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See You After School
  |     review    |     notes     |     availability     |    

It's three o'clock in See You After School.
Year: 2006  
Director: Lee Seok-Hoon  
  Cast: Bong Tae-Gyu, Ha Seok-Jin, Kim Tae-Hyeon, Jeong Koo-Yeon
  The Skinny: An affable loser gets caught in a strange case of mistaken identity when he accidentally challenges the school's top bully to an afterschool showdown. Although highly derivative of other high school flicks of its kind, See You After School has enough originality and spark to stand on its own two feet.
Review by Calvin McMillin:      If war is hell, then high school isn't far from it, especially for See You After School's hapless protagonist, Namkoong Dahl (Bong Tae-Gyu), a young high school student who may just be the unluckiest man alive. After constant bullying causes the boy to transfer from school to school repeatedly, Dahl signs up for a clinic designed especially to treat fellow "rejects." So certain are they of their techniques, the clinic promises to cure his affliction and send him back into the general population with a new lease on life. With a new school and a new semester on the horizon, Dahl "graduates" from the program, believing himself to be a changed man, but is he really?
     Once back in the real world, he meets up with another "Reject Escape Camp" graduate, the ridiculously coiffed Yeon Seong (a funny, but sometimes overacting Kim Tae-Hyeon), who has successfully overcome his loser status through a deceptively simple technique: early on at the new school, he challenged a student to a fight, knowing full well that his intended target wouldn't go through with it. The bluff ensured Yeon Seong's rep, and he's sure it'll work for his old friend as well. Although Dahl is skeptical, he figures he might as well give Yeon Seong's idea a try. And wouldn't you know it? Fate intervenes to allow Dahl to do just that.
     Enter Choi Min-Ah (the alluring Jeong Koo-Yeon), a sexy student who not only catches Dahl's eye, but soon wins his heart without saying a word. When he spies her being hassled by three punks, Dahl decides to seize the opportunity, believing he'll not only ensure his reputation as a tough guy, but capture Min Ah's affections as well. As good as his intentions are, his "carpe diem" attitude backfires: one of the bullies is Kang Jae-Koo (Ha Seok-Jin), who's not only the toughest kid in school, but a veritable legend when it comes to schoolyard brawling. Unfortunately, Dahl doesn't back down from the fight at first, even when Jae Koo gives him the chance. What ensues next is not only madcap dash throughout the day to avoid a fight, but a hilarious case of mistaken identity, in which Dahl is not only erroneously believed to be a bully in his own right, but also mistaken for Jae-Koo by kids from a rival school looking to settle an old score! Even worse, a bully that made Dahl's life miserable at his previous school is stalking the school grounds in the hopes of catching up with his old target! But to what purpose?
     It's safe to say that See You After School treads familiar territory. For one, the film essentially plays out like an uncredited remake of the 1987 film Three O'Clock High right down to the continual usage of clocks (this time around they're digital) that count down the hours until the final battle. Other familiar aspects extend to the movie's lead actor, Bong Tae-Gyu, who plays a character not too far removed from the one he assayed in Ssunday Seoul (minus the werewolfism, of course). But thankfully, the film doesn't feel like a tired rehash, as it milks both the comedy and the dramatic aspects to maximum effect. Kudos go to Bong Tae-Gyu, who takes a seemingly cardboard character, and makes him three dimensional. Although Dahl seems at first to be the stereotypical high school geek, he isn't entirely mild-mannered either and feels very much like a real guy, even if the situation is exaggerated for comedic purposes.
     And unlike many of its predecessors, See You After School has technology on its side, as there are many CGI fantasy sequences used to punctuate the humor. One low-tech interlude worth citing is an entertaining music video-inspired fantasy sequence early in the film that features Dahl fawning over Min-Ah as she transforms into a sexy nurse, a midriff bearing policewoman, and a Sheena-esque jungle girl - a scene that any red-blooded heterosexual male should be able to respond to and appreciate!
     Although the film initially seems to be all about lame toilet humor, it quickly rights itself, thanks to Bong's performance. As his character makes every effort to get out of school (feigning sickness, paying people off), he comically finds himself only further ensuring that his afterschool match is destined to occur. One amusing scene involves Dahl's sincere attempt at earning detention, which quickly turns into a rousing speech that proves to have unintended consequences, both for his own reputation and his budding friendship with Min-Ah! Surprisingly, the film's inevitable turn towards serious drama actually seems organic, rather than a contrived filmic convention. All these qualities and more allow See You After School to transcend the familiarity of its material. Although in many ways its derivative of other high school flicks of its kind, See You After School has enough originality and spark to stand on its own two feet. (Calvin McMillin, 2006)
Notes: • The film's production company, Cineon, strongly denied allegations that See You After School is a rip-off of Three O'clock High, instead proclaiming that the film deals with universal issues.
Availability: DVD (Korea)
Region 3 NTSC
EnterOne DVD
Korean Language Track
Dolby Digital 5.1
English and Korean Subtitles
Various Extras
   Copyright 2002-2017 Ross Chen