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Archive for May 19th, 2012

Conduct Zero (2002)

Joong Pil is the toughest guy at his high school. Vain, slovenly and a bit stupid, he and his small gang steal lunch money and tries to peddle some erotic manga drawings to younger students. His reputation has made him a legend (built on exaggerating rumours rather than hard fact) and trying to keep up with his studies is something that Joong Pil finds increasingly hard. All that changes when he starts falling in love with a geeky bespectacled girl named Min-Hee. His image starts to soften and even his closest friends notice a difference in him. His ex-girlfriend warns him that he’s in danger of losing his reputation and no.1 position if he continues down this path. A serious rival rears up in the shape of Sung-Mahn who starts to move in on Joong Pil’s territory with nobody to stop him. Joong Pil now has a dilemma on his hands – does he walk away from his previous life as a tough guy and happily continue his relationship with Ming-Hee or does he realise that he cannot let anybody take his crown and issues a direct challenge for a fight with Sung-Mahn?

Conduct Zero is a very funny Korean teen comedy and viewers that are familiar with other similar movies from the country will know what to expect. It uses a tried and tested formula. The formula being we get comedy for 2/3 of the plot before it changes direction to a more dramatic and serious story. Usually this switch spoils the fun mood that’s already been built up but thankfully the drama element introduced in this movie balances nicely with the comedy. The humour is at times so ridiculous and OTT when we see Joong Pil beating up members of a karate school where their bodies are seen flying through the air that it reminds you of a scene out of Stephen Chow’s Kung Fu Hustle. Somehow I didn’t find the relationship between Joong-Pil and Ming-Hee that realistic. Yes, I know the phrase ‘opposites attract’ and you can see why Joong Pil would be drawn to such a girl but he seems more suitable and better off with his ex-girlfriend Na-young as they come from a similar background and she also leads her own small gang.

Although the script for the movie is well written, it’s not a perfect comedy by any means and there’s hardly any character development (but perhaps that’s what the director wanted in order to concentrate on the gags instead?). Joong Pil’s teacher who begins a relationship with his mother is largely brushed to the side and could have been expanded. It would have been interesting to see what Joong Pil felt about the situation. The ending also wasn’t what I was expecting and I’m not sure if it was the right way to go. The performances in this movie are excellent in particular Seung-beom Ryu as Joong Pil. His transition from tough guy to a softie is convincing and belieavable. Eun-kyeong Lim is also good as the cute and geeky Ming-Hee. The supporting cast also get a chance to shine in certain scenes.

Apart from some minor gripes, Conduct Zero was a very enjoyable and entertaining teen comedy with plenty of laughs to be had from watching it. Recommended.

Sadako’s Rating: 4 stars out of 5

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