Sang-ho is an ordinary high school student. His dream is to enter the military academy under the influence of his father who is an army colonel. As entering high school, he became friends with Jae-gu, Chang-bae, Kyung-chul, Hong-kyu and Sang-sik. They grouped a soccer team called `Tiger`, building up friendship by playing soccer. Sang-ho and his friends ran into group of fight with seniors, these incidents made everybody in school to misunderstandthem as they were serious group of gangster. When Sang-ho gets becomes close with a girl whose boyfriend is a boss of another school`s gangster group, things are going worse.
Although Gangster High deals with high school gangs, its depiction of violence is no less fierce than any Jopokyeonghwa, Korean gangster films. However, the film never romanticizes violence. Sang-ho is not romantic at all, and he turns into a cruel fighter when violent actions are unavoidable. As in his previous film A Whispering Corridor, a horror film of fearful, nightmarish girlhood, director Park depicts reckless teenagers living in the world without compassion through cruel, cold eyes.
Cast & Credits
I don't know if I would go that far, but with as many bloody gory movies as I watch it's fair to say I'm pretty immune. That said, it's still a really well done movie, with an exceptional cast, excellent acting, a strong chemistry between the actors, and a lot of familiar faces looking much younger. The fight scenes are very realistic, meticulously choreographed, and certainly brutal and bloody. The flow of the story is slow for more than half the movie, as so many Korean films are in the beginning, and then builds quickly in the final quarter to a devastating and bleak ending. No surprises as the first scene tells us exactly what that ending is going to be. I am never sure why directors use that methodology, especially in a film like this. The entire tenor of the film leads the audience to expect the inevitable worst at the end. So, for me, a huge chunk of what would build even more suspense and worry about how each of these young men are going to end up is completely over when that ending is told to me in the first 5 minutes of the film! It's not a method I appreciate, especially in a movie that spends it's entire length telegraphing it's message of wrong choices and machismo gone wild. I would have been even more devastated and upset at the end not knowing that information from the beginning. Consequently, I spent the entire movie just waiting on the inevitable and thanking God my son never had friends nor enemies like these nor will end up with a wasted and lost life like them.
As usual, after movies like this I have many questions about why these young men were this way, what forces shaped them that lead them to the kind of escalating violence of their lives, who actually survived, what became of them. I wish that the film had spent a bit more of its beginning giving some of that background which would have personally tied us to them more intimately. Even so, by the time the climax comes, there is still a subtle attachment to them, and in particular to Sang Ho and Jae Gu, that has been built, almost unawares, so I can't say the film loses a lot in not developing that information. It's just something that I personally like. I always wish, in movies like this, when the characters are so young, that there were a sequel, or an extra half hour, to see what happened to them 10, 20, 30 years down the road. If there is anything that will keep me thinking about this film, or a singular thing about this film that I will most remember, it's that.