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Big Brother (2018) Review: A Love Letter for Education

Big Brother tries to show what the ideal teacher is in a preachy and sometimes cheesy way. It also uses excessive exposition to tell the backstory of characters. But by tackling Hongkong's educational problems with warm teacher-student-parent story, the movie is quite enjoyable, touching, and eye-opening. Not to forget, it also has the always powerful Donny Yen's fighting choreography.

Donny Yens plays Henry Chen, a new teacher at Tak Chi school; a school which has funding and student delinquency problems. Being a homeroom teacher, he slowly understands that there are problems outside of school that shapes his students' delinquency.  But that's not the only problem he must face. There are gangsters jeopardize the school. As a teacher with unusual teaching methods, Chen tries to change his students' mindset so they can become great and happy students while keeping the gangster away from the school at the same time.

Donnie Yen has played different roles in his career; from a problematic policeman, legendary martial artist, vampire, to a blind fighter in the galaxy far far away. Undeniably, the actor has been able and does his best to portray different characters in different genres. And Big Brother movie again proves that he is a versatile actor.
review film big brother
Donny Yen in Big Brother, via YouTube
Playing a homeroom teacher, Yen proves that he is not only able to play serious or calm characters. He successfully portrays an optimistic and cheerful teacher who always radiates positive energy. He becomes a "Big Brother" who is always ready to help his students and colleagues whenever he can.

Big Brother is like a mix of GTO series and movies like Equalizer or John Wick. Henry Chen is not only a teacher with an unorthodox teaching method. He also has a dark and dangerous past that certainly makes other people don't want to mess with him.

The difference is, Big Brother is not always about a teacher who tries to win the hearts of his students nor the stories of a badass teacher who eradicate or takes revenge to the bad guys.

And do not expect this movie will give you endless fighting scenes because there's only a handful of them. However, despite that, the battle scenes still feel awesome and powerful, proof of how advanced Donnie Yen and Hong Kong cinema's regarding action sequences.

A love letter for education

This film more focuses on highlighting problems in education, both in Hong Kong and the world in general. Starting from the funding problems experienced by a school, wrong teaching methods (according to the movie), student's passion, to students' depression problems.

Luckily, Big Brother is still trying to be realistic. There are problems that can be solved and some cannot; such as the increase of suicides of high school students in Hong Kong caused by depression.
big brother movie 2018 donny yen
Donny Yen in Big Brother, via IMDb
It is an interesting and eye-opening movie about education. However, many scenes of Chen's helping his students and his school presented in a very preachy manner with those cheesy and catchy pop music played in the background. Maybe for some people who always try to avoid these two things in a movie will be having a hard time. Moreover, the mysteries are revealed with unnecessary and excessive exposition.

Fortunately, the warm and touching relationship between teachers, students, and parents presented throughout the movie creates a pleasant feeling. It's a good vibe movie. This movie tells us that the success and happiness of a student cannot be separated from the role of the teacher and also the parents.

Big Brother movie is eye-opening and reflects the tremendous concern, hope, and support from Donnie Yen and all of the people involved in the movie towards education. A love letter for education.

Rating: 3 (It's an okay movie)
Genre: Aksi, drama
Director: Ka-Wai Kam
Writer: Tai-lee Chan
Cast: Donnie Yen, Joe Chen, Kang Yu

This review was previously published in Indonesian on

Haris Syukri
Haris Syukri I just wanna write everything I saw on screens

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