Fight Back to School

A fun mix of humor and action as Stephen Chow plays a cop who has to go undercover at University by pretending to be a student. His mission is to recover a pistol that was stolen from a police captain who likes to use it to scratch his back. You know not to take this too seriously in the first few moments as Chow in a police training exercise stops to put eye drops in and then balm on his lips as his comrades around him are putting on gas masks and preparing to attack.
Barry Wong, Stephen Chow and Cheung Man
Once in school his hardest task turns out to be staying in school as he remembers nothing from his schooldays and wants nothing to do with studying and this leads to many funny gags. At the end he has to battle the Triad to save the students. He gets some assistance from Ng Man-Tat and his tutor Cheung Man - never looking lovelier than here. Chow shows some fairly nifty martial art moves here as his physical abilities are amazing to watch. Though this is in many ways one of Chow's more conventional comedic efforts, it is consistently amusing and rarely takes a minute to catch it's breath.
Gabriel Wong, Chow and Cheung Man

My rating for this film: 8.0

Reviewed by YTSL

In the last couple of weeks or so, I finally checked out two early 1990s hit Hong Kong comedies that spawned a few sequels and imitators, and continue to have their share of fans.  Although “Her Fatal Ways” may have had more political resonance to those who (first) viewed it before the 1997 Handover, the 1990 offering that had Carol “Dodo” Cheng in the lead role as a highly patriotic and largely no-nonsense Mainland Chinese policewoman still managed to majorly endear itself to me.  Alternatively, despite it being a film that looks to be devoid of elements that would “date” it (and/or are all that singularly culturally specific), the 1991 Wong Jing production that had Stephen Chow’s cop character -- who is named as Star Chow in the English subtitles but is clearly being referred to as Chow Sing Sing in the Cantonese dubbed version of the work -- going on an undercover mission in a top flight high school actually turned out to be much less of a laugh riot than I had expected that it would be.

Roy Cheung, Ng Man Tat, Cheung Man and Chow
As strange as it may seem to some people, this (re)viewer suspects that one reason why she found this to be so is that FIGHT BACK TO SCHOOL lacks the emotional depth and core -- as well as maturity -- of those Stephen Chow films that she really loves (E.g., “God of Cookery”, “Forbidden City Cop”, “King of Comedy”, and “Shaolin Soccer” -- all of which may not be coincidentally that which were made later in Sing Jai’s career than this offering plus bear his truly special auteurial imprint).  In any case, there seems to be a throwaway -- rather than a “merely” abundantly casual plus out and out nonsensical -- feel to the Gordon Chan directed and co-scripted work that I felt that I couldn’t help but pick up on.  Additionally, even while I’m sure that there are folks out there who reckon otherwise, I honestly don’t feel like there’s even one genuine “killer” scene or absolutely stand out visual gag -- like “Flirting Scholar”’s human paint-brush and ad hoc rhythmic rap session, never mind poetry reciting duel -- that I can point to as not only having “made” the movie for me but also being of the type that could not have taken place in any other offering besides it.
Chow, Tse Wai Kit and Cheung Man
Still, this is not to say that FIGHT BACK TO SCHOOL entirely failed to make me smile, snigger and even chuckle on occasion.  This is not least because I do find the suitably wide range as well as large number of supremely “pissed and cheesed off” facial expressions exhibited by this movie’s star -- who here is playing the kind of smart aleck individual who thoroughly deserves the temporary comeuppance that he experiences but also the redemption that comes after he learns to be a team member and leader (as opposed to a selfish plus show-off Rambo type personality) -- to be pretty funny.  I also take my hat off to Hong Kong Cinema’s undisputed King of Comedy for his willingness to be the sacrificial target of more than one individual with a steady aim, strong arm and a ready supply of heavily chalk powdered blackboard dusters.
Chow, Paul Chun Pui and Dennis Chan
FIGHT BACK TO SCHOOL benefits too from the on-screen presence of co-scriptwriter Barry Wong (as the police superintendent who -- like with another police chief he played in “God of Gamblers III: Back to Shanghai -- is famed for his Scissor Legs maneuver as well as being the eccentric individual whose missing favorite plus “kind” pistol Stephen Chow’s character has been charged with safely retrieving).  Another of this quite entertaining -- even if indisputably juvenile plus often just plain silly -- movie’s actors who possesses the kind of physical features as well as personality that’s hard to forget is Gabriel Wong (whose Turtle Wong character is the mischievous student who’s so nicknamed because that slow-moving animal is what quickly plus amusingly comes to mind when you look at the bespectacled human being who plays him!).  Someone else who fits this bill -- for better or worse -- is Ng Man Tat (whose familiar Uncle Tat character has a rather predictable supporting role in the film as a fellow put-upon undercover policeman who masquerades as problem student Sing’s father as well as the school’s humble head cleaner).
Ng Man Tat and Karel Wong
Other recognizable faces that can be spotted among FIGHT BACK TO SCHOOL’s quite large sized cast include that of Roy Cheung (as a gun-trading Triad boss who mistakenly thinks that Sing is trying to establish a rival presence in his territory), Tse Wai Kit (a young actor who doesn’t seem to have played anything other than schoolboys or young Triads!) and Paul Chun Pui (in blustery mode as the Edinburgh College head who did not realize for much of this film that Sing was anything other than an initially underachieving student who benefits enormously from the tutoring help given to him by the too cool -- maybe even cold -- for my liking Cheung Man’s Miss Ho character).  The likes of Dennis Chan (as the school’s head of discipline) and Karel Wong (as the police boyfriend of the movie’s main female) also make appearances -- but not much of an impact -- in a generally light-hearted work that is not entirely bloodless and actually does contain some notable action sections (in which people get killed as well as injured).

My rating for this film: 6.5