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kǫs (1991)
Fight Back to School

Reviewed by: MrBooth
Date: 11/12/2012
Summary: Slick, shallow and silly Stephen Chiau vehicle

The chief of police's pistol goes missing during a visit from the local school, but as he is approaching retirement he doesn't want the scandal of losing his gun to be widely known - so he recruits boyish SDU member Chow Sing-Sing (Stephen Chiau) to go undercover as a student to recover the gun.

This aspect of the plot (i.e. the actual plot) is then promptly forgotten for about an hour, as Chow arrives at the school and rediscovered his hatred of studying. He is about to abandon the mission when he encounters sexy school teacher Miss Ho (Cheung Man) and decides it might be worth sticking around after all when she volunteers to be his tutor. He also becomes friends, very loosely, with the class geek (Gabriel Wong) and makes an enemy of the school bullies and their Triad Dai Lo (Roy Cheung).

1991 was a breakthrough year for Stephen Chiau - after putting in hard work as a B-list actor in the late 80's and appearing in a remarkable 11 films in 1990, the massive success of ALL FOR THE WINNER propelled him to star status, and he was suddenly in huge demand, and able to make films in his inimitable "mo lei tau" style. FIGHT BACK TO SCHOOL is a fine example of the melange of slapstick, action, romance, underdog story and fish out of water comedy that makes a "Stephen Chiau film" (rather than just being a film with Stephen Chiau in it). The influence of producer Wong Jing is also apparent, whilst director Gordon Chan imparts no detectable style of his own and was presumably in "director for hire" mode.

The plot is fluff, and they know it - which is why they ignore it for most of the film. It's really about giving Chiau a character he can embue with all the charisma he possesses and setting up scenes for him to show it off. Regular sidekick Ng Man-Tat is given a similar amount of free reign with his character, and as usual it is the interplay between Chiau and Ng that produces the film's best moments.

Cheung Man's role is little more than "flower vase", and Roy Cheung is not even remotely taxed as a tough triad. Gabriel Wong gets a bit more of a meaty role, or a geeky snivelling one at least, whilst Karel Wong has little to do except be manifestly inappropriate for Cheung Man but an obstacle Chiau must overcome none-the-less.

There's not a lot to say about the film, really - it's not deep, it's not particularly clever, it's just a vehicle for the comedy antics of Stephen Chiau and Ng Man-Tat. That particular formula was enough to make Stephen Chiau the most bankable star in Hong Kong for a decade or so though, so it's not like the film needed to do a lot more. It's fluff, but it's highly entertaining fluff that's not quite like anything else out there (except other Stephen Chiau films). Unless you're one of the few people who don't like Stephen Chiau films (I'm not sure I've ever met such a person), there's certainly no good reason [i]not[/i] to watch it!

Reviewer Score: 8

Reviewed by: Chungking_Cash
Date: 03/09/2010

Stephen Chow's boyish good looks and juvenile musings make him the perfect foil to a rigid senior male establishment in "Fight Back to School," an early Gordon Chan film, which ultimately made out better at the local box office than "All for the Winner" (1990), Chow's own record-smashing "God of Gamblers" (1989) spin-off released in a sea of the comedian's popular mo lai tau comedies a mere eleven months earlier.

Wong Jing is the film's main benefactor, a bankable suspicion as to why "Fight Back to School" overstays its welcome stretching a sitcom gag to its breaking point that finds Chow planted in an all-boys high school to recover his SDU superior's (writer Barry Wong) stolen pistol.

Thankfully, Chow's gamut of adolescent facial expressions and reliable quips never falter though the film's finale, which sees a number of students shooting at one another with automatic weapons inside the school, produces an unintentional uneasiness in this post-Columbine world.

Reviewer Score: 7

Reviewed by: j.crawford
Date: 06/24/2007

June 2007 - Back in 1991, Stephen Chow Sing-Chi was beginning to soar as the new king of the Hong Kong box office. He was paired with, at the time, a new director named Gordon Chan Ka-Seung who wrote the screenplay with Barry Wong Ping-Yiu, a seasoned writer who worked on many fine projects. Mr. Wong is cast in a pivotal supporting role in Fight Back to School, clearly displaying some solid comedy chops. Sadly, this funny man met an early demise not long after this film was released.

Mr. Chow is teamed with his usual sidekick, Ng Man-Tat, and his usual love interest, the exceptional beauty Cheung Man. The film is quite funny, with Chow trying to pass himself off as a young student. Everyone looks like they are having a good time, particularly Kingdom Yeung King-Tan in a small role as a nerdy teacher with a sharp tongue. Roy Cheung Yiu-Yeung, of course, does a good job playing Roy Cheung playing a young triad boss.

Reviewer Score: 9

Reviewed by: cal42
Date: 07/08/2006
Summary: Good enough.

Cheap and cheerful Chow Sing Chi film that’s more or less fun all the way through (unlike some of his films).

Actually, I like the small-scale nature of this film. Chow goes undercover at a Hong Kong school to recover a stolen police revolver. No drug plots, no threats of world domination, just a police revolver.

Ng Man-Tat is on hand as usual as another undercover agent (faking Parkinson’s disease, in the film’s only off-colour gag). I’m sure there’s some things I’m missing with Chow “Mou Lei Tau”-ing all over the place, but my Cantonese is nowhere near good enough to tell for sure.

The opening scene’s a killer. Really funny.

Reviewer Score: 7

Reviewed by: mrblue
Date: 06/18/2004

After the runaway success of All for the Winner, expectations were set high for Stephen Chow, and he met them with Fight Back to School. It was another huge hit for Chow -- actually breaking the previous box-office record he had set with All for the Winner -- and fully solidified his "moy len tau" (nonsense comedy) style as a viable genre in the cut-throat business of Hong Kong movies. Like most of Chow's movies, Fight Back to School holds up pretty well, even though over a dozen years have passed since its' initial release.

In the film, Chow plays a hot-headed SDU officer who is saved from being kicked off the force by a captain. The captain (who is about to retire and doesn't want to lose any face) had his gun stolen by some visiting students, so he sends Stephen undercover into a school to try and recover the piece. Once inside, he soon runs afoul of both the school's principal and a local gang leader (Roy Cheung). However, with the support of his partner (Ng Man-Tat) and a sympathetic teacher (Cheung Man), Chow soon becomes one of the most popular "kids" at the school. He seems to be close to finishing his case, but soon turns up something that tests his mettle.

Fight Back to School isn't as densely-packed as some of Chow's later films. I'll admit that the plot sounds like a bad episode of "21 Jump Street", but director Gordon Chan keeps things moving at a tight clip. But then again, Chow didn't have to try and outdo himself at this point in his career. Quite simply, Fight Back to School is a fast-paced and, more importantly, funny movie. Even though, for the most part, this is a surprisingly "clean" film, especially considering Wong Jing was involved with it (that probably explains the sequence where Chow chews on a condom like it's bubble gum). At any rate, there are a good amount of laugh-out-loud sequences; the fact that there are several solid action sequences as well (with Chow, as always, doing a great Bruce Lee imitation) is just icing on the cake.

Fight Back to School isn't Chow's best work. It does have a low-budget vibe to it and there a few clumsy attempts at serious dramatics, but any Stephen Chow movie is better than eighty percent of the so-called "comedies" that ooze out from both sides of the ocean. Even though there haven't been too many extraordinary or mind-blowing moments in his work, Stephen Chow is probably the most consistent actor Hong Kong has ever produced. For the most part, you always know what you're going to get and Chow delivers it, with entertaining results. Bottom line is, if you've gotten hyped on Stephen Chow after seeing him in his later movies like Shaolin Soccer and want to check out some of his beginnings, a film like this is an excellent way to start -- and if you're already a fan, you're sure to have a good time.

[review from]

Reviewed by: SteelwireMantis
Date: 03/31/2004
Summary: A funny outing for Chow

Stephen Chow stars in this wacky comedy with a host of Hong Kong stars such as usual sidekick Ng Man Tat, Cheung Man and Roy Cheung.

Chow Sing Sing (Chow) is the number 1 killer in the SDU unit (This obviously looks unimpressive on his resume). Due to his crappy progress, he is sent undercover to find the superintendant's missing gun. The suspects were students of Hong Kong's Edinburgh High School, where Sing is sent undercover as a student. At the school he is teamed up with Tso Tat Wah (Ng) a cop undercover as a caretaker and father of Sing. During the case Sing develops an affection for school nurse Miss Ho (Cheung Man), gets sour with the school bully and spawns a triad gang in the school. Once triad boss Teddy Big (Roy Cheung) holds the school hostage, Chow Sing Sing must expose his true form and save the day.

The reason why some people may not like the 'FBTS' series because they take it way too serious. Like many of Chow's films, this one is just a 'sit-back-and-laugh-your-ass-off' movie. This film features some of the most funniest scenes ever (When Tat beats up Sing, Sing chews a condom, the list is endless). Although you can tell that the fight scene where Sing defends Tat from thugs with baseball bats was obviously inspired by 'Police Story' and references to Chow Yun-Fat and Bruce Lee are made.

All-in-all: good comedy, very funny and if you want to enjoy: DON'T TAKE IT SERIOUSLY!


Reviewer Score: 7

Reviewed by: Neo Cheng
Date: 09/13/2003
Summary: A 3/5 stars movie

Fight Back to School (1991)

Main Genre: Comedy
Movie Substance: Comedy 90%; Action 5%; Drama 5%

Movie Statistics: Acting 3/5; Story 2/5; Tension 4/5; Soundtrack 1/5; Directing 4/5

Genre Statistics: Humor 3/5

Overall Rating: 3/5

'Watch Agian' rating: 3/5

Reviewed by: pjshimmer
Date: 12/05/2002

I have a soft spot for movies that suck first but redeem themselves during the latter portion. This movie is a good example of that kind. The dumb beginning was made up by a good second half.


Reviewed by: crazytigerfong
Date: 03/11/2002
Summary: funny funny stuff!

I laughed so much during this film. Stephen Chow is so goofy and adorable as Chow Sing Sing. He plays the role with aplomb.

The movie has so much to offer; one can get caught up in the romance aspect, or in the comedic aspect, or even in the action aspect; there are so many things that appeal to the viewer. Definitely worth a purchase.

Reviewed by: Inner Strength
Date: 02/14/2002
Summary: Not his greatest, but still funny.

This comes nothing close to All For The Winner, but still quite funny. I found the second movie a lot more enjoyable though!

Worth watching, but don't think I would recommend anyone buying it, although I did a few years ago. Because it's just not very good if you watch it more than once.

Rating (out of 5): 3

(This rating is based on the year & genre, so don't think it's based as a comparison on new releases etc.)

Reviewed by: spanishninja
Date: 06/11/2001
Summary: Classic Chow

One cannot truly appreciate the greatness that is Stephen Chow without checking out the "Fight Back to School" series, which helped firmly establish him as THE top star in HK, and proved that the success of "All for the Winner" wasn't a fluke.

Here, Chow plays Star Chow, a squad leader on a team of SWAT-like SPU of the Hong Kong police force. Although he is a great police officer, he likes to go at it all by himself and has an attitude problem when it comes to working with others and dealing with authority. Thus, he's booted off the SPU and handed a new job: to pose as a student in a local school to retrieve a gun that was apparently stolen by some of the students there. Since Star was never good at school, he struggles a lot initially (leading to numerous chalk eraser attacks -- you'll see). That is, until he meets guidance counselor Miss Ho (Sharla Cheung Man), whom he takes a liking to. Soon, with Miss Ho's help, Star improves at school and also is able to even gain a "following" among his classmates too! From here on, it becomes an action adventure, complete with ridiculous gunfights and action scenes, and of course, the mission accomplished.

Chow is in one of his best forms as Star, and although he doesn't play a mainlander, the typical "guy with only one incredible skill" routine is as evident here as in "Fist of Fury 91" and "All for the Winner". Among other things, Cheung Man does a decent job as Miss Ho, although I didn't especially find the role very deep at all. And who can forget "Scissors Legs" Barry Wong, playing the role of Star's superior?

The first installment of this series is definitely the best, although it probably isn't fair to compare the two sequels to this classic. So if you've got some time to kill and you some good action/comedy (mostly comedy), feel free to take a gander at "Fight Back to School". Rating = 9.5/10

Reviewer Score: 9

Reviewed by: Yellow Hammer
Date: 05/10/2001

Chow Sing Sing (Stephen Chow) is with the Hong Kong Police and is sent on an undercover assignment to try and retrieve his superior's gun. He becomes a student at the school where one of the students supposedly stole the gun. Also stars Cheung Man as the counselor Miss Ho and Ng Man-Tat as Chow Sing Sing's police partner and also undercover fellow (as a janitor). One of my 3 favorite HK movies of all time.

Reviewed by: alienlord
Date: 04/30/2001

A cop is sent undercover at a prestigous school, in order to gather information on illegal acts. Chow lights up the screen in an impressive performance, and his trademark antics are also fun to watch. As with most comedies some of the jokes are completely flat and unfunny, but with this comedy that rarely happens.

Reviewed by: Sydneyguy
Date: 02/28/2001
Summary: Very good

Another example of my Chow Sing Chi is really the KING OF COMEDY!!!

This movie he is a undercover cop in a school and his assistent is......his father?? WEll pretend anyway!!

Lots of laughs which you'll surely enjoy!!


Reviewer Score: 8

Reviewed by: MadMonkey
Date: 12/09/1999

A tie with "From Beijing With Love" as my favorite Stephen Chow flick! If you haven't seen this insanely great film, featuring everyone's fave funnyman Chow as a quick-drawing, hard-boiled (well, sort of) elite police special forces officer who's forced to go undercover as a high school student, your life is shallow and incomplete. :) It's Chow at his best, running through a repertoire of hangdog looks, nifty martial arts moves, and abusive treatment of younger and weaker individuals. Ng Man Tat, as Chow's somewhat reluctant undercover partner, shines as well. It's another homage to GoG III, by the way, since it involves a brain-dead Chow recruiting the entire HK Police Dept. for help over a hidden mobile phone. Cheung Man looks spectacular here, as Chow's lovely class counselor

Reviewer Score: 9

Reviewed by: hokazak
Date: 12/09/1999

Super-Cool young cop Stephen Chow is sent by his superintendent on an undercover assignment in his least favorite place: high school. There, he builds a reputation for being tough, puts some bullies in their place, falls in love with a young teacher (Cheung Man) and actually studies for his test, and finally he must takes on the triads who have infiltrated the school, with the help of some nerds and other new school-friends. Pretty amusing stuff.... (Features the sifu fr. Van Damme's "Kickboxer" in a minor role as a teacher.)

Reviewed by: hkcinema
Date: 12/08/1999

Stephen Chow plays Detective Sing working undercover as a highschool student to find the Commissioner's lost gun. But Sing hates school and has a hard time adjusting until he meets the beautiful school counselor, Miss Ho. Suddenly, life as a student doesn't seem that bad. He settles every problem and succeeds in finding the lost gun. But troubles persist when munition smugglers raid the school and hold a group of students hostage. Sing shows his true abilities by saving all the students. This not only wins him the students' admiration but also Miss Ho's heart.

[Reviewed by Rim Films Catalog]