Bad Education

In Competition for the White Mulberry Award for First Time Director

Bad Education

黑的教育 (Hei De Jiao Yu)

Taiwan, 2023, 77’, Mandarin
Directed by: Kai Ko 
Screenplay: Giddens Ko
Photography (color): Chen Ta-pu
Editing: Shieh Meng-ju, Lee Huey
Production Design: Sunny Wu Jo-yun
Music: Wong Kin-wai
Producers: Ko Yao-zong, Jeffrey Huang, Midi Z, Giddens Ko, Molly Fang 
Cast: Berant Zhu (Po-wei), Kent Tsai (Hung-chuan), Edison Song (Han Chi), Huang Hsin-yao (Policeman), Liu Chu-ping (Policewoman), Chang Ning (Drunk Lady), Leon Dai (Mr. Hsing)

Date of First Release in Territory: March 3rd, 2023 


Very few films have epitomised the phrase “f--- around and find out” as well as Bad Education. As the title suggests, the film shows how much trouble three young men get into when they decide to mess with something that they should’ve stayed away from. It shouldn’t bring anyone joy to see a film’s heroes get dragged through the wringer, but seeing the three anti-heroes of Bad Education squirm and wince as they get their just desserts is all part of this violent dark comedy’s wicked fun. 
Bad Education is the directorial debut of Kai Ko, the handsome leading man of You Are the Apple of My Eye, The Road to Mandalay and Till We Meet Again. Not only is Ko supported by a script by Giddens Ko – the famous author who wrote and directed You Are the Apple of My Eye and Till We Meet Again – he also has the help of his award-winning Road to Mandalay director Midi Z as producer. Bad Education is somewhat modest in its ambitions with a brief 77 minute running time, but the relatively small scale of the story enables Ko to focus on delivering a thoroughly entertaining and focused narrative that moves at a rapid clip. Editors Shieh Meng-ju and Lee Huey keep the film lean and mean without feeling like it’s rushing things along. 
Giddens’ script wastes no time in throwing audiences into the story, opening on a rooftop as three young men – Po-wei (Berant Zhu), Hung-chuan (Kent Tsai) and Chi (Edison Song) – get wasted to celebrate their high school graduation. Things take a dark turn when Po-wei and Chi begin a toxic game of one-upmanship by comparing their deepest, darkest secrets (which are too shocking to even repeat here). When the other two aren’t satisfied by goody-two-shoes Hung-chuan’s contribution, they dare him to smash a glass bottle over a hoodlum across the street so he would have his own dark secret. When Hung-chuan really goes through with it, the trio immediately go on the run from a gang that is hellbent on catching them. 
Bad Education actually starts off with a police officer (played by director Huang Hsin-yao) talking about the ratio of good and bad people in the world. But Bad Education isn’t about good and evil; it’s about everything and everyone in between. Po-wei, Hung-chuan and Chi are selfish and even wicked, but they’re ultimately just kids who need a tough lesson to straighten them up. The gangsters who chase the kids are ruthless criminals, but they’re not wrong in wanting to punish these kids for assaulting one of their own. Making audiences question the moral gray area that the characters live in gives Bad Education a strong dramatic footing to support its pitch-black humour. 
Though Bad Education has its share of sex, violence and generally bad behaviour on display, Kai Ko manages to have his cake and eat it too by making the film a very effective (and morbidly funny) cautionary tale about the dangers of doing very unwise things for peer approval. The lesson sounds like an obvious one, but it’s especially timely in an age when people often go on the internet to outdo each other in extreme behaviours for clicks and likes. Pulling off that delicate juggling act makes Bad Education an auspicious start to Kai Ko’s directorial career.  


Kai Ko


Kai Ko became an instant star when he played the lead role in Giddens Ko’s directorial debut You Are the Apple of My Eye, for which he won Best New Actor at the Golden Horse Awards. He was nominated for Best Actor at the Golden Horse in 2016 and 2021 for Midi Z’s acclaimed drama The Road to Mandalay and Moneyboys, respectively. Bad Education is his directorial debut. 


2023 – Bad Education

Kevin Ma
Film Director: Kai KO
Year: 2023
Running time: 77'
Country: Taiwan