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`Spin kick - Taekwon Boys' Finds Its Mark

2004/07/22 Source

By Joon Soh
Staff Reporter

Normally, the combination of high school, taekwondo, a small budget and a cast of little known actors would be the recipe for a hackneyed summer teen action flick trying to make a quick won. However, while it may not be the most original of films, "Tollyochagi (Spin Kick - Taekwon Boys')" overcomes the odds and turns out to be a surprisingly well-paced and entertaining movie.

"Spinkick" is in the tradition of The Classic underdog story, in which a group of misfits learn to work together as a team. The movie has hints of such sports films as "Bring It On" or "Slap Shot", but its style and sense of drama are more along the lines of comic books, most notably "Slam Dunk", the Japanese basketball manga that was all the rage in the late 1990s.

After 50 years, the taekwondo department of Manse High School is about to go under. With the national championship only a few months away, the department has no coach and only one true athlete to work with _ the quiet but immensely talented Min-kyu (Hyun Bin).

As a last resort, the school's principal forces two of the school's best fighters to join the team. Threatened with expulsion, school thugs Yong-gaek (Kim Dong-wan, lead singer of the pop group Shinhwa) and Chong-dae (Kim Tae-hyon) reluctantly agree to learn taekwondo, but gradually they begin to find their purpose in life through the martial art.

The characters that make up "Spinkick" are predictably cardboard, but they suit the overall comic book mood of the movie. First-time director Nam Sang-guk does a good job giving the film balance, putting in the right amount of action, drama and humor, while at the same time keeping the focus on the film's story.

The actors are mostly rising television stars making their film debuts and look the part of the cool high school kids. The film is especially helped by wonderful performances by the supporting actors, including Kim Young-ho as a children's taekwondo instructor who later becomes the team's new coach and Jeon Jae-hyoung, who plays a shy student who learns to tap into his anger.

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