• Movie: Once Upon a Time in High School
  • Country: South Korea
  • Release Date: Jan 16, 2004
  • Duration: 1 hr. 56 min.
  • Rating: 15+ - Teens 15 or older


  • Score: 7.4 (scored by 518 users)
  • Ranked: #2792
  • Popularity: #2980
  • Watchers: 1,077

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Once Upon a Time in High School (2004) poster
Your Rating: 0/10
Ratings: 7.4/10 from 518 users
# of Watchers: 1,077
Reviews: 1 user
Ranked #2792
Popularity #2980
Watchers 518

In the spring of 1978, Hyun Soo transfers to Jungmoon High School in Gangnam, where his mother thinks the land price will skyrocket due to the development of the area. Yet, Jungmoon High School is notorious for its severe corporal punishment by teachers and power struggles between school gangs.
On the first day, he gets spanked with an aluminium baseball bat for violating the school's dress code. Then, one day, he plays basketball with his classmates and brings his team a victory, which allows him to become chummy with Woo Shik, a kingpin of the school. Before long, they find out that they both are huge fans of Bruce Lee and become best friends.
After school, on the bus, Hyun Soo and Woo Shik see a girl who resembles Olivia Hussey, the most popular foreign actress in Korea at that time. Her name is Eun Ju, a senior at a nearby all-girls' high school. Both fall in love with her at first sight. Hyun Soo is gentle and kind, while Woo Shik is tough and charismatic. Knowing Woo Shik is so different from her, she can't help and becomes attracted to him.
Hyun Soo endures the pain of his secret love for Eun Ju. However, Eun Ju and Woo Shik begin to bicker over petty things. While she's in pain over Woo Shik cheating on her, Hyun Soo sees a chance to win her heart. In the meantime, Woo Shik and Jong Hoon, a student patrol captain, get into a fight. In the duel, Jong Hoon cheats and beats up Woo Shik, who leaves school in the aftermath of his defeat.
With Woo Shik gone, Jong Hoon abuses his power as student patrol captain and bullies whoever gets in his way. Hyun Soo falls into an Inferior Class, and Jong Hoon keeps bullying him. The corporal punishment and favouritism by the teachers gradually become worse. To make matter worse, Eun Ju chooses Woo Shik over him. Driven to the wall, Hyun Soo explodes. With nunchakus tucked in the back of his pants, he goes up to the roof after Jong Hoon.
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  • Country: South Korea
  • Type: Movie
  • Release Date: Jan 16, 2004
  • Duration: 1 hr. 56 min.
  • Score: 7.4 (scored by 518 users)
  • Ranked: #2792
  • Popularity: #2980
  • Rating: 15+ - Teens 15 or older

Cast & Credits


Once Upon a Time in High School (2004) photo
Once Upon a Time in High School (2004) photo


2 people found this review helpful
Nov 2, 2016
Completed 0
Overall 9.5
Story 9.0
Acting/Cast 9.0
Music 9.0
Rewatch Value 9.5
Brilliant movie, hard hitting in all senses of the word, life in Korean schools in the 1970s makes English public schools of the time (though probably not the pre WW2 ones) look tame (e.g. I don't think in UK they used boys' heads as a billiard ball), with survival of the fittest apparently the guiding principle. There was a danger this would all seem over the top, but the movie felt very believable. I suppose there had to be "love interest" in it to give a reason for some of the testosterone expended in male rivalry. Thankfully it didn't dominate and the way it ended for the lead actor and his crush was again well done and believable. This may only appeal to those who like male coming-of-age and action type movies and can tolerate a fair amount of violent action. But of its type it's first rate.

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