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  Publicity Stills of "Mad About English"
(Courtesy from Shaw)

Director: Lian Pek
RunTime: 1 hr 32 mins
Released By: Shaw
Rating: PG

Opening Day: 7 August 2008


Have you ever seen 10,000 students learning English from one teacher – all at the same time? Have you ever met a detective whose mission impossible is to arrest bad grammar? Or encountered a 74 year-old retiree who thinks nothing of ambushing foreigners on the streets just so he can practice his English? Or heard a Chinese policeman speak English in a New York Bronx accent?

If you haven't, catch Mad About English! - the amazing story of 1,000,000,000 people and their MAD MAD MAD rush to learn English! As the clock ticks down to next month's Olympics, China 's love affair with the English language has reached feverish proportions. With half a million or more visitors descending on Beijing for the Games, can the Chinese pull it off with their newly-acquired English? Mad About English! follows the inspiring and heart-warming efforts of a city preparing to host the world by learning a once-forbidden tongue.

Movie Review:

Having won the bid to the Olympics, China began an extensive foray of preparation to usher the new found glory of welcoming international guest to their land. Having building massive architectural marvels like the National Aquatics Center ("Water Cube") and the National Stadium (aka Bird's nest), one major hurdle faced the majority of its population. Language. What is a host to do if they can't communicate with their own guest? Hence a major sweep of English madness was entrusted upon the people with hilarity ensured.

One might be a little weary of the preceding of such matter. Culture aside, we've seen countless of viral emails or site ridiculing the inappropriateness of some rather peculiar English use in the region from menus to store signs and instructions. Admit it, we've laughed at it and then came this little documentary that was thought going to aggravate the situation to the never ending satire. Well, that was the vibe i was getting from the trailer personally. But behold upon descending and flowing through it, i can't help but smile a little at the effort and determination they bring themselves to upgrade and make sure they do their country proud. And its not only just about the up coming event, its also about the blooming measures and cue that China is catching up with the pace and certainly in this documentary that the depth of the evolving future is truly embraced.

Labeled as a docu-comedy, Lian Pek, once one of the most recognizable broadcast journalist, stepping into the seat of a director, does a great job capturing the charm and quirkiness of the people. Beautifully captured by Tong Zhijian, the ever changing landscape of urban Beijing let us take a look from the native point of view. And many points did they spread from retiree Jason Yang (who set up Golden Years English Salon), Li Yang (nick named, Crazy English Teacher, who became the spokesperson of English learning in China), Qi Qi (Eleven year old student in English boot camp), Meng (The taxi driver, trying to earn a pass for his English test so he could drive during the Olympic duration), Dr David Tool (the grammar cop, who goes around inspecting bad English signs) and lastly Lui Wenli ( a policemen who loves to master different accent, having his favorite - Brooklyn New York!).

All is not fun most of the time as we see each colorful character struggle to make ends meet and fall upon tested. Learning English for them doesn't just mean better communication, it also meant livelihood that they could bring themselves for their future. Documentaries like these are one in a million and capturing the essence of it all on film, priceless.

Movie Rating:

(A fascinating tour of the English madness engulfing China)

Review by Lokman B S


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