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The Gifted Hands - Movie Poster
Original Title:

South Korea 2013


Kwon Ho-young

Kim Kang-woo
Kim Beom
Lee Joon-hyeok
Park Hyeok-kwon
Seo Hyeon-cheol
Park Seong-woong
Kim Yoo-bin

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The Gifted Hands

aka Psychometry

Story: Detective Yang (Kim Kang-woo) has trouble with his superiors because he made money on the side by working for a pyramid system company. Things don't pan out for Yang at the moment anyway, but when he hears from a mother that her daughter has disappeared he gives it his all, even though none of his colleagues believes in a kidnapping. However, three weeks pass and the body of the girl is found. The media is frantic since the police didn't take the case serious. When Yang sees the crime scene the body has been found he realizes that it looks exactly like the graffiti of an unknown boy he ran into by chance a few days ago. Is he the culprit? Yang is looking into this with the help of his friend Yang-soo (Lee Joon-hyeok), although he has been suspended. He eventually finds out that the boy's name is Kim Jun (Kim Beom). He confronts him, but soon realizes that he isn't the killer. But how else could he have known about the location of the body even days before the police has been informed? Detective Yang has to get used to the thought that Jun might have a supernatural ability.

Review: You would think that you can't do much with a familiar story. And yes, this in fact the case with "The Gifted Hands" as well. Yet, you will be surprised how charismatic some of the characters are drawn. Additionally, as a thriller the movie often enough pushes the right buttons to create some suspense and ensure that we remain interested in the story. It's also astounding that the supernatural aspect of the film at some point simply starts to blend in without really being a bother. Maybe the biggest strength of the thriller, though, is that it creates the expectation of a better tv movie but then surpasses itself. You still shouldn't expect something out of the ordinary, but the end result is still a pretty entertaining thriller nonetheless.

The Gifted Hands - Film Screenshot 11

Detective Yang is depicted as a naive police detective, who gets involved in a pyramid system, although he should know best how things like this play out. Even his friend, who makes money with a mobile snack stall, turns out to be a lot smarter during the investigation than him. The reason why we still can take Yang serious is that his heart is in the right place and because he isn't a complete bonehead. Kim Kang-woo ("The Taste of Money", "The Railroad") has a lot of fun playing his part and makes the most of it, even though his role is written pretty sloppily. Kim Beom as the supernaturally gifted crybaby on the other hand is a problem. His passiveness and constant self-pity soon start to get on your nerves.

The Gifted Hands - Film Screenshot 12

So, a real relationship between the two protagonists unfortunately doesn't unfold, yet a brotherly bond is supposed to connect the two towards the end. But this happens too late, until that point the two have clashed on one too many occasions. Furthermore, it remains bothersome that Kim Jun is permanently tangled up in the past and regards his gift as a curse, even though it's pretty obvious that he could help the detective with it. Yang's efforts at persuasion needed are a bit far-fetched. Sure, Kim Jun is traumatized but why shouldn't he want to help rescueing a little girl? Is it necessary to lock yourself up? To mingle with people shouldn't be a problem since in some way he actually is able to control his gift, otherwise he would be overwhelmed by visions just by touching any object.

Sadly, there wasn't much effort put into sketching out the villain. There is no special surprise here and so everything is running its usual course in the thriller. But since the kidnapping victims are children you are feeling more captivated by the story than usual after all. Some coincidences are a little bit too much, though. Of all possible children the kidnapper chooses the one Yang gave a whistle before. And why does the little girl make use of it when it is already too late even though she holds it in her hand all the time? The paths the screenplay follows are too noticeably fabricated, which also becomes apparent in the fact that Yang maneuvers himself in a dead end which he can only get out of while being completely on his own - or with the help of Kim Jun.

The Gifted Hands - Film Screenshot 13

A nice addition is the humor, though. In some unexpected places it frequently flashes up and a good balance is maintained between comedy and the otherwise rather dark mood. Moreover, the investigation rarely comes to a halt. There are constantly new hints popping up which need to be looked into and thus "The Gifted Hands" has nearly no lengthy scenes. Also amazing, despite the aforementioned criticism, is that the two protagonists eventually share a certain connection after all, which especially at the end makes the movie go down the right path emotionally. It just happens a little bit too late. The biggest surprise, though, is that "The Gifted Hands" doesn't feel as familiar and boring as it would look on paper. A solid thriller that offers nice entertainment.

(Author: Manfred Selzer)
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