Take the Hong Kong film Young and Dangerous, add a dose of the Hollywood comedy Billy Madison, and add some frenetic martial arts action, and what do you this get? This hilarious Korean action-comedy that would not only spawn 2 sequels, but a Japanese television series five years later.
Gye Du-Shik is one of the toughest leaders in a Korean gang. When he is given a chance to take over the area of Myeongdong, he is met with resistance from some of the other district leaders. The reason? The others have a good education where Du-Shik doesn’t exactly have one. When he is asked for his e-mail address, he gives his home address. Need I say more?
The boss decides that Du-Shik will get Myeongdong only if he gets his high school diploma. With help from his number one man, Kim Sang-Du, Du-Shik poses as a 19-year old student and goes to Sangchun High, a private high school. Du-Shik learns the harsh realities of high school kids today, as they have gotten ruder towards their fellow students and even the teachers. Du-Shik gets the worst of it from a fellow student and his group of boys.
Things become complicated when Sang-Du, posing as Du-Shik’s “uncle”, falls for Du-Shik’s English teacher Ms. Lee and student Yun-Ju begins to somehow fall for Du-Shik, even though she moonlights as a bar hostess to get money to keep her in school. Meanwhile, it is revealed that the Sangchun administration have been getting their “funds” from a rival gang.
When Yun-Ju is accused of uncovering the administration’s dark secret, she is beaten to a pulp and ends up in the hospital while Ms. Lee is beaten up by the mother of a bullying female student, as well as Du-Shik’s homeroom teacher resigning because of his conscience, a war brews between Du-Shik’s gang and the gang who “funds” the school, who happen to be Du-Shik’s arch-rivals.
In 2001, there were three gangster comedies that hit big in Korea. There were My Wife is a Gangster and Hi, Dharma! This film is another hit gangster comedy and kudos go out to director Yun Je-Gyun for helming and writing (with Ha Won-Jun and Kim Yun-Hi) a hilarious film that combines Young and Dangerous and Billy Madison. There is so much comic relief to compliment the more dramatic and action sequences that it all comes together in one nicely wrapped package.
Jung Joon-Ho gives a rousing performance as Gye Du-Shik, one of the toughest leaders in a gang who has no sense of education. However, his belief has always been “The Boss, The Teacher, and the Father are One.” Much like the Catholic term, “The Father, The Son, and the Holy Spirit”. It is this motto that follows Du-Shik throughout his wacky misadventures in high school. The students themselves are an eclectic group, from Oh Seung-Eun’s Yun-Ju to even a feminine male student. In one hilarious scene, the male students are forced to be “circumcised” and Du-Shik has “beads.”
In a very intricate side story, number one man Kim Sang-Du, played by Jeong Woon-In, falls for the English teacher at Sangchun High, Ms. Lee, played by Song Seon-Mi. In a memorable scene, Sang-Du and Ms. Lee are sitting at the park where they watch Du-Shik and his former bully become friends as it culminates in Du-Shik beating up students from another school. A memorable line during the fight is when Ms. Lee tells Sang-Du, “He looks like he’s flying” and Sang-Du responds, “The technical term is ‘action scene.’”
As for mischievous lackey Head, Jeong Un-Taek is mainly there to be bullied in the worst ways by Du-Shik, including pulling his lips and smacking his head around. However, Head remains loyal despite his idiocy and he does get to fight even though he is more of a punching bag than a tae kwon do fighter.
Martial arts choreography is done by Kwon Seong-Hwan. In fight scenes, Du-Shik is trained in tae kwon do, as he pulls no punches and does some pretty nice kicks, including a wire assisted flying kick (the only use of wirework in the entire film). As for Sang-Du, he doesn’t use hand-to-hand combat, but instead relies on the art of Haedong Kumdo, which is the Korean art of the sword. However, he uses the Mok Kum, a wooden sword rather than a real sword, only inflicting damage rather than killing his opponents.
The film was such a hit that in 2006, the sequel My Boss, My Student, was released where Du-Shik was now a college student and high school teaching assistant for his own boss, and in 2007, the third installment, The Mafia Salesman was released. In 2006, Nippon Television Network of Japan created a series version of the film, which focused on the Yakuza and how the son of the Yakuza clan leader must go to high school.
This is the one that started it all and in the end, My Boss, My Hero is a really fun action comedy with all the right elements for everyone: gangsters, high school chaos, romance, and martial arts action.
WFG RATING: A
A CJ Entertainment production. Director: Yun Je-Kyun. Producers: Kim Du-Chan, Lee Hyo-Seung, and Jo Yun-Ho. Writer: Yun Je-Kyun. Cinematography: Hwang Chul-Hyun. Editing: Kim Seon-Min and Nam Na-Yeong.
Cast: Jung Joon-Ho, Jung Woong-In, Jung Woon-Taek, Oh Seung-Eun, Song Seon-Mi, Park Jun-Gyu, Kang Sung-Pil, Gi Ju-Bong, Yun Mun-Sik, Go Myung-Hwan, Lee Si-Yeon.