Conduct Zero

As soon as I finished Conduct Zero (a.k.a. No Manners, 2002), I went for Round Two. Just thinking about watching it a third time made me salivate.

What is so special about this little movie?

Well, for starters I love that it doesn’t take itself too seriously. I hate when a drama or movie tries too hard to manipulate my feelings, piling on the plot devices in order to milk my tears or laughter. Conduct Zero does none of that.

There’s nothing sleek or manufactured here; on the contrary, the movie has a refreshingly simple plot. As a coming of age story, it is sweet and funny without being sappy or slapstick. And the acting is amazing.

Ryu Seung-beom is perfect in his role as Joong-pil, king of Moonduk High School. I love the tall tales spun about him by the boys in the school, such hilarious storytelling that blows everything out of proportion. In their tales he is a legendary fighter who makes everyone cower in fear. In reality Joong-pil isn’t a bully and his fighting skills are nothing to crow about. He is also not very bright (the guy can’t count), but is infatuated with a pretty and studious girl, Min-hee (Lim Eun-kyeong).

Joong-pil and Min-hee’s first love is what drives the movie and gives it its many sweet and poignant moments.

I love how smitten he is with her and how in her presence he becomes fumbling and unsure, nothing at all like the fearsome fighter he is made out to be. I love how realistically their relationship develops, with neither fanfare nor fireworks. There’s no playing coy here. As ardently as he pursues her, learning the guitar doggedly because she plays it, so she reciprocates just as naturally. Min-hee herself is a surprise, because she looks timid yet is strong and brave. She’s a delight to watch, dorky glasses and all.

In a film with solid acting all around, the standout is Gong Hyo-jin as Na-young.

If Joong-pil is king in his high school, Na-young is queen in hers. Everything that she does (the way she talks, walks, smokes or stares) exudes a don’t-mess-with-me confidence that borders on arrogance. (This is hands down my favorite Gong Hyo-jin role; she is just so incredibly cool here.) But beneath that tough exterior is a girl who likes Joong-pil and who is threatened by her perceived rival, Min-hee. Watch the two girls take on each other!

The best thing in Conduct Zero is Gong Hyo-jin’s chemistry with Ryu Seung-beom. Even though they aren’t a couple in the movie (Joong-pil loves Min-hee, not Na-young), the sparks between them practically fly off the screen. I’m mesmerized by their body language (they are so attuned to each other!) and want to applaud whenever they have a scene together. And why not? I adore the two actors and love the fact that they were a real-life couple at the time of the movie. (They broke up subsequently, but the last I heard they are back together, hurray!)

When I was drawing up my list of Top Ten movies, I was flabbergasted that my favorites seemed to be mostly “heavy” and “masculine” stuff like The Chaser, Crying Fist, Bittersweet Life and Memories of Murder. Surely I had more varied taste than that! I loved funny and quirky, I loved rustic offerings like The Harmonium in My Memory and The Way Home. Which among these should I pick to round up my list? I mulled over the names for a while and then it became startlingly clear.

Conduct Zero, of course.

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10 thoughts on “Conduct Zero

  1. You make me wanna watch this thundie. In fact after reading your blog, I feel like watching all the Top 10 Movies that you have listed! (well, save for the No.1 spot..hehehe…)

    That poster looks incredibly funny btw.. I may check this out if I ever come across the DVD, that is. hehehe..

    I did check out The Good, The Bad and The Weird last night (thanx to your list..=P), and I loved it. Sooo quirky and fun! LBH and JWS were HOT, and Song Kang Ho was just so amusing… good action and good acting!

  2. Ooopss… I just checked your list, the movie isn’t there! Now where, if not yours, have I seen this recommendation? hahaha.. can’t remember anymore…

  3. Oops, ripgal, I’ve not watched The Good, The Bad, and The Weird, but I’ve heard mixed reactions to it. Great that you enjoyed it.

    I found Conduct Zero in a store. It’s a pretty obscure movie, but I like it better than others in the high school genre. It’s loads of fun. ^^

  4. Oh you like Harmonium too? I was having fun doing screen caps and captions at the thread a while back! I will definitely check out Conduct Zero just for the fun of it. Heard that RSB & GHJ are in relation 🙂 Watched him in Sunligth pours down and watched her in Sangdoo & Thank you.

  5. Hi Janie

    Is Sunlight Pours Down good? I have the DVD and watched a teeny bit of ep 1 just to check the subs. RSB’s part looks very promising (love the guy to pieces), but I heard the drama gets really draggy.

  6. Watched Sunlight a while back…yes, it’s pretty draggy but then at that time SHK was my sunbeam so no complaint ;P
    That’s the first time I watched RSB acting & he is good, could really feel sorry for his character, he is pretty stubborn there 🙂

  7. Yatta! The DVD arrived yesterday… I’ll watch it later after dinner. As much as possible I don’t want to have any expectations when watching a film, but I really can’t help to read some of the comments and it’s nice to know that it’s a fun film to watch…

    Thanks again Thundie…o^_^o

  8. It’s a fun film indeed… Honestly, I just watched it this afternoon… my plan to watched it immediately didn’t go well with my work schedule and it’s my off today so I made sure to watch it before dawn..hihi

    I have a lot of thoughts in my head about this film & I don’t know where to start… hmmm, I’ll just start about how cute, sincere & charming Ryu Seung-beom is in this film… albeit sometimes he really does remind me of Yoon Ke Sang (whom I also like). His charisma shows in a different manner and his expressions in every scene were just down right gorgeous…

    I don’t know why, but the story reminds me about the film I watched years ago “Dasepo Naughty Girls”… I’m sure it’s not the story but perhaps the feeling it will leave you for another unusual korean film. I also can’t help myself to mention the “mic incidents”, I always giggle whenever I see this be it on drama or movie..lol I saw it twice… =)

    Another interesting note for me would be to find out that Lim Eun-kyeong was the girl/doll in the film Doll Master. I watched DM long time ago when I’m not that knowledgeable on k-entertainment hence I didn’t know her name… Anyways, it’s interesting co’z for me Mi-na scared me a lot with those huuuuuge eyes of hers & made me believe that she’s like a true walking doll in real life that I wouldn’t not dare to have as a gift. She’s just soooooo creeeeepy for me so in Conduct Zero, it’s nice to delete my 1st impression for her…

    Overall, I felt like I’ve seen the film already yet I’m sure it’s my fist time to watch it and I really don’t know why but I think it’s a good thing… ^^

  9. Pingback: Biscuit Teacher and Star Candy: Episode 1 – thundie's prattle

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