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Review Big Brother a.k.a. Dai si hing (2018): Predictable and flawed feel good film!

genre: action, drama, comedy

Let me start by saying that I really like Donnie Yen and appreciate most of his work. I say most because he has made some choices that I don't agree with at all. However I do have to admit that I like him at his best when he makes full on martial arts / action flicks. Obviously Big Brother is nothing like this. But is it worth your time?

Once this was announced and the trailer was shown I had a pretty good idea what it was going to be about. So when it came to my expectations action wise I knew that I had to lower them. The story about the kids and the teacher would be at the center. And while it sort of goes there it didn't do nearly what it should have done. There is nothing wrong with melodrama as long as it is actually backed up by compelling stories. The problem is that the drama very rarely feels sincere and real. If it truly was Donnie Yen's intention for the viewer to pay attention to the school system in Hong Kong then he should have put in more effort to make events believable. I am not saying his heart wasn't in the right place. I am sure he was. But in order to be convincing you have to point out the real pressing issues and I don't think Donnie Yen and director Kam Ka-Wai really achieved this. Most of the cast are likable and you sort of feel their pain. But they way their issues are solved is incredibly simplified and patronizing. Like the parents and the kids couldn't have come up with those solutions themselves. I must admit that when I was watching events and see them play out I could enjoy them because of Yen's charm. The kids also did a good job especially with the lackluster material they were given. They aren't the problem. 

It's the morality and the tone that is pretty disturbing. Again I don't think the intentions were bad. But to simplify highly complicated and deep issues like these it's doing an injustice to the people who struggle with them. But ok, once you can look past this there still is the lack of comedy and adventure. There are plenty of Asian films who have been able to combine comedy and adventure with drama very successfully. Even to the point where the action for example was very hard hitting and exciting. Something that should have been no problem for Donnie. And he delivers kind off. There is one big action sequence in the middle of the film and a shorter one at the end. It's very serviceable. But for his standards quite tame and unimaginative. To be honest I wasn't truly expecting that much but combined with the weak storytelling the film simply didn't resonate with me.

It's very clear where the film wanted me to be at at the end and I got there because I can't fault feel good films even if they are bad. Yes I am sucker like that sometimes. But I still feel heavily disappointed with the potential that is wasted. Within the film there was a flashback to Henry Chen's past military life. I honestly would have rather watched a film about that. 

So is this worth your time? If this would be airing on on TV and you had nothing better to do then yes. In any other case this is one I can't recommend to people since it's a very disappointing affair. 

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