching style is unique. His attitude unlike any other teachers, but Henry Chan has a passion for one thing. Teaching and reaching his students.

While the students of Tak Chi class B6 are a bit of a problem, Henry Chan is up to the fight. He’s everything cool that you could ever want. An ex marine in the U.S., a student of psychology, he wears a blue collar denim outfit, and he can fight better than most MMA stars (and gets to fight some MMA stars in one of the film’s two fight scenes), but his unique assets make him invaluable to the school. The film delves into the troubled lives of 5 of his students, including a girl who wants to drive race cars (who’s father doesn’t accept her as a girl), an ADHD student with depression and his brother who live with their alcoholic father, a Pakistani student who wants to be a pop star, and a boy living with his grandmother and working for a mobster.
Big Brother is RIDICULOUSLY cliched, and kind of a blend between Patch Adams and Dangerous Minds. It’s got your traditional tropes about poorer students in a run down university and the teacher that wants to reach them, as well as some over exuberant “you go get em!” messages about working harder and doing better than what other people tell you that you are. However, it’s that over exuberance that makes Big Brother better than it should be. Sure, the themes are cliched and the tropes well worn, but Donnie Yen really gives this film his all and puts his heart and soul into the emotionally reactive film. It’s not just another film for him, but rather an obvious passion project regarding the failing school system in Hong Kong, and his extra excitement and energy helps elevate the cliched film.

If you’re expecting a film full of typical Donnie Yen fights, then you’ll be disappointed. However, if you’re looking for a film that champions the human spirit and has a few fight scenes in it as well (there are two major ones, which actually deliver the goods despite the younger nature of the concept) then you’re better prepared. The film may not be an instant classic for Donnie Yen, but it’s a fun enough genre film that is heartwarming and cheesily entertaining at the same time.


Not Rated by the MPAA

Video: :4stars:
Big Brother comes to Blu-ray with a stable looking image from Well Go USA film productions in 2.39:1 framing. The film doesn’t have much information on the cameras used, but I’d be confident in saying that it most likely is a digital production, and the end results are quite pleasing. The glossy looking film is rather bright and colorful, with a slight blue and gold tinge to the color grading. Colors are bright and well saturated, while fine details are excellent to good depending on the situation (there are some soft shots throughout the film, especially inside the school). Blacks are good for the most part, but I noticed some slight banding here and there. It’s a great looking disc for sure, and despite some minor softness and artifacting, makes for an excellent watch.

Audio: :4stars:
The 5.1 DTS-HD MA track (the box states Dolby TrueHD 5.1, but the actual disc has DTS-HD MA on it) fares as well as the video does. It’s a good mix with active surrounds during the fight scenes, and a rather straight forward and front heavy mix for the more dramatic elements. The action sequences are few and far between, but the subs and surrounds get to come out and play during the go kart race as well as several more robust arguing scenes. LFE is punchy and clean, but it’s not wildly deep and powerful, even for the action scenes. Basically, it’s a good track that does everything well, but never truly excels.

Extras: :halfstar:
• Theatrical Trailers

• Well Go USA Trailers

Final Score: :3stars:

Big Brother is NOT going to be a classic film by any standard, and it’s bogged down by an over abundance of cliches and “feel good” tropes that are surrounded by top 40s American pop music, random American phrases, and a CGI eagle to drive home the message of heroism. It’s cheap, rather cheesy, but somehow actually enjoyable due to the sheer enthusiasm and exuberance of Donnie Yen. He really does put his heart and soul into the production, and his excitement is infectious. I actually had a good time despite the movie’s flaws and was kind of sad when it ended. Well Go USA gives us some great audio and video specs, with some minimalist extras, but it’s still worth a watch if you’re a fan of Yen or high school dramas.

Technical Specifications:

Starring: Donnie Yen, Joe Chen, Kang Yu, Wai-Ho Auyeung, Tom Caserto, Alfred Cheung, Jai Day, Ka Wah Lam, Billy Lau
Directed by: Ka-Wai Kam
Written By: Tai-lee Chan
Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1 AVC
Audio: Cantonese: DTS-HD MA 5.1, Cantonese DD 2.0
Subtitles: English, Cantonese
Studio: Well Go USA
Rated: NR
Runtime: 101 Minutes
Blu-ray Release Date: May 21st, 2019

Recommendation: Decent Watch

Last edited:


AV Enthusiast
Jul 13, 2017
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Thanks for the review. I am curious on this one so will see it once on amazon prime/netflix. :)
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