DVD Review HTF REVIEW: Volcano High/Whasango

Discussion in 'DVD' started by Michael Osadciw, Mar 30, 2005.

  1. Michael Osadciw

    Michael Osadciw Screenwriter

    Jun 24, 2003
    Likes Received:
    Real Name:
    Michael Osadciw



    Studio: 20th Century Fox
    Film Year: 2001

    U.S. Rating: PG-13

    Film Length:[*] SIDE A: MTV VERSION - 81 minutes[*] SIDE B: KOREAN VERSION - 122 minutes
    Genre: Kung-Fu/Fantasy

    Aspect Ratio:[*] SIDE A: 1.78:1 non-anamorphic[*] SIDE B: 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen
    Colour/B&W: Colour

    Audio:[*] English Version: Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround[*] Korean Version: Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround
    Subtitles: English, Spanish
    Closed Captioned: Yes
    SLP: US $29.98

    Release Date: March 22, 2005.

    Entertainment Rating:[*] MTV VERSION [​IMG] [​IMG] / [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG][*] KOREAN VERSION [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] / [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]

    Starring: Hyuk Jang (Kyeong-su Kim), Min-a Shin (Chae-i Yu), Su-ro Kim (Ryang Jang), Hyo-jin Kong (Yo-seon So)

    MTV Voices: Andre 3000, Snoop Dogg, Method Man, Tracy Morgan, Pat Morita, Big Boi

    Directed by: Tae-gyun Kim
    Written by: Tae-gyun Kim & Dong-heon Seo

    Someone needs to be hit very hard kung-fu style. I don’t know what they were thinking, but why in the world would anyone want to take a hit Korean film, edit it down by forty-one minutes and re-arrange the scenes to fit a semi-new story that has been completely re-dubbed by American rappers? Even more so, who would want to watch it? Those are the questions I was thinking through my head as I was going through this MTV re-edit of a movie called Volcano High. But don’t stop reading yet! The highlight of this disc is the original version of this movie, Whasango, on Side B.

    The advertised purpose of this DVD is for the re-edit of this movie. Personally, I think it's absolutely brutal in every sense. This MTV re-edit atrocity keeps the story line of a student named Kim who keeps getting expelled from all of his schools. He has a secret power that makes him very strong and using this force keeps getting him into trouble. He arrives at his ninth school, Whasango (aka Volcano High), where he pledges to himself that he will not use his powers. Unfortunately for Kim, there is rivalry between the students at the school. They all seem to be a part of sports teams and when they aren’t in class, they all fight kung-fu style to be the best at the school. Kim tries his best to stay out of it, but with increasing pressure from the rival groups, sooner or later he’ll have to change his mind.

    The story doesn’t seem so bad, does it? Well, it isn’t actually. It's actually very good with great visuals. What is despicable is the whole concept of brutalizing this film for a North American TV audience. First of all, the rap music just does not go with the stylization of this film. The fast motion kung-fu action deserves hardcore music rather than beats that made me expect a bouncing car full of tokers to pull up at any moment. Obviously, the next setback is the actual voices themselves. I mean seriously, I’m watching Korean people on screen but I’m hearing drowned-sounding low and monotone rapper voices with their own accents out of the U.S.A. It just doesn’t work. Like, c’mon, if an alternative existed, at least use some hard-rock music and voices from Marilyn Manson, Rob Zombie and the like along with their music. It would fit better with the toughness of this film. Unfortunately, we live in a hip-hop crazed culture and most kids would ignore it (damn right I’m pissed that rock/alternative has the back seat on MTV, MUCH, etc) and I don’t think the artists would ever consider it. So, as you can imagine, there was barely a moment I could stand this re-dub and re-cut of an otherwise decent film. If there was one good thing done to this, it is the computer animation used to change Korean characters into English.

    Ok, so the MTV version sucked big time. What about the Korean version of the film on Side B? There have been many cuts of this film depending on what market you live in. Anything from twenty minutes to a half hour has been chopped out from the original Korean version. From what I know, this seems to be the full 122 minute version.

    The story is relatively the same, although this time we see more friction between the weight lifting team, the kendo team, and the rugby team, as well as the whole school faculty! This is one school that isn’t kind to newcomers and Kim finds that out quickly. With matrix-style fighting, a live action anime style, and camera viewpoints that only birds and bugs regularly see. This is a much more exciting version of this film. It's fun because it's a little over the top with glass shattering, suspended fighting students, and walls coming down, etc. Also interesting, but less believable is a sub plot about a Secret Manuscript that entitles anyone who owns it to rule the world. The vice principle wants it to become principle(!) and the captain of the weightlifting team wants it because he wants to be the best student in strenght and fighting at Volcano High. Of course, there are some cutie little Korean girls (who can kick some serious ass) whose hearts must be won by our competitors. Who’ll be the sidekick to the leader of the girl’s Kendo team? She may never have a choice.

    This is a much better structured film then the MTV cut (who wouldn’t guess that?), but there are some continuity issues with the movie. First, Kim seems to have no friends. Then all of a sudden it seems as if there are several people who befriend him very quickly. There seems to be something missing there. I’m not entirely crazy about some of the editing in the film either. The story just doesn’t flow as nice as I’d like it leaving me to piece together a lot of the story in my head.

    An interesting aspect of this film is the hairstyles – yes, I said it – hairstyles. I’ve never seen so many crazy haircuts in one movie before. But these styles suit Asians very well to the point that I’m jealous. I’ve got thicker hair that’s never flowed and is useless to style. Thus, I have to admire the hair in this movie. Crazy? I know. Truthful - yes.

    The Korean version is in its original language and has removable English subtitles. This is not a definitive version of this title on this DVD. Overseas there are shorter cuts available and include a DTS-ES 6.1 soundtrack (here we get Dolby 2.0 Surround) as well as a separate disc full of special features. This DVD is really meant to satisfy the MTV audience rather than fans of this Korean film. But this is the only release available for it in Region 1.

    [​IMG] [​IMG] / [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]

    The MTV version is presented in the 1.78:1 aspect ratio of this 1.85:1 film. It is also NOT anamorphically enhanced as the packaging states. The video quality is so-so from a non-enhanced feature. It shows the grittiness of the original production although it lacks real resolution and is not a good reference by any standard.

    The Korean version on the other hand is much more defined. Its use of filtering, colour desaturation and edge enhancement makes it kind of gritty looking at times. The image is mostly grey-blue with a hint of colour here or there. The white levels are peaked many times and black levels can be deep but a little undefined. The image is very acceptable though and is probably very representative to the theatrical presentation.


    As I mentioned before, the MTV version has its soundtrack virtually scrapped and redone. There are few sound effects because most of the dialogue re-dubbing is carried on by the music beat. This is done in 5.1, but there is little to no ambient and directional effect. The music is just spread out to all channels. The soundtrack is also very “quiet”. It feels like I’m sitting in the same sound-proof box beside Snoop Dogg while he’s saying his lines. In other words, the dialogue is poorly integrated.

    The Korean version is better. It’s a little on the bright side, especially with all of the screaming they do, but there are a lot of directional effects across the front soundstage to keep up with the visuals. Bass extension is adequate, but I imagine the absence of the LFE channel really cut bass back on this soundtrack. Dialogue is a bit on the thin side, but that is probably more due to the matrix decoding rather than the recoding itself (which sounds better in stereo). Overseas there are DTS 5.1 and DTS-ES 6.1 soundtracks depending on what region you live in, so I was disappointed to not even have a Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack here.


    Here we get one special feature called The Making of Volcano High. It’s about fourteen minutes in length and has interviews with the MTV voice-over cast. It’s not that amusing really, but if you are a fan of the rappers and TV talents then you can watch them here. There are no special features on Side B for Whasango.


    If you are an MTV nut as well as a fan of these rappers and TV talents, Side A of this disc will be more for you, especially if you hate subtitles. But if you want to see the movie as how it was intended, do yourself a favour and flip the disc to Side B. It’s a much more enjoyable film – not perfect – but entertaining nonetheless. I still can’t believe the MTV version exists…no wonder I abandoned music video channels long ago…

    Michael Osadciw
  2. Chris S

    Chris S Cinematographer

    Apr 9, 2000
    Likes Received:
    Real Name:
    Chris S

    I almost did after reading the first few sentences. I love martial arts films but after reading what MTV attempted with this movie I was about to throw this one out all together. However given that Side B has the original film I'll throw this on the Netflix list and give it a shot. Thanks for the review!

    Chris S.
  3. Garrett Lundy

    Garrett Lundy Producer

    Mar 5, 2002
    Likes Received:
    Guess which side of the DVD is going to have a large number of scratches on it (rendering it unplayable) when i rent it?
  4. Travis W.

    Travis W. Second Unit

    Jun 11, 2004
    Likes Received:

    I've considered doing that to the fullscreen sides of somd discs but never had the guts (militant video store) [​IMG].
  5. Ed St. Clair

    Ed St. Clair Producer

    May 7, 2001
    Likes Received:
    I thought this was fantastic when I saw it, once, on MTV.
    Wanted the DVD, right then and there. Now I'm looking forward to seeing the original. Thanks for the review.
    A non-OAR and non-anamorphic transfer for the MTV version, makes this a highly unlikely buy for me. There's way too much well done product out there too spend my money on this.
    It's in the $5.88 bin;-)!
  6. Kain_C

    Kain_C Screenwriter

    Nov 17, 2002
    Likes Received:
    I scratched my head when I saw that "rappers" were dubbing the voices and rap "music" would be on the soundtrack. But I didn't know it had been edited down! What a disgrace! And I don't want a DVD sitting on my shelf that has the likes of Snoop Dog and the sort on the cover.


    is the funniest thing I have read today! Cheers!
  7. dave bula

    dave bula Stunt Coordinator

    Jun 7, 2004
    Likes Received:

    MTV play actual MUSIC videos? Er, that was quite a few years ago too, wasn't it?
  8. Diallo B

    Diallo B Screenwriter

    Dec 18, 2002
    Likes Received:
    i have been waiting to see this for a while. i wanted to see both the mtv version and the original.

    i attempted to watch the mtv version but after 10 minutes i could not tolerate it. but it was not because it had a 'hip hop' vibe. it was just poorly done and from the few minutes that i had seen of the original i knew that mtv had done a hack job.

    on a side note, in response to the reviewers opinion that a redub in hard/alt rock would have been better. i could not disagree more. the point here was there just should have been a better effort to properly cast a good voice over crew. mtv's effort was atrocious. their editing was atrocious. this was not a fault of 'the hip hop craze'. it was a fault of mtv's poor choices.

    properly done a hip hop or rock cast could have made the mtv version more palatable.

    back to the dvd.

    it amazes me that people always want to make something english. i watched the subtitled korean version, and aside from the fact that the subtitles include the 'hard of hearing' descriptions, i thought that the movie did not need to be touched. (i am not sure if the erroneous subtitling was mentioned in the review)

    i would love to experience a 6.1 version of this movie. hopefully i can come up with one soon.
  9. Donnie Eldridge

    Donnie Eldridge Supporting Actor

    Jan 3, 2001
    Likes Received:
    When I first heard MTV was going air Volcano High I simply cringed. [​IMG]

Share This Page