Meeting little Cho it appears to us that life has dealt this kid a bad hand. He’s missing a leg, he has bandages over his eyes so we assume he’s blind, and soon we will meet his abusive father who starts beating up his poor mother. Little Cho can’t have this. You would think an eight year old boy with one leg couldn’t do much, but then he uncovers his face. As it turns out Mama had the boy’s face covered, not to protect his eyes, but instead to protect us from his eyes. Cho has the Evil Eye. Ask his dad. Or not. This South Korean thriller has a couple of English titles, ‘Psychic’ or ‘Haunters’… hell if I know what either title has to do with this movie.
Twenty years later Cho (Kang Dong-Won) has grown up, has completely mastered his power, but to be honest he really isn’t bothering anybody all that much. Sure, he still uses his evil eye to get what he wants, to manipulate people, to steal and the like, but he largely keeps to himself.
Across town we meet hardworking Kyu-Nam (Ko-Su) who after getting plowed over by a speeding car, lost his job and is now looking for another job. The average cat who gets rundown by a speeding minivan dies, Kyu broke a few bones but amazingly he’s almost completely healed a couple of weeks later. Kyu’s honest nature gets him a job at a local pawn shop run by a kindly old man called The President (Byeon-Hie Bong) and his cute daughter Young-Sook (Jung-Eun Chae). Somebody has been stealing from the president and he has no idea how this could be considering his safe is tucked away under lock and key plus there’s a video camera doing surveillance . His hope is that Kyu can help him in preventing the store from getting ripped off.
Unfortunately this is one of the places Cho has been stealing from. On this particular day he freezes everybody with his evil eye then directs the president to open the safe and give him the money. Oddest thing this time though. Kyu seems to be becoming un-frozen. In fact with just a little effort Kyu is free from Cho’s hold and is about to stop him. Needless to say Cho freaks out but he gathers himself and simply directs the others in the room to put Kyu down. This situation has some tragic repercussions.
Now Kyu is on a mission, and that’s to bring Cho to justice. This is not going to be easy to do especially when the person you are pursuing essentially has the entire population of the planet earth at his personal disposal. The only thing Kyu has working for him is that he’s invincible. Hey, let’s just call him ‘Unbreakable’. He also has two really good friends who will do anything for him. Like die if necessary.
A lot of bad stuff is about to happen with Cho maintaining steadfastly that none of this bad stuff would be happening if it weren’t for Kyu. As you can see my man takes no responsibility for his actions. None. The showdown looms.
If I had to pull out one word for director Kim-min Suk’s film ‘Haunters’, that word would be ‘busy’. This is a movie that has so much frenetic energy coursing through its running time that sometimes it is difficult to catch your breath and absorb exactly what is going on around us in this film. Is this a good thing? I’m not completely sure of that as of yet. The concept is similar to Shyamalan’s ‘Unbreakable’ where you have this invincible guy, one who didn’t know he even had this gift until recently, dealing with a fragile psycho. But where ‘Unbreakable’ was deep and introspective, ‘Haunters’ is wild and over the top. ‘Unbreakable’ was the better film but ‘Haunters’ was definitely entertaining.
One of the things that works in this movie, and one of the films stranger elements is the relationship between Kyu and Cho. True enough Cho is a bad dude, but to his point he wasn’t killing anybody that we know of until Kyu showed up on the scene. Does this justify anything that Cho did? Well if you listen to Cho it does, but the character is crafted as such that you can kind of see his point of view. By the time the movie was coming to its conclusion Cho had just about completely lost his mind, but his flawed reasoning made sense for the flawed character.
Both actors did fine work, Kang-dong Won looking suitably creepy as our super villain and Ko Su blindly chasing justice as our blankly handsome superhero. If I have a complaint about ‘Haunters’, just like the character of Cho spirals completely out of control near the films conclusion, so to does the movie itself struggle to keep itself on the tracks as the hectic action, over bearing tragedies, the bloody punishment absorbed by both of our main characters was just a little too out there for my tastes.
But given a choice I’d rather have insane and over the top as opposed to Dull and Lifeless, and believe me, there was nothing dull about this movie right here. ‘Haunters’… ‘Psychic’… no haunting going on and no psychics anywhere in sight, but whatever they want to call it, it was a good and hectic time at the show.