Battlefield High School
Part Two: It Was a Dark and Stormy Night…
by Ender’s Girl
[Read Part One of Smackdown: Counting Crows, Feuding Foes]
Volcano High / Hwasango
Jang Hyuk, Shin Min-a, Kim Soo-ro, Kwon Sang-woo, Gong Hyo-jin, Byeon Hee-bong, Heo Jun-ho, Kim Hyung-jong, Jeong Sang-hun, Chae Shi-ah
Directed by Kim Tae-gyun / Sidus & Cinema Service, 2001
In a Nutshell:
Not-quite-your-average teener Kim Kyung-soo’s expulsion from school for the eighth time (for disrupting class with his powers, tsk) lands him in Volcano High, an elite institution for other preternaturally gifted kids. But a nefarious plot soon sows chaos within the school administration and the already fractious student body, while an even graver and darker threat looms right outside the walls. Though determined at first to keep out of trouble (this time), Kyung-soo finds himself – and his vast, if still-unripe powers – left standing between his school and its oppressive new regime.
(SpoilLert: Very spoilery.)
After watching the Crows Zeros I was still feeling… dissatisfied despite being left near insensate by the visual and aural overload the films had dumped on me. So I rummaged through my Asian drama stash for two old VCDs that must’ve been buried under the newer arrivals. I found the discs still in their dusty case, exactly the way I left them ages ago.
My first encounter with Volcano High was in the early/mid-Noughties (just as my Hallyu obsession was reaching its peak), and I found it to be a breezy, entertaining popcorn flick that had the perfect blend of action and comedy with just a dash of romance and lightly — very lightly — sprinkled with interesting psycho-social insights. I was pleasantly surprised to find that my viewing satisfaction had not diminished over time – in fact it had increased, because now I could better appreciate the little details in the story, acting and production design.
I also realized, after having seen the Crows Zeros, why Volcano High stands up in the litmus test of multiple viewings and doesn’t feel stale or tedious to watch – even several years down the road. And the difference is predicated on two key elements absent from Miike Takashi’s Crows Zero films: a high school that feels like high school (despite the fantasy elements), and a likable protagonist with a well-developed story trajectory.
Click to read MOAR!!! MOAR!!!