AsianMovieWeb logo
Original Title:

South Korea 2010

Thriller, Mystery

Kim Min-suk

Kang Dong-won
Ko Soo
Enes Kaya
Abu Dod
Jeong Eun-chae
Yoon Da-kyeong
Choi Deok-moon
Yang Kyeong-mo

Search AsianMovieWeb


aka Psychic

Story: Cho-in (Kang Dong-won) is an extraordinary man with a special ability. He can control everyone in his sight with the power of his mind. For his parents this made him a monster, which is why he has been abandoned by them. Therefore, years later, he solely uses his power to get rich whereas his ruthlessness knows no bounds.
Kyu-nam (Ko Soo) loses his job at a scrap metal yard and eventually finds a new one at a pawnshop. He likes his new boss and his daugther right from the start but one day Cho-in gets by and wants to rob the pawnshop. Normally, no one would witness the act itself, but for some strange reason Cho-in's power doesn't work on Kyu-nam. Being irritated Cho-in leaves, but during the mugging Kyu-nam's boss dies. Kyu-nam now sees it as his duty to stop the criminal and Cho-in wants to get rid of this one individual that stands as a disruptive factor for him. In Kyu-nam's fight against the criminal his friends Ali (Enes Kaya) and Bubba (Abu Dod) are lending him a hand, but even together they don't seem to have a chance against the power of Cho-in.

Review: "Haunters" may have reminded you of the entertaining "Arahan", however, the PR department decided to put the movie on the market as a horror flick or mystery thriller. To be honest: The movie is none of the above. If anything it resembles a mystery thriller, but the film is so ridiculous at times that you don't know if you are supposed to take it serious. Yet, this time the blame can't be put on a small budget, as the pictures and special effects don't need to hide from bigger productions. The problem is the script which isn't right no matter how you look at it and which sometimes even gives you a real headache. The development of the plot line is absolutely far-fetched, the characters evolve in no way at all and seem rather colorless leading to the supporting characters oftentimes looking more interesting than them. All of this is made even worse by horrible dialogues that obviously show that the filmmakers most of the time didn't know where to go with their story, which is why they are unnecessarily treading water.

At least visually Kang Dong-won ("Maundy Thursday", "Secret Reunion") can be convincing. His look reminds us a bit of L from "Death Note" which somehow gets him some brownie points. Furthermore, it's pretty apparent that the big success at the Korean box-office was significantly to his credit. Mainly female fans will have stormed the cinemas because of him and with that they have earned the movie very neat attendance figures and unjustly so. But despite a small attempt to explain him being a monster as the result of his childhood experiences the drama can never be called convincing and the reasons for Cho-in's behaviour remain completely incomprehensible. He is a monster for the simple reason alone that the film is in need of one. That's all. Ko Soo ("White Night", "Some") on the other hand can't convince as the good guy either. The problem is his motivation. Why exactly is he chasing after Cho-in? Is he really worth it to put the lives of his friends and numerous innocents in danger?

Here the biggest obstacle for the viewer to take the movie serious takes effect. Kyu-nam doesn't really care at all that he is putting others in danger. He isn't simply fighting against Cho-in but also against anyone that the villian is controlling. And those are innocent people who are absolutely unaware of what they are doing. Most of the time, Kyu-nam doesn't waste a thought on that, he is solely interested in bringing down Cho-in. Only when his friends' lives are in immediate danger he starts to pause for a moment. That's why you somehow get the feeling that he is indirectly responsible for the death of several individuals as well. Understandably that's why you can't really relate to him. But for that he also lacks the necessary three-dimensionality. In fact, he hasn't really any characters traits that you could find good or bad. Furthermore, the scriptwriter's decision is questionable to grant him a special power as well but treat it like no one is aware of it, not even he himself! Kyu-nam apparently has incredible regeneration powers that allow him to be overrun by cars, hit by a subway and being stabbed by others without his life being ended.

Then there are also two foreigners in the movie. That's always a tenuous subject, but surprisingly they by no means make the movie worse. On the contrary, they are the only ones that can win a bit of the viewer's sympathy. Still, it remains problematic that someone constantly has to note that Enes Kaya's Korean is great (although it surely is), because that way it often looks like as if he and Abu Dod have been thrown into the film as some sort of attraction. That's why they sometimes look like foreign matter, however, the only few good scenes in the movie are with them, because their friendship with Kyu-nam brings at least a little bit of warmth into the movie and because they do a good job as sympathetic figures in general. Also, their acting isn't really that bad. The other supporting characters like Yeong-sook, played by Jeong Eun-chae, fall completely by the wayside and you also have to wonder what purpose they serve in the movie. Yeong-sook is solely in the movie as a final pressurizing medium against Kyu-nam, and that's it.

There are many scenes in which whole crowds of people are being frozen in time. Even though sometimes one or two individuals are shaking a bit this is still pretty impressive and when they jump down from buildings like lemmings this is also quite shocking. Apart from that "Haunters" can be pretty cold, gritty and merciless, but it can't create a coherent mood.
Director Kim Min-suk has worked on "The Good, the Bad, the Weird" as assisstant director and also wrote on the script of that film. He also assisted in the making of "The Host" or "A Bittersweet Life". All of that being fantastic movies, but he couldn't really copy anything of the skills of the top-class directors he worked with. "Haunters" tells a horribly flimsy story, that a film student could have written on the toilet and which doesn't have any coherent structure which means that the film just stumbles from one scene to the next. Therefore, "Haunters" is almost an embarrassing attempt of creating a supernatural mystery thriller, which surely isn't something you need to see.

(Author: Manfred Selzer)
Buy this movie:

Yesasia Logo