Big Brother may not be as action-packed as fans would like but it’s surprisingly moving and well acted with Donnie Yen giving one of his best performances to date.
Plot: A soldier-turned-high school teacher uses unusual methods to reach to a class of poor students, while dealing with a greedy entrepreneur and his gang of fighters as well as the government.
Review: Big Brother features Donnie Yen as you’ve never seen him before and Harry Chen may well be one of his best characters to date. If you go in expecting something like Flashpoint or one of his more hardcore action movies then you may be disappointed as this isn’t that kind of film.
If anything Big Brother is the feelgood action movie of the year which is something I’d never thought I would say. It isn’t packed to the brims with action but is really more of an inspirational character piece which is clearly a passion project for Donnie Yen. He wants to improve the school system in China by giving kids hope that they can do what they want in life if they work for it.
It sounds cheesy and I suppose it is a little trite but the film is filled with such optimism that I just got swept up by it as it’s so simple to be cynical about the world today.
I wish I had a teacher like Mr. Chen growing up; instead in Scotland I had teachers describe me as “a little slow” and “struggles with basic tasks”.
Chen is in no way a realistic character but Yen’s easy on screen charm makes him immediately appealing and he is more of an ideal of what teachers could strive for in helping youngsters find their way out of their troubled lives whether it be family problems, gangs or worse.
We really get to know and feel for all the kids in this movie and at times I’ll admit the theatre got a little dusty as their problems were all too believable. It was genuinely moving which caught me off-guard and the cast all gave fantastic performances so you are emotionally engaged throughout.
As I stated above there isn’t much in the way of action for the first half with the fight scene in the locker room arguably the film’s highlight. Keep your eyes open for Brahim Achabbakhe and Mike Leeder who show up for this scene. I did find that at times it was a little hard to follow the action as the camera got too close but it was still nicely choreographed with Donnie Yen proving he still has the moves.
Overall, Big Brother is the most inspirational action movie of the year with a likable cast and Donnie Yen at his finest; it may lack lots of action but it more than makes up for it in heart.