In actor Kai Ko’s directorial debut, “Bad Education,” a seemingly innocuous high school graduation celebration spirals into chaos over the course of one fateful night. Centering on three friends at a crossroads in life, the film delves into the repercussions of crossing moral boundaries in social conduct.
While Taiwan has seen its fair share of “one crazy night” films, “Bad Education” distinguishes itself as the darkest entry in the genre. Its gallows humor pushes boundaries and explores transgressive impulses with a relentless cynicism that may unsettle some viewers.
Despite its provocative content, the film has garnered attention on the international festival circuit, premiering at the Udine Far East Film Festival and continuing its journey with screenings at events like the Buncheon International Fantastic Film Festival. As Kai Ko’s directorial debut, it marks a significant step in his career redemption, following a tumultuous period after a 2014 drug arrest. The involvement of seasoned talents like executive producer Midi Z and frequent collaborator Giddens Ko adds further intrigue to the project.
The narrative revolves around Chang, Han, and Wang, who find themselves on a rooftop after their graduation ceremony, seeking to solidify their bond by sharing their deepest secrets. What starts as a harmless exchange takes a dark turn when Chang goads Wang into committing a violent act against a gangster, setting off a chain of events that sends the trio fleeing through the city streets.
Structured into three chapters, the film juxtaposes moments of frantic action with tense interpersonal dynamics. While the chase sequences are energetically paced, the quieter moments showcase the characters’ evolving relationships and inner conflicts. The performances of the young leads effectively convey the fractures in their friendship, exacerbated by societal pressures and personal insecurities.
However, the film’s handling of sensitive subjects, particularly sexual assault, has drawn criticism. Some scenes are deemed tasteless and potentially offensive, overshadowing the film’s other merits.