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My School Mate, the Barbarian
"Hold still, Wong Jing!"      "Would you care for a cigarette, little girl?"

(left) Nicholas Tse at the plate, and (right_ Joey Yung and Stephen Fung.
Chinese: 我的野蠻同學  
Year: 2001  
Director: Wong Jing, Billy Chung Siu-Hung  
Producer: Wong Jing  
Writer: Wong Jing  
Action: Ching Siu-Tung  
Cast: Nicholas Tse Ting-Fung, Stephen Fung Tak-Lun, Joey Yung Tso-Yi, Samuel Pang King-Chi, Yu Ka-Ho, Ng Chi-Hung, Fung Wai-Hung
The Skinny: Ching Siu-Tung's action makes this film worth checking out, but the uninteresting subplots and lame comedy prevent an unabashed thumbs-up.
 
Review
by Kozo:

Stephen Fung is Edward, a rich high school kid who accidentally gets enrolled in seedy TBS College instead of the prestigious private school he was supposed to get into. TBS College is apparently the Battle Royale college of Hong Kong. The ritual here is for kids to settle their differences through one-on-one fisticuffs without any teachers present. The teachers actually know but don't get involved, which is yet another fine argument for public education. 

Edward immediately gets saddled with smarmy rivals, but he does find an ally: Stone (Nicholas Tse), the undisputed King of Fighters. However, Stone hasn't fought in six months and current top dog Mantis (Samuel Pang) wants Stone in the ring so they can see who's the toughest of all. Stone doesn't care to fight Mantis, but he will help Edward learn the ropes so he can fend for himself in the ring. However, Stone has his own issues, and Mantis isn't content to let Stone avoid fighting him. Plus there's a kidnapping case and the obligatory high school romance between Edward and classmate Fung (Joey Yung).

Wong Jing wrote and co-directed this promising action picture that devolves beneath the usual Wong Jing bag of tricks. The action sequences are very well done, featuring some great over-the-top fighting choreographed by Ching Siu-Tung. Stephen Fung and Nicholas Tse handle the fight sequences well, and newcomer Samuel Pang shows considerable screen presence. The best parts of My School Mate, the Barbarian occur when the characters are forced to fight toe-to-toe, as the fighting is energetic, brutal and exciting.  

But they're not the whole movie. The rest of the film involves making friends (Stone has intimacy issues), studying harder (Edward helps his new delinquent buddies pass the qualifying exams), and getting along with the opposite sex. For the last plotline, Wong Jing has enlisted popular singer Joey Yung, who's photogenic and cute, but also incredibly annoying. She's afflicted with one of those rare medical diseases you only find in Hong Kong Cinema: Every time she sees Edward, she starts screaming and runs away in fast motion. It's funny the first time, but afterwards it just gets tiresome.

Then there's the video game connection. Like we learned with Future Cops, Wong Jing loves his video games. One of the key fights involves moves inspired by arcade fighting games, complete with points given onscreen. Like Yung's antics, that's amusing once but after a period of time it just looks silly. This swinging between tough over-the-top action and lame hijinks worked great back in the eighties, but it just comes off as cloying and unnecessary here.

If his filmography is any indication, director Billy Chung probably would have made an edgier picture if left to his devices. But remember, Wong Jing wrote, produced and co-directed this thing. As it is, this movie is a hodge-podge of genres that never amounts to much more than a passing curiosity. The fighting can be fun, but if you have a fast-forward button you may want to use it. (Kozo 2001)

 
Availability: DVD (Hong Kong)
Region 0 NTSC
Deltamac
Widescreen
Cantonese and Mandarin Language Tracks
Dolby Digital 5.1
Removable English and Chinese Subtitles
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image courtesy of Deltamac Co., Ltd.

   
   
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