Run time: 100 min
Genres: Action | Sci-Fi | Thriller
Director: Min-suk Kim
Writers: Min-suk Kim
Stars: Dong-won Kang, Duek-mun Choi, Jeong Eun-Chae
After losing his job at a scrap metal yard, Kyu-Nam finds a new job at a small pawn shop named Utopia. He is immediately drawn to the family atmosphere at Utopia, working with his new boss Jung-Sik and boss’s daughter Young-Sook. Unfortunately for Kyu-Nam, his moment of happiness will only be fleeting. Cho-In lived through a brutal childhood. He has had to use a prosthetic leg since an early age, grew up with an abusive father and lived with a mother who at one point attempted to kill her own son out of despair. Cho-In also possesses an awe-inspiring supernatural gift. Cho-In can control other people’s minds when they are within his field of sight. One fateful day, Cho-In walks into the Utopia pawn shop to steal whatever money exists in the safe. Not expecting much resistance, Cho-In is surprised to find one man at the Utopia pawn shop is able to break free from his mind control abilities. That man is Kyu-Nam. Cho-In then resorts to killing the owner of pawn shop to make his escape. … Written by Anonymous
|Plot Keywords: paranormal, psychic|
Country: South Korea
Release Date: 10 November 2010 (South Korea)
Review In One Breath: A man who can control people's minds (as long as they are within his line of vision) encounters a person who is immune to his powers. After an unfortunate death, they square off against each other. Within the opening 15 minutes you'll know that this one is gonna be crazy. Realism is not a priority, which means that this roller-coaster ride aims simply and solely to entertain. The premise allows for some very unique sequences that are refreshingly different, shocking, and damn exciting. The psychic's victims move in a slow, methodical, creepy manner that creates an ominous mood.
I'm quickly becoming a fan of Dong-won Gang, who starred in "Woochi", "M", "Secret Reunion" and a few other films. Here he plays the villain with panache and charisma. The scriptwriting in "Haunters" could have added more character development, but it's still a lot of fun to watch. My favorite scenes are the car chase and the office balcony sequences. The premise itself is fascinating and the film did a good job in terms of executing some thrilling interaction between the protagonist and antagonist, which does get over-the-top at times but is charming so.
Some have complained that the origins of the characters' special abilities were not explained, but what kind of ridiculous explanation should we expect? Another generic biological mutation that we see in superhero movies? Sometimes it's better just to leave the exposition alone because any attempt at a scientific explanation would be flat out preposterous anyways. I think it's best to approach this film like one would approach those old school Hong Kong action flicks that throw logic into the wind while focusing on pure entertainment. Sit back with a cappuccino and relax. You'll enjoy it.
Superheroes don't always need to come in the form of Marvel or DC Comics characters; rather, they can just be everyday individuals with special powers living regular lives. Perhaps one of the best films to expound on this was M.Night Shyamalan's "Unbreakable", a story of two individuals coming to terms with who and what they are, as well as their place in the world relative to each other.
Kim Min-suk's feature debut owes more to Shyamalan's "Unbreakable" than it does to the superhero Marvel or DC Comics blockbusters. It grounds its two characters- one the hero, and the other the villain- in commonplace circumstances, and thereby injecting a healthy dose of realism into the movie. On one end is Kyu Nam (Ko Soo), a former scrapyard worker turned pawnshop manager; and on the other, Cho (Kang Dong Won), a disturbed young man with a troubled childhood and innate mind control abilities.
The alternative English title for this movie is "Psychic" and it is Cho that this title is referring to. In the film's opening scene, a young Cho is seen blindfolded while his father berates his mother for letting their child live- until the blindfold slips and his father kills himself by snapping his own neck backwards. His mother tries to kill him upon witnessing his terrifying powers, but fails. Twenty years later, Cho gets by through robbing pawnshops while making everyone else around 'freeze' as if time had stopped.
Kyu Nam however turns out to be immune to Cho's psychic abilities, and when he tries to stop Cho from robbing his boss' pawnshop, Cho responds by killing his boss in a particularly gruesome manner. Just like that, Min-suk sets up the feud between Kyu Nam and Cho at the centre of the movie. It is their conflict that drives the rest of the narrative, as both of them are pushed to understand their place opposite each other.
Through Kyu Nam, Cho discovers a newfound fallibility to his apparent invincibility; while through Cho, Kyu Nam discovers a greater sense of purpose as the counterbalance to Cho's heinous ways. The showdowns between the two are inevitable, and Min-suk stages a few thrilling exchanges- in particular, one of them that takes place in a crowded subway station is especially gripping to watch.
Cho's blatant disregard for human life however may be disturbing to some, especially since some of his victims tend to meet their deadly fates a little too casually for comfort. The only levity the film provides is in the form of Kyu Nam's buddies- one from Ghana, and the other from Turkey, both of whom can speak perfect Korean. Their banter with the simple Kyu Nam provides some much-needed comic relief in a movie that can turn deadly serious very quickly.
Both Ko Soo and Kang Dong Won turn in compelling performances, even though one may naturally prefer Ko Soo's more empathetic one. He makes his character's apprehension felt keenly, especially when Min-suk clearly sets him up as being mismatched against Cho's superpowers. On the other hand, Dong Won cuts a chilling presence as the villain, giving his character an intensity that you can't quite help but be enraptured by.
Those expecting some form of answers as to the origin of Cho's abilities, or Kyu Nam's, should however be prepared to be disappointed. Min-suk offers none, preferring that his audience accept it as part of the nature of mankind and the inherent differences between individuals. This is only Min-suk's second movie, the first as a co-writer on Kim Jee-woon's kimchi western, The Good the Bad the Weird, and it proves his strengths as a helmer. Gripping and never for one second less than interesting, "Haunters" is one unique Korean movie you shouldn't miss.
The description of this movie alone convinced me to watch it, and the cover said it was better than any superhero film, and I'd say they weren't far off.
It reflects a very Korean style; kind of unsure about what genre it wants to be, switching between drama and comedy, but having just enough character development to have you care about the important characters but not explaining anything you don't need to know, held up by great actors.
There's some very memorable scenes in this film, and some very memorable performances, along side a great story, similar in some ways to American films like Unbreakable and Chronicle. The score to the film was also good, and quite fitting, while not necessarily memorable.
Overall I give the movie 8/10 and recommend it to anyone wanting to see a semi-dramatic movie with many entertaining, exciting, superheroesque themes.
Cho-In (Gang Dong-won) has a remarkable ability: he can control the actions of anybody that he can see, up to and including large crowds. He has no friends, or family for that matter in fact, as a child he forced his father to kill himself and almost killed his mother too but he doesn't need people, except to have them do his bidding such as giving him all the money at a place of business. He has no fear, because nobody ever remembers him or what happened when he had control over them. Kyu-nam (Ko Soo), on the other hand, has supernatural powers of healing, which he needs as he seems to get into physical jeopardy fairly often. He and his two friends Bubba and Al, from Ghana and Turkey respectively, live life joyously although they are poor and work in a junkyard. After an accident, Kyu-nam is fired, but finds himself a new job in a family-run pawn shop, a place he very much likes. That is, until Cho-In comes along to take money from the old man who runs the place; and Cho-In is himself in for a shock when he discovers Kyu-nam, who turns out to be the one person Cho-In cannot control with his mind. As these two characters interact, the deadly body count starts rising, and it seems there's no way to stop more carnage, for Cho-In is determined to erase Kyu-nam from existence, seeing him as a threat, and Kyu-nam is damn near indestructible….
This is one of those wonderful Korean movies that has a bit of everything: it's really funny, really sad, full of horrific deaths and full of loving exchanges. Oh, and it tells a really good anti-superhero tale, too. One thing I've rarely if ever seen in Korean films is non-Korean (or non-Asian) actors, so it was a special treat to see a Black man from Ghana and a Caucasian from Turkey unfortunately, I couldn't discover the actors' names, but they were both excellent sidekicks. But the show belongs to Ko Soo and Gang Dong-won, as two men with inexplicable abilities doomed to be enemies to the death; recommended.