Today we begin to wrap things up for the sixth annual Ultimate Decades Blogathon. Starting the closing festivities is my wonderful co-host Kim. I can’t say enough how much you need to be following her blog, Tranquil Dreams, but I’ll say it again: you need to follow her blog. She posts on a variety of topics and I guarantee she has something there you will like. Kim specializes in Asian cinema, which is the topic of her post here today. For her second post of the blogathon, Kim shares her review of the 1991 Chinese film Fight Back To School.
Fight Back To School (1991)
Director (and co-writer): Gordon Chan
Cast: Stephen Chow, Man Cheung, Man-Tat Ng, Roy Cheung, Chi Yeung Wong, Gabriel Wong, Barry Wong, Dennis Chan, King-Tan Yuen
“A SWAT team leader is going undercover at a high school to retrieve a stolen gun for his captain. – IMDB
The 90s movies of Hong Kong brought in a lot of highlights. One of these being Stephen Chow’s films as a comedic actor and his pair-up with Man-Tat Ng. His comedy style gave life to the comedy sub genre called “mo lei tau”, perhaps better interpreted in English as absurd humor. Perhaps rather unknown to most until 2001’s Shaolin Soccer which also happened to be the pair’s final movie together. With Man-Tat Ng’s recent passing (this past weekend), it felt like the perfect time to pay him some respect and the duo that accompanied me throughout my youth. Fight Back To School wasn’t exactly top of my list in terms of this pair’s movies but other than the God of Gamblers series that pulled in Stephen Chow as the Saint of Gamblers role, Fight Back To School eventually became a trilogy.
Fight Back To School starts off on a fairly normal sounding undercover job, probably nothing unseen or rather familiar at this point. However, for fans of this genre, nothing is as it seems. Right off the bat, the first moments set up the character of Star Chow (Stephen Chow) as he disregards his teammates lives in an Special Units drill and gets transferred where his captain now sees his youthful appearance and selects him as the candidate bringing in the terms of a “kind gun that hasn’t ever been fired” which need to be found before his retirement and the supposedly threatening “scissor legs” that could break him in two if he didn’t follow orders. Silly terms, pun jokes and hilarious reactions plus character traits is what builds this film up especially for Stephen Chow’s Star Chow and Man-Tat Ng’s Uncle Tat, a familiar play on their own names in most of their movies.
There’s a lot to enjoy about this film. There’s a highlight on many high school elements whether it’s the reputation of a prestigious school and the tough school rules that need to be abided or the bullies as well as the teachers. There’s a lot of different characters here. A lot being a keyword. Other than the two main pairing, there are some familiar faces in here as well, building up quite a nice cast with staff being played by supporting roles from Paul Chun, King-Tan Yuen and Dennis Chan. Playing as the triad boss that the bad students were under dealing with the bigger crime plot was Roy Cheung, which has made a name for himself in the 90s in the villain roles. With that said, the female lead here is the teacher, played by Man Cheung whose career takes a turn after her role in 1989’s God of Gamblers and 1990’s All For The Winner (both in the big God of Gambler’s franchise) and once again reunites with Stephen Chow as a love interest.
1991 was a great year for Stephen Chow and still a rather early start for their pairing with Man-Tat Ng as it also had movies like Tricky Brains, God of Gamblers Part III and perhaps the main reason for this choice as there will never be a chance to see them on the big screen and a nice memory to revisit one of their films that I’ve seen not too much but have been meaning to rewatch. It was a great reminder that there are some great moments in Fight Back To School that makes it a lot of fan’s favorite as well. As an ending note, my own 90s included a lot of Stephen Chow and Man-Tat Ng and while their jokes doesn’t always land in translation, they have great absurd humor in terms of facial expressions and reactions which makes them a hilarious pairing and well worth a visit if you haven’t explored their films yet.
If you’ve missed any of the entries, you can find a list of them all here.