Bad Education Director’s Cut Ending, Explained: What’s the Reason Behind Wang’s Smile?

Netflix’s ‘Bad Education: Director’s Cut’ is a Taiwanese crime action film about three high school graduates who go through hell in one night. Helmed by Kai Ko, the movie follows Wang Hung-chuan, Chang Po-wei and Han on the night of their graduation when they’re drunk and revealing unbelievably dark secrets to each other. It gets worse when Wang is given a dare, which eventually leads to them running for their lives. But the night is young, and there are plenty of horrors lined up. SPOILERS AHEAD!

Bad Education: Director’s Cut Plot Synopsis

‘Bad Education: Director’s Cut’ begins on a very dark note of a woman getting raped by a taxi driver, but the drunk high school teenagers on the roof only care about making this the best night of their lives. After throwing beer bottles on the cab, Wang, Han, and Chang discuss what life will be like for them after school. Wang is headed to college, but Chang and Han are troublemakers and don’t see a bright future ahead. To show his friends how badass he can be, Chang drinks a bottle of all their urine combined and decides they need to share their darkest secrets for the sake of brotherhood.


While Chang narrates how he raped the director’s daughter in school, which led to her abortion, Han picks up a brick to weave a convincing tale of how he smashed the heads of a homeless man and a street dog. Clearly terrified of these stories but also succumbing to the pressure of not being considered weak, Wang tries to make up some stories of his own. It’s soon obvious that his stories are very baseless. The other boys feel the need to bully Wang to bring him to their level, so they hand him a box of paint and an empty beer bottle to throw at a man on the street.

Wang is terrified but craves his friends’ approval, so he goes ahead with the plan, only to realize the man on the street is a gangster with many more dangerous aides. The boys run for their lives, but Han eventually gets cornered by the goons and is beaten up. Chang and Wang try to hide in the cab of the taxi driver. But as the gang closes in, Chang takes the wheel and drives off with the woman in the backseat with Wang. The woman from before, who is also drunk, doesn’t trust the boys. Wang still tries to comfort her and pacify the situation respectfully.

They’re two boys in a school uniform driving a stolen cab at night, and Chang knows how bad that looks when they come across a police check-post. He tries to reverse, but the woman suddenly wakes up and shouts out at the cops to rescue her. Chang panics and drives away in a hurry, but they soon have to find a place to hide. Two police officers on patrol take them into custody, but instead of the station, they bring them to the gangsters instead. Wang and Chang are reunited with Han in the most unfortunate circumstances in Hsing’s Seafood Restaurant, which is the gang’s hideout. Here, they’re introduced to the gang leader, Mr. Hsing, who won’t let them leave without payment.

Bad Education: Director’s Cut Ending: Why Does Wang Cut Chang’s Finger?

When the boys meet the gangsters’ sophisticated boss with an eerie calmness about him, they know this is all about survival. It seems the whole story is leading up to this point, indicated by the three chapters the film is divided into, the last two of which are about good and bad people. The police officer who delivered Chang and Wang to the gangsters, too, kept talking it. According to him, most people are neither good nor bad, and how they behave is dependent on the situation they’re in. It seems like he takes the boys to the gangsters with the hope that they will learn from their mistakes and experience what it feels like to face a grave situation and come to terms with their true nature.

When they’re all in this mess together, their hidden agendas start coming out. Chang, who always assumed he was the leader of his friend group, with his mysterious bad-boy charm as a mask, was the first to panic when they faced real issues. In his panic, he also revealed that his story on the roof was made up, confirming that he’s all bark and no bite. But he does have a way with words, and till the very end, somehow keeps convincing his two friends to give up their fingers and sacrifice for him. Han and Wang, too, always look up to him till they’re thrown in this situation.

After Han already sacrificed a finger, and Wang gave one too, Mr. Hsing wasn’t satisfied since Wang gave the wrong finger. Chang knew he was next in line, and there was no way out. Han soon realized that Chang didn’t care about the brotherhood he kept advocating and attacked Chang in his anger before he could somehow escape. With a nod from Mr. Hsing, Wang knew what he had to do, and walked towards a cornered Chang to chop off his finger. At this point, even Wang realized that the boy who was forcing him and Han to do things was himself a manipulator. Wang knew it was only fair for Chang to give up one finger too.

Why Does Wang Smile in the End?

It’s established from the very beginning that Wang is a conflicted teenager. He wants to do everything by the books so his rich dad can be proud, but he also wants his friends to accept him, who mostly care for mischief. Chang and Han seem to be jealous of Wang’s accomplishments, but for Wang, both his friends are his idols. Wang has clearly never done something that can be considered truly bad, till that night when, in an attempt to impress his friends, he hits the gangster with a glass bottle. This brings them on the radar of the gang, and after getting caught, they get to decide how they will come out of this. In their darkest times, they blame each other since each one thinks they’re in this horrible situation because of some slip-up of the others.

This brings them to the time when a decision needs to be made about which one of them will sacrifice their finger. Chang somehow manipulates both of them to give their fingers before him, and cuts them himself to make sure they follow through. But it’s soon clear that isn’t enough, and Mr. Hsing wants more fingers. When Chang isn’t ready to part with his, even if it might help them escape, Wang realizes that in the end, all of them are responsible for this mess equally, and need to pay for it. This is why, even if it appalls him, he confidently takes the knife and chops off Chang’s finger, making them all equals and free to go.

After this, while Han and Chang continue to groan in pain, Wang, who was supposed to be the most cowardly one of them, walks out of there with confidence and certainty in his eyes. He smiles because it seems like he knows he has paid the price for their mischief that night and is satisfied that all of them had to sacrifice equally. At this moment, his realization of the change he feels within himself, which is a transformation into someone who is not scared anymore, is much stronger than any physical pain that can bring him down.

Why Do the Gangsters Let the Boys Go?

Putting the debate about good and bad people to rest from the very beginning, Mr. Hsing makes it clear that everyone present in that room is a bad person, and they have made their peace with it. But even if they do illegal things and hurt people, Mr. Hsing goes by some rules, which are very important to him. For anyone who crosses paths with him, there’s a price they need to pay for his time. As the boys are responsible for attacking one of his own, it becomes his responsibility to make them pay. He is willing to accept a negotiation with someone in authority or money for their lives, but finally decides to settle for their fingers.

It also seems like Mr. Hsing wanted to learn about their nature, and how loyal they are to each other. This is why he just gives them a plate and a knife to decide who among them would give his finger. Things get a lot more interesting as the boys start negotiating for their lives and fighting about why they can’t part with their fingers. When they see that everyone, including Mr. Hsing, is missing a finger, they know there is no way out of there without losing one. Mr. Hsing thus lets the boys fight among themselves and when eventually there are three fingers on his plate, he feels satisfied that they have suffered enough and paid their price, after which no one stops them from leaving the restaurant.

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