Just like with his piece A Dirty Carnival where he reminisces his troubled youth, poetic director Ha Yoo, takes viewers into another trip down memory lanes with his Once Upon a Time In High School (Maljukgeori janhoksa), as the obvious title suggest, this time revisiting strict, violent Korean high school environment of 1970's in nostalgia filled school drama.
Hyeon-su (Sang-woo Kwone) transfers to Jungmoon school, notorious for it's draconian teaching methods an violence among students. There he befriends Woo-shik (Jeong-jin Lee), a seasoned authority of this school. What helps to bond their friendship is shared passion for Bruce Lee's personality and his films.
One day Hyeon-su while on a bus ride, spots a cute girl, and instantly falls in love with her, and unfortunately for him, so does Woo-shik. Girls name is Eun-ju (Ga-in Han) and she is his senior from girls only school nearby. A one sided battle for her heart ensues among the friends.
As his friend Woo-shik, gets in trouble with schools student patrol captain, after being set up he eventually is expelled from school, and with no one to hold him accountable, Jong-hoon, said student captain, begins his reign of bullying. Hyeon-su no longer being able to bear this, with his cup of anger full, he is forced to face his foes and act, as his hero Bruce Lee would.
What many critics agree is that under the mask of this, seemingly simple high school drama, hides a more serious examination of Korean educational approach that was widely spread in these years, when violence was an acceptable method of handling the students.
Friendship, love affairs, bullying, likable (and not that likable) characters, everything you might expect from entertaining movie about high school.
Successfully made movie that won't disappoint or bore the viewers. Recommended.
DVD from Amazon