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Film / Once Upon a Time in High School

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Once Upon a Time in High School is a 2004 South Korean action film. Set in Seoul in 1978, the film is about a teenager named Hyun-soo who is transferred to a new school, which he has heard a lot of terrible things about. He confirms all the things said about the school when on his first day experiences violence and strict authoritarian brutality from the teachers as well as Jong-Hoon and his gang. Inspired by his hero Bruce Lee which he watched movies as a child, he starts training himself in Jeet Kune Do with nunchucks to deal with Jong-Hoon and his gang's reign of terror himself.

Aside from that, he also shares a romance with Eun-joo in which he and his friend Woo-sik have a conflict over, and struggles to meet his father's high expectations in his academic performance.


Tropes in Once Upon a Time in High School include:

  • Abusive Parents: Hyun-soo's violent Ax-Crazy father who beats him on a regular basis. He is perhaps even more violent and brutal than any teacher at his school. His only concern is for his son to absolutely meet his high expectations lest he instills some serious violence upon him. When Hyun-soo's report card with poor grades arrive, his father beats him, berates him, then kicks him out of house permanently, never allowed back inside ever again.
  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: Hyun-soo's father runs a Tae Kwon Do gym as well as provides lessons to his students. According to Hyun-soo, he acts as a good mentor to his students, but instills maximum violence on him if he even slightly falls below his high expectations. Implied trope, because we don't actually get to see his behavior towards his students.
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  • Character Development: Hyun-soo initially starts off as a quiet and shy boy, until he starts training himself in Jeet Kune Do and even develops a six-pack. When he sees Jong-hoon savagely brutalizing of his best friend Hamburger, he confronts him and settle a fight on the rooftop, something his former self wouldn't do.
  • Hate Sink: Hyun-soo's father. Mistreats his son on a regular basis and gives absolutely no shits about his redeeming qualities in the slightest.
  • Sadist Teacher: The teachers at Hyun-soo's school are extremely strict, brutal and authoritarian, and beat and insult students over the slightest screw-ups.
  • Sensitive Guy and Manly Man: Hyun-soo is the sensitive guy (before his Character Development) to tough guy Woo-sik.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: After Woo-sik loses a fight with Jong-hoon on the rooftop, he leaves the school without a word. He is never seen again.

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