Once Upon a Time in High School

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Once Upon a Time in High School
Once Upon a Time in High School movie poster.jpg
Theatrical poster
Hangul
Revised Romanization Maljukgeori janhoksa
McCune–Reischauer Maljukgŏri chanhoksa
Directed by Yoo Ha
Produced by Cha Seung-jae
No Jong-yoon
Written by Yoo Ha
Starring Kwon Sang-woo
Han Ga-in
Lee Jung-jin
Music by Kim Joon-seok
Cinematography Choi Hyeon-gi
Edited by Park Gok-ji
Production
company
Distributed by CJ Entertainment
Release dates
  • January 16, 2004 (2004-01-16)
Running time
116 minutes
Country South Korea
Language Korean

Once Upon a Time in High School: The Spirit of Jeet Kune Do (Korean: 말죽거리 잔혹사) is a 2004 South Korean drama film. The background of the film is set in a high school in South Korea, 1978. The original Korean title literally means "cruel history of Maljuk street" and one of the filming locations was the present neighborhood of Yangjae-dong, Seocho District in Seoul.[1][2]

Synopsis[edit]

Hyun-soo (Kwon Sang-woo), transfers to another school, which is notorious for being the single worst and most brutal high school in the country alone. He is assigned to the most bottom-rank class and experiences violence in classroom by a group of delinquents in his class led by Jong-hoon (Lee Jong-hyuk), who is a stereotypical Korean bully in school. The teachers are also cruel and sadistic to the students, utilizing brutality upon them, as all Korean teachers did in the 70s and still do to this day. One day on the bus, Hyun-soo sets eyes on and falls in love with Eun-joo (Han Ga-in), and one day when a group of schoolboys start teasing her on the bus, Hyun-soo takes the opportunity to gain her respect, even though it meant starting a riot. After a chase through the neighborhood and being caught in their hiding place (a rat prompted Eun-joo to scream), one of Hyun-soo's friends Kim Woo-sik (Lee Jung-jin), who happens to be a son of a popular actress, steps in and knocks them out. A relationship triangle was formed between Hyun-soo, Woo-sik, and Eun-joo. One day Hyun-soo while riding his bike noticed Woo-sik and Eun-joo arguing. Taking into account that Hyun-soo was at a major disadvantage of winning her heart due to his only achievement being sharing an umbrella with her on a rainy day while Woo-sik did more, he meets her at a rooftop that night and bonds with a romantic song playing on the radio presumably bought for the occasion, much to Woo-sik's jealousy when he saw them unnoticed when he reached the rooftop. One day Hyun-soo and Woo-sik got in a fight over Eun-joo and their friendship was cut off, which made Woo-sik the tough person he is more arrogant and narcissistic than ever before, going to the extent of humiliating and beating Ham Jye-bok who is called by his nickname Hamburger (Park Hyo-jun), who sells pornography to other students. He leaves the school and presumably drops out after losing an intense fight with Jong-hoon on the rooftops, never to be seen again. Hyun-soo is now facing greater problems of his own when he concludes Eun-joo left him for Woo-sik again and he has been receiving poor grades prompting his cruel and sadistic father, a black belt in Tae Kwon Do and an owner of a Tae Kwon Do gym, to berate him and resort to extreme violence, violence far greater than the ones conducted and condoned by any teacher or person of authority combined, to 'discipline' him (as he always did even for the most minor of wrongdoings Hyun-soo has done prior to the events of this movie) and labeled him a 'surplus man', a derogatory term used to describe a person without a future, and kicked him out of his house permanently, nearly driving him to suicide. No longer able to put up with the conduct of Jong-hoon and his boys as well as the extreme brutality and violence being put up by the teachers, Hyun-soo starts to train himself in Jeet Kune Do, inspired by his childhood hero Bruce Lee. Hyun-soo challenges Jong-hoon to a fight one day when he is no longer able to put up with his irrational behaviour. On the same rooftop where Woo-sik lost a fight, Jong-hoon and his gang mates are grievously injured by Hyun-soo's nunchaku and expertise in Jeet Kune Do. After the intense fight, although he won, Hyun-soo still didn't feel any victory. Authorities including a general who is called 'puppet soldier' by students were alerted and they started accusing him even though it was Jong-hoon who was antagonizing others. At this point, badly influenced by the brutality from his psychopath of a father and still being accused rather than honored after all this time and effort he invested to master Jeet Kune Do for the sake of bringing justice to the school and proving himself wrong of his status as a surplus man, Hyun-soo totally lost it and smashed some nearby windows and hurled his nunchucks at them and cursed Korea's entire education system for being so corrupt and condoning brutality no matter how immoral it is, leading to expulsion. After the incident, Hyun-soo's father has heard everything of what happened in full detail. Unsurprisingly, the cruel, brutal, vicious, savage, sadistic psychopath he is, he berates Hyun-soo even more that he truly is a surplus man after all and he has no hope of ever making a name for himself, and brutalizes him even more than ever (smashing glass bottles on his head, kicking him in the face repeatedly, etc.). In the end, Hyun-soo has no family or future (his father disowned him permanently), even with his expertise in Jeet Kune Do, and the movie ends with him jumping off the same rooftop he failed a suicide before.

Cast[edit]

  • Kwon Sang-woo as Hyun-soo
  • Lee Jung-jin as Woo-sik
  • Han Ga-in as Eun-joo
  • Kim In-kwon as Jiksae
  • Lee Jong-hyuk as Jong-hoon
  • Park Hyo-jun as Hamburger
  • Seo Dong-wan as Seong-hun
  • Baek Bong-ki as Cheetah
  • Kim Byeong-chun as drill teacher
  • Yang Han-seok as P.E. teacher
  • Ahn Nae-sang as Math teacher
  • Kim Bu-seon
  • Chun Ho-jin as Hyun-soo's father
  • Kim Young-im
  • Choi Jae-hwan
  • Kim Su-nam
  • Lee Yu-soo
  • Kwon Tae-won as English teacher
  • Jung Jae-jin
  • Lee Sook
  • Jo Jin-woong as gang member
  • Kim Dong-young as young Hyun-soo
  • Lee Hyeon-seok as Hyun-soo's mother
  • Jeon Sung-ae as Jong-hoon's mother
  • Park Soo-young as Politics & Economics teacher
  • Choi Woong as dance club guard 3
  • Jeon Jin-woo as tteokbokki restaurant disc jockey

Reception and Controversies[edit]

This movie was universally panned by all the critics of not only Korea but the entire world. It was so much panned, in fact, that some countries banned the movie on the first day of release for the sake of protecting citizens of losing their sanity. One critic stated "The review scores are even lower than Hyun-soo's grades", which the world consensus wholeheartedly concurred with. Another critic claimed it to be an "absolute disgrace to action films, modern films in general, Korea, and basically existence itself". Feedback from a few select highly disturbed vieweres exclaimed that "I'd rather view the entire Offended page on Encyclopedia Dramatica a million times than this movie once anyday of the week", "Unless you want to live in a mental asylum for life, this movie is a power drill to the eyes", etc..

References[edit]

External links[edit]