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Dasepo Naughty Girls
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by Jay Seaver

"Could be naughtier."
3 stars

SCREENED AT THE 2007 FANTASIA FESTIVAL: "Dasepo Naughty Girls" is based on an internet comic stRip, and it's got that kind of manic energy: It starts out with a whole bunch of quick, raunchy gags that aren't much more than crude but don't really need to be. By the end, though, it's started to pull its punches a little, and stitched together more story than it really needs.

"No Use High" is a multi-religious high school whose students probably have names, but we don't hear them much. Poverty Girl (Kim Ok-bin) carries her poverty around on her back, and her attempts to sell her virtue for money tend to go bizarrely awry. She's got a huge crush on Swiss exchange student Anthony (Park Jin-woo), who meanwhile has fallen hard for Two Eyes (Lee Eun-seong), the beautiful sister of outcast Cyclops (Lee Kyeon). Only issue: She's actually a boy. Meanwhile, Anthony's friends are launching an investigation into why Class Monitor Girl (Park Hye-won) and Student Vice President Girl (Nam Oh-jeong) are suddenly more interested in studying and getting into college than putting out after trips to the principal's office.

Dasepo has a lot of the same feel as American Pie in how it's superficially very crude while at the same time celebrating its characters' youthful innocence. Sure, the movie opens with a bit where a substitute announces that their English teacher won't be coming in because he's being treated for syphilis. Oh, and Class Monitor Girl, you should get checked to. Which leads to another student saying he has to leave class early to visit the doctor. And then another, and so on until poor Cyclops is sitting there all alone. As much as the movie makes jokes about casual promiscuity, it doesn't go in much for actual titillation: The scene where Poverty Girl becomes an internet sensation is almost ridiculous in its tameness - it feels like more than it is because it's one of the only times we see her not weighed down by her mother's financial problems and ill health.

The story of the principal making all the hot girls into nerds winds up taking up too much of the film's middle section, though, and it's not really all that funny. It almost feels like Lee had a bunch of extra characters from the comic strip that didn't really fit into the chain formed by Poverty Girl, Anthony, Cyclops, and Two Eyes, and threw them into that. It's got a suitably over-the-top finale (I double dog dare an American filmmaker to have a bunch of high school students defeat a monster that way), but I found myself wishing that they'd found something for those characters to do that was as funny as what was going on with Poverty Girl. Even at that, Lee seemed at loose ends with what to do with Bellflower (Kim Byeol), who by her placement in the credits is probably a more prominent character in the strip than she was in the movie.

Lee and company do a lot of things right, though. The film is bright and fun to look at, the musical numbers (complete with karaoke lyrics so the audience can sing along!) amusing, and the characters are a genial lot. Kim Ok-bin, especially, is a complete charmer as Poverty Girl, and Park Jin-woo makes Anthony hilariously shallow without making him a complete ass. Lee Won-jong is pretty darn funny as "Big Razor Sis", the cross-dresser whom Poverty Girl falls in with. And it's tough not to love the energy the film projects when it gets going.

"Dasepo Naughty Girls" is uneven, which is almost to be expected from a movie that is almost just a series of skits. Maybe it should be a little naughtier a little more often, although then it would risk losing what makes it as much fun as it is.

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originally posted: 07/09/07 01:28:13
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2007 Fantasia Film Festiva For more in the 2007 Fantasia Film Festival series, click here.

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Directed by
  Lee Jae-yong

Written by
  Lee Jae-yong

  Kim Ok-Bin
  Park Jin-Woo
  Lee Kyeon

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