the fall of 2001, South Korean moviegoers were inundated with a series
of successful action comedies, many of which took the old standard of
Asian cinema, the gangster, and dropped them into absurd 'fish out of
water' situations, invoking hilarity out of what are usually mundane
cinematic set pieces. "My Wife is a Gangster (Jopog manura)"
featured a female crime boss getting in touch with her feminine side in
order to find a husband. In "Hi, Dharma", a bunch of gangsters on the
lam find refuge in a Buddhist monastery, while Kim Sang-jin's follow-up
to "Attack the Gas Station (Chuyuso supgyuk sa keun)", "Kick the Moon (Shinlaui dalbam)", has a big boss and a schoolteacher vying for the affections of the same woman. In the case of the recent multi-region DVD import "My Boss, My Hero (Doosaboo ilchae)", a mob boss is sent back to high school, a place that ends up being far worse than life on the mean streets.
Kye Doo-sik (Jung Joon-ho, who is usually associated with more serious action fare, such as "The Siren" and "Last Witness")
is the second-in-command of a mob gang. Though he has successfully
expanded his boss' territory by defeating a rival gang, he is prevented
from moving up in the criminal organization due to his lack of a high
school diploma. It seems that all his contemporaries have at least a
high school education, with some having even attended college, and
Doo-sik's lack of formal education is downright embarrassing-- he is
even oblivious to the existence of the Internet and has yet to discover
what an e-mail address is. Thus, Doo-sik is given an ultimatum by his
boss (Kim Sang-joong)-- he must go back to school and graduate if he
wants to continue as a gangster.
Doo-sik poses as a 20-year old student and enrolls at a privately run
high school. Unfortunately, he quickly learns that high school life is
far rougher and tougher than the life he has left behind. In addition
to being beaten by his teachers and robbed by the school bully, Doo-sik
quickly learns that the school is rife with corruption. The parents of
rich students routinely bribe the school's principal, who in turn
coerces the teaching staff into awarding good marks. The principal is
also behind the school's problem in retaining female teachers, as he
routinely sexual harasses them. Unfortunately, there is little anyone
can do about this situation, as the principal is backed up by a local
mob. Doo-sik also learns that the lure of getting into a top college is
so strong that some students are willing to do anything, as with the
case of Yoon-joo (Oh Seung-eun), a female student he befriends, who
prostitutes herself after school to pay for her education. Fed up with
the corruption and injustice all around him, Doo-sik decides to take
matters into his own hands, which leads to an all-out battle on school
The first half of "My Boss, My Hero" is clearly a 'fish
out of water' comedy, as Doo-sik is knocked to the bottom of the food
chain at his new school. Coupled with the ineptness of Ka-ri, who
consistently gives Doo-sik bad advice about how to fit into his new
environment, there are more than a few well-earned chuckles to be had.
In addition, the film makes some pointed comments about the brutality
of the Korean education system, a sometimes-dangerous place where
corporal punishment still exists and the pressure to perform leads to
all sorts of abuses and criminal behavior (apparently, the story is
loosely based on an actual incident at a Seoul high school).
Unfortunately, there are a number of instances where the script strains
credibility, such as Doo-sik being bullied by the local toughs,
particularly since he easily stands a head taller than them and is
almost a decade their senior. In addition, this first half also suffers
from some choppy editing, which makes a number of the scene transitions
However, the film really takes off in the
second half, where the story sheds the laughs and presents Doo-sik's
heart-wrenching struggle to help the teachers and students overthrow
the school's corrupt administration. As the principal's underworld
connections arrive to break up a peaceful protest, director Yun Je-gyun
pulls no punches in showing the brutality that ensues. In addition, the
film's second half also features a beautifully rendered fight sequence
that takes place in a torrential downpour, reminiscent of the opening
action sequence in "My Wife is a Gangster".
Have fun with this hilarious movie. I will upload the second one.
Tool to automatically download from megaupload.com
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