My Schoolmate The Barbarian (HK 2001)

Rating: **
Review Date: 9/5/04
Produced, Directed, and Written by: Wong Jing
Action Director: Ching Siu Tung
Cast: Stephen Fung, Nicholas Tse, Joey Yung

Ugh. This is not the movie that the trailer wants you to believe it is. Instead of a dark and edgy fighting film, this is just another goofy Wong Jing comedy. Unfortunately, this is obscured by the fact that one director is listed on the front of the box, another director is listed on the back of the box, and then in tiny letters on the bottom of the box it says "directed by Wong Jing." What's up with that? Anyway, the film introduces us to the rough and brutal Tai Bing high school, where student disputes are settled by fighting after school. The rules are simple: The "ring" is made up of a bunch of desks put together, and the first one to fall on the floor loses the match. Edward (charming Stephen Fung) is a smart rich kid who gets expelled from his high ranking school as a result of being framed by his backstabbing ex-girlfriend. Through a contrived comedy of errors, he ends up at TBS and gets beaten up by Big Dog, the current king of the ring. He meets the handsome and brooding Rock (Nicholas Tse), who was the reigning King Of Fighters until he mysteriously retired. Rock agrees to teach Edward how to defend himself, and in turn Edward agrees to tutor Rock so that he can pass the dreaded graduation exam. Throw in a nerdy girl named Phoenix (Joey Yung) who has a crush on Edward, and our band of goofy misfits is complete.

As you would expect from Wong Jing, most of the film is silly, misogynistic, and mean-spirited humor, with an occasional dark and biting edge to it. The characters are as silly and outrageous as the story is, so you never really care about anyone. Unbelievably, Jing revisits his previous antics from "City Hunter" (1992) and "Future Cops" (1993) by including video game footage from Capcom's "Project Justice" (2000). That's right, the secret to winning fights in real life is to play video games... Gack. Pretty much everything about the film is tedious and ridiculous, but the four fight scenes are pretty exciting. While the editing can be frustrating, Ching Siu Tung's action direction is riveting, and all of the players are extremely capable athletes. While the infrequent fight scenes aren't enough to save the movie, they're quite entertaining on their own.