Dasepo Naughty Girls: two hours of colourful mayhem

Not sure what the comedy nun is doing there, but just for balance you'll also find some comedy muslims and comedy buddhists
Not sure what the comedy nun is doing there, but just for balance you'll also find some comedy muslims and comedy buddhists at No Use High

The KCC’s E J-yong month is shaping up nicely. This coming Thursday is your chance to see Dasepo Naughty Girls, one of those films which is so difficult to categorise. It’s a completely different film from E J-yong’s earlier work such as last week’s subdued romance of An Affair and the Joseon dynasty costume drama Untold Scandal. It’s as if this is the product of a completely different director.

School discipline takes on a new meaning at No Use High
School discipline takes on a new meaning at No Use High

The naughty girls in question attend No Use High School, the creation of a long-running internet comic, a place where the teachers enjoy being disciplined by their students, where girls make money through compensated dating, and the principal seems to be possessed by a mysterious ancient spirit.

The soft-focus meeting between Poor Girl (Kim Ok-bin) and Anthony (Park Jin-woo)
The soft-focus meeting between Poor Girl (Kim Ok-bin) and Anthony (Park Jin-woo)

It pokes fun at the shallowness of the pretty rich boy and at the conventions of Korean soap operas, it plays on how people can become famous through viral videos, and introduces a range of weird characters such as the cross-dressing gangster (Lee Won-jong), the one-eyed boy known as Cyclops (Lee Kyeon) and his rather attractive transgender elder sister Two Eyes (Lee Eun-seong).

Cyclops at the centre of one of the early song & dance numbers
Cyclops at the centre of one of the early song & dance numbers

The whole film is a riot, and passes in a flash. The colours, bright oranges, pinks and lime greens, dazzle the eye, while the song and dance numbers bring to mind the musical mayhem that is Takashi Miike’s Happiness of the Katakuris.

Poor Girl, newly famous for her viral dancing video, is interviewed for a trashy TV programme
Poor Girl, newly famous for her viral dancing video, is interviewed for a trashy TV programme

While there is occasionally a serious message, and the girl who literally carries poverty around like a cute backback is a nice touch, this film can be enjoyed as a teen comedy. It’s not profound stuff, but then you wouldn’t expect that from the source material (and indeed many viewers familiar with the webtoon were disappointed that the film was comparatively tame when it came to dealing with some of the racy subject matter). It’s a diverting way to spend two hours.

Choreographer Ahn Eun-mi: responsible for the song & dance numbers
Choreographer Ahn Eun-mi: responsible for the song & dance numbers

If you watch it on the Third Window R2 DVD release, you’ll find some extras such as interviews with the cast and a curiously pixellated director, plus some behind-the-scenes footage which includes the amazing choreographer Ahn Eun-mi working on some of the fun song and dance numbers. Given the visual flair she shows in her ballets, I can’t help thinking she had some input into the colour palettes used in this movie.

Catch it at the KCC on Thursday as part of E J-yong month.

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