My School Mate, the Barbarian
AKA: My Schoolmate the Barbarian, My School Mate Barbarian, My Schoolmate Barbarian, My Classmate the Barbarian, My Class Mate Barbarian
Year of release: 2001
Directors: Wong Jing, Billy Chung
Action director: Ching Siu-Tung
Producer: Wong Jing
Writer: Wong Jing
Cinematography: Dick Tung
Editor: Poon Hung
Music: Lincoln Lo, Tommy Wai
Stars: Nicholas Tse, Stephen Fung, Joey Yuen, Samuel Pang, Ken Chung, Yu Ka-Ho, Helen Poon, Frankie Ng
Rated IIB for violence and language
Movie review index
Producer, writer, and director Wong Jing mashes up Fight Club with a high school comedy and a dash of video game beat-em-ups in My School Mate, the Barbarian, a film that manages to be entertaining (albeit in a very brainless way) despite a lack of originality and more than a bit of laziness in the script department.
The film re-teams the popular on-screen duo (and offscreen friends) Nicholas Tse and Stephen Fung and plants them into TBS, the worst high school in Hong Kong, where underground fights, not studying, is the order of the day. Nic Tse plays Rock, currently the top dog in the ring. Rock takes in Edward (Stephen Fung) as a protoge, on the condition that Edward helps him study for the upcoming finals.
And, ummm... there's really not much more than that. Rock has a rival in Mantis (Samuel Pang), Edward begins a romance with Phoenix (Joey Yung), and there's a mean Triad messing with the kids at school. The main plot, along with its' offshoots, have very obvious resolutions which the viewer will put together very quickly. Even knowing this, Wong Jing seems to struggle in how to stretch out the running time.
In a manner typical of Wong, during the finale, he has the heroes use moves lifted from the video game Rival Schools, even going so far as to include footage from the game, which, not surprisingly, he didn't have the actual rights to use. This could rightly be taken as a bit of sloppy film-making, but it's also a bit genius, since the game itself references some of the same ideas presented in the movie. Of course, this is pre-supposing that Wong thought that deeply into matters, which is a crapshoot from day to day, given how badly his horse is losing at the track, or if Chingmy Yau returned his calls.
Anyway, even taking into account the spotty pacing and overall generic feeling presented here, My School Mate, the Barbarian still comes recommended, especially if you are a fan of the actors involved. The movie gets by a lot on the star power and charisma of Nic Tse and Stephen Fung, which is not necessarily a bad thing, since they are two of the better young actors working in Hong Kong. If you're in the mood for a breezy popcorn movie, My School Mate, the Barbarian will definitely fit the bill.