Howdy all you Supercultists out there on the interwebz! I’m Bad Movie Professor Cameron Coker (BS in “Kung Faux” with a minor in “Magic Martial Education”) and I’ll be posting my hype-tacular speeches every week along with some long lost speeches from past Supercult Shows!
This week Supercult is nervous because we’re being transferred to a new school up in the mountains, but even though it’ll be tough making friends and doing well in class, we know we can make a new life for ourselves at Volcano High!
WaSanGo, aka Volcano High, is in turmoil. Nearly 20 years of constant fighting amongst both teachers and students has turned the school into a battlefield. When transfer student Kim Kyeong-su arrives, he quickly befriends the top dogs at the school and the group begins to unlock the secrets of their potential and the key to bringing harmony back to the school. Volcano High is about to erupt, and Supercult brought popcorn!
WoSanGo is a 2001 South Korean martial arts action/comedy by critically acclaimed director Kim Tae-Kyun. With the style and themes of famous western films such as The Matrix and Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, WoSanGo the film is a riotous mish-mash of kung-fu action, psychic power duels, and high school drama and was the 9th highest grossing Korean film of 2001.
Then MTV got their hands on it.
When WoSanGo was first released in Korea, its plot centered on a mystical manuscript that is told to hold great power and could bring peace to the school. The soundtrack was a mostly high-intensity rock and roll, and the whole film was around 2 hours long. In the American re-release of Volcano High, nearly 30 minutes of the film was cut out and many of the remaining scenes were rearranged to bring the film down to an hour and a half. The main plot of the original film is entirely cut out and the sub-plot revolving around a group of villainous teachers is moved to the foreground. Meanwhile the soundtrack was replaced with popular hip-hop music of the time and many of the events of the film and relationships between the characters were altered. Even details such as the location of Volcano high are altered. In the Korean version the location of the school is never revealed, while in the American version the school is said to be located in the mountains of Kim Tae-kyun. Spoiler Alert: There are no such mountains. Kim Tae-kyun is the name of the original Korean director.
But all this is pretty standard Supercult fare. What really pushes Volcano high from merely annoying to downright insulting is the dubbing. Volcano High was redubbed by contemporary hip-hop artists including Snoop Dogg, Method Man, Lil’ Jon, Big Boi, Tracy Morgan, Andre 3000, Mya, and, of course, the late hip hop legend Pat Morita, aka the guy who played Mr. Miyagi in the Karate Kid Movies. I guess they needed an actual Asian in the cast, even if Morita is Japanese-American, not Korean, and even if and his accent is better than most presidential candidates.
The result is a hilarious jumble of disjointed story moments punctuated by cringe-worthy dialogue. The film seems eager to jump to the next fight sequence as if to placate an already murderous audience. What was once an entertaining, if over-the-top kung-fu romp is now a watered down, pop-culture cash in drivel!
But perhaps I’m being a little too harsh. Perhaps it’s not so much insulting as it is silly and…just…bad. But wait! There’s more!
Volcano high was re-released as part of Kung Faux, a TV series that remixes classic kung fu movies with new storylines, new visuals, new pop soundtracks, and voice-over dubbing by contemporary art stars, hip hop personalities, and pop culture icons. Created by Mic Neumann, a self-proclaimed cultural engineer, and Kung Faux has received copious praise for its “hysterical and clever infusions” and “high-flying, hilarious send-up[s] of the kung-fu genre.” Neumann’s work has been heralded as “Comedy Gold”, and “worthy of the Postmodernism canon”.
So the question here is really this, Supercultists: Is Volcano high a volcanic pile of $#!^? Or are you just not cultured enough to appreciate it?
Volcano High has an IMBD score of 6.0, and on Rotten Tomatoes it has no critic reviews, but a 65% audience score. Don’t question it. It’s art.
The Supercult show is proud to present, Volcano High!