Teacher Without Chalk, The
Director: Albert Mak
Cast: Nick Cheung, Yoyo Mung, Komatsu Takuya, Chapman To
This film totally inherits the style of Stephen Chiau/Wong Jing's early 90s comedies (i.e. Tricky Brain). It has an illogical plot and tons of crazy gags. If you do not find Hong Kong street humors funny, this is probably the kind of film you should avoid.
The story of the film is wacky. It is about how a low class triad member Ying (Nick Cheung) becomes a high school teacher and how he molds the worst group of students in the school back into good students. A triangular love relationship among Ying, Mei (Yoyo Mung) and Komatsu serve as the sub plot.
Obviously the plot is not tenable at all. But since we are aware that the style of this film is not following any logic, we tend not to care much about it. What we care most is the quality of the jokes in the film. Luckily, Nick Cheung and his partner Chapman To are doing a good job. The chemical effect between them is somewhat similar to Stephen Chiau and Ng Man Tat in their early 90s films. Yoyo Mung also shows improvement. Her character looks plausible with the scholastic glasses and obsolete fashion. Employing Tsui Kam Kong and Lo Wai Kwong to play the roles of the principal and discipline master of the school is also an interesting pick. They are always bad guys in many other films. You can imagine how bizarre it would be to see them become the role models of the students. The character of the nun is fun too, Karen Mok somehow acts better as cameo than lead actress...
The "school" genre often fails to delineate the real side of the educational system in Hong Kong. No matter the popular Stephen Chiau's school films in the early 90s, or The Teacher Without Chalk, the school portrayed is always a big playground with different kinds of bad students only. The target students are always the worst group in the beginning. When the film proceeds, the protagonist will successfully turn them back into good students. Every film just follows this cliche over and over again. Unluckily, the plot of this film is basically akin to this tradition. But there is still goodie in it. That is, (spoiler, skip the rest of this paragraph if you are planning to see this film) in the end of the film, most of the students fail to promote to the next grade, and only one of them can make it. In this way, it makes the story more realistic and reasonable.
The weakness of this film is the love plot among Nick Cheung, Yoyo Mung and Komatsu Takuya. Obviously, Komatsu Takuya is supposed to be the love-enemy of Nick Cheung. But throughout the film, he only appears barely and the plot provides almost no conflict for the two of them. This character is useless at all. The director also fails to spend enough time to build up the love relationship between Cheung and Mung. That is why in the end when they come together, we cannot quite feel the supposed romantic atmoshpere.
If you do not expect too much when watching a film, or if your only purpose to see a movie is to relax, you will definitely have a good time watching the crude and cheap jokes in this film.
VCD (HK version) - If you don't speak Cantonese, you will have a hard time finding some of the nasty jokes interesting. Up to date, I still haven't seen any English subtitles in any Hong Kong comedies that are able to capture the true spirit of Hong Kong street humors perfectly. So once again, if you really want to enjoy Hong Kong comedies, it's time to learn the language, my friend!
Cool guy(s) - Nick Cheung, Chapman To
Reviewed by: Kantorates