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Monday, December 22, 2003

Volcano High, MTV

I think, by and large, the general public has come to accept that MTV (Music Tele-Vision) can no longer be held responsible for their music video interests. So when commercials started airing on said network for a martial arts film called Volcano High, I wasn't really surprised.

Volcano High was originally a Korean martial arts movie, Whasango, from 2001. Now, it's been dubbed with the voices of hip hop stars for 2003. When you think about it, it's a pretty slick idea- it makes just as much sense as any other celebrity voice-overs.

Our hero is Kim Kyeong-su, voiced by Andre "Ice Cold" 3000. When he was a kid, there was an accident with some lightning and some eels, and he ended up with superpowers. (Before you start whining, three words: "radioactive spider bite." Shut it.) So he keeps getting kicked out of schools because he has a tendency to daydream and accidentally use his telekinetic-type powers. He's easy to spot- he's the blonde. So far, he's been booted out of eight schools, and his last chance is Volcano High, school number nine.

Volcano High seems to work kind of like prison- if you don't have a gang, you're fair game. So Kim is pretty much in trouble from the moment he arrives. However, since he really wants to graduate high school, he's trying damned hard to behave himself, in spite of the fact that he's getting jumped by just about everybody (the local gang, the rugby team, the all-ladies kendo team), and not in a good way.

This movie tends to follow some formulas that you can see in other martial arts movies and in anime. We have the standard characters: the new kid just trying to get by, Kim, the dick/bully, Jang Ryang (voiced by Lil' Jon), the guru type, Hakrim (voiced mellifluously by Snoop Dogg), the tough girl, Song (voiced by Kelis), the girl who isn't easily impressed, Jade (voiced by Mya), and, of course, the bad guy, Mister Ma (voiced by Method Man). Also making a fabulous appearance is Pat Morita as the Vice Principal. The standard anime rule holds true: you'd best watch out for whoever has the stupidest hair.

The special effects are pretty ginchy, smacking lightly of The Matrix, and the stark setting of the run down school gives a nice, doom-y feel (although why the hell it's called Volcano High is beyond me. I didn't notice any volcanoes.)

Plot wise/story wise, it's pretty standard stuff if you're at all into the genre. Of course, with the standard formula we have the standard problems and plot holes: characters who couldn't even put a dent in the bad guys/were rendered half dead by them sixty seconds prior are suddenly and inexplicably limber, unbruised, and spontaneously able to kick some ass.

As for the hip-hop stars dub, well, if you don't like dubs, you won't like this one, obviously, but as I said, it makes as much, if not more sense, than any other celebrity dubs. Snoop Dogg in particular does a damned fine job as the enlightened and unflappable Hakrim, and Method Man is smoothly menacing as Mister Ma.

Will you like it? Well, if you liked movies like The Faculty, less the non-human element, this might do it for you, or if you're a fan of other quasi-obscure martial arts films, like Versus, you might also dig this. If you go into it looking for The Matrix or Kung Pow: Enter the Fist, you'll be disappointed. If you go into it expecting nothing but reasonably good special effects, a plot which is passable, if not watertight, and dialogue that doesn't quite match up with the actors' lips, then you'll probably have a good time. Hell, if you have cable, it's free.

Volcano High first aired on December 21st, 9 p.m. EST, and will air again on Christmas Day, December 25th, at 3 p.m. EST, and again on December 28th at 1:30 p.m.

Review by Sally at 4:05 am
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