Gangster High

Can I first just say that I thank God that I didn’t attend a Korean High School! After seeing films like this and a few others I realize I would have lasted a nanosecond in that combative punishing environment. It is like being in one of those “fight to the death” caged arena events. This film is nearly a non-stop onslaught of brutal beatings as two gangs from different high schools take a disliking to one another and feel they can only prove their manhood by breaking bones and spilling blood. The film clearly delineates between the good gang and the bad gang but no mercy is shown to either.

From director Park Ki-hyung who previously had stuck strictly with horror – “Whispering Corridors”, “Secret Tears” and the dreadful “Acacia” - explores a horror of a different kind with this head banging coming of age tale of male bonding and hurt. It is quite effective in its portrayal of the boys that make up the good gang led by the dreamy-eyed Sang-ho (Jeong Gyeong-ho) and his long time friend Jae-gu (Lee Tae-seong) as they are inexorably drawn into savage violence to protect themselves and their honor. Park effectively uses startling idol like close-ups of the boys to give them a heroic comic book status. The blood soaked finale feels horribly sad and inevitable.

My rating for this film: 6.0


Reviewed: 02/07