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Bad Genius (2017) (DVD) (English Subtitled) (Hong Kong Version)
Chutimon Chuengcharoensukying (Actor) | Teeradon Supapunpinyo (Actor) | Eisaya Hosuwan (Actor) | Nattawut Poonpiriya (Director)
Bad Genius (2017) (DVD) (English Subtitled) (Hong Kong Version)
Cruel truth behind exam cheating
November 30, 2017 Picked By Pisces See all this editor's picks
Education is important for young people to acquire not only knowledge but also proper social and moral values. However, these values can easily vanish in a goal-oriented education system, under which cheating may become a "strategy" to score high marks in exams. Inspired by the large-scale exam-cheating scandal that happened in Thailand in 2014, director Nattawut Poonpiriya (Countdown) calls for serious reflection on the country's education system and social inequality in the mind-blowing high-school heist thriller Bad Genius.

Played by model-turned-actress Chutimon Chuengcharoensukying, math prodigy Lynn is admitted to a prestigious school on a scholarship thanks to her great academic achievements. She helps her kind yet dull-witted friend Grace (Eisaya Hosuwan) cheat on exams to get into the drama club. After discovering their trick, Grace's rich boyfriend Pat (James Supapunpinyo) offers to buy answers from Lynn, who is struggling to pay the school's compulsory extra fees. Lynn then creates a set of cheat codes for Pat and other paying classmates. Pat and Grace plan to study overseas so they ask Lynn to help them cheat again on the STIC, an international standardized test for university admission that takes place at the same time in different countries. Lynn devises a risky cheating plan to earn even bigger profits, and recruits honest scholarship student Bank (Chanon Santinatornkul) into the scheme.

Many high school dramas incorporate exam-cheating scenes, but very few of them focus on the topic. Bad Genius shows many innovative yet realizable cheating methods, but it doesn't intend to teach students how to pass exams through these unethical ways. The blockbuster breaks the typical youth drama framework by creating the tense atmosphere of heist thrillers with its well-knit plot and close-up shots that captures the protagonists' anxiety and nervousness. The growing fear reaches its height when Lynn is chased by an examiner who resembles the frightening agents in The Matrix.

Despite its humorous tone, Bad Genius reveals the serious problem of a corrupt education system and class struggle in Thailand. Born into modest families, gifted students like Lynn and Bank have to fight for scholarships if they want to pursue their studies in high-ranking schools. On the contrary, wealthy students like Pat can easily climb the social ladder in spite of their poor academic performance. Money becomes the key to success that tempts students to compromise their integrity in exchange for better lives. It also becomes an easy tool for students to turn to dishonest methods for better results in the score-oriented school system.

Bad Genius opens up a new realm for school dramas by adopting the crime genre. Exciting cheating scenes and unexpected plot twists are densely packed into the 130-minute running time without a moment of boredom. By adopting a brilliant, light-hearted approach, the film conveys the angst of students in an unfair society and delves into deep-rooted social problems that resonate with audiences all around the world.

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