Friday, November 7, 2014

Review: Conduct Zero (aka No Manners) (2002)

Conduct Zero (aka No Manners) (Review)
Jo Keun-shil/Ryoo Seung-bum/2002
Where To Watch:
Netflix Streaming
Amazon Prime

"...the perfect blend of humor, romance, and drama."

Joong-pil (Ryoo Seung-bum) is the king of his high school. Soon, he finds his leadership challenged when he falls for Min-hee (Lim Eun-kyeong), a girl from a nearby school, and a tough new student emerges.

Conduct Zero is a teen/romance comedy with a few raunchy moments. Now, that doesn't necessarily mean it's a film for teens, it's just a film based on teens. Anyway, the story follows troublemaking student Joong-pil as he falls in love with Min-hee. Meanwhile, Min-hee is harassed by Na-young, leader of an all-female gang, who also has a crush on Joong-pil. All while a new student, Sang-man, asserts his dominance as an up-and-coming boss. It's safe to say the film always stays on its feet and continues moving. The ending of the film felt a little out of character, but that's sort of the norm for Korean films – I liked it.

I loved the film, really. It's the perfect blend of humor, romance, and drama. Of course, the humor is most dominant. But, still, I laughed plenty, I felt some genuine chemistry between the cast, and the ending almost hit home. All-in-all, it's the perfect blend. As for the humor, I think it works on many levels. There are some hilarious jokes and gags, and only a few are really juvenile or raunchy. This isn't a teen comedy like American Pie, so don't expect anything like that. Otherwise, I can't praise the pacing and story enough, especially the former. I never checked the runtime and it felt like it was over before I knew it.

Ryoo Seung-bum delivers another fantastic performance. This is one of his earlier films, and he's as charismatic, lively and funny as ever. Definitely one of the more overlooked Korean actors and one of my personal favorites. Lim Eun-kyeong, who shares less screen time, also delivers a great performance with some much-needed quirk and some sass. The pair work wonderfully for the romance elements of the film. The rest of the supporting cast is also great and on par.

The film is shot very well. I had no complaints when it came to the cinematography. I enjoyed the music, the soundtrack fits the vibe of the film perfectly. I watched the U.S. DVD release of this film, and had no issues. The video and audio quality were surprisingly great, especially considering the age of the film. (Many Korean films from over a decade ago haven't received a proper release.) The English subtitles had very few, if any, flaws. Director Jo Keun-shik pulls great performances from his cast, and creates a very attractive flow for the film; it moves so well thanks to his pacing, and the humor is captured perfectly.

Overall, Conduct Zero is a hilarious comedy. The drama and romance elements share the backseat, but they are also effective. The ending may leave some fans on the edge, but I genuinely enjoyed it – it does feel somewhat out of place, but it's well executed. If you're looking for something hilarious and fast-paced, this film is perfect. Highly recommended.

Score: 9/10
Parental Guide: Some violence and blood, some sexually explicit drawings.