I’m Walking on Air

Psychokinesis — Yeon Sang-Ho

Psych

Yeon Sang-Ho’s 2018 Psychokinesis is a superhero movie. It stars Ryu Seung-ryong, Shim Eun-kyung, Park Jung-min, Kim Min-jae and Jung Yu-mi.

Shin Seok-heon (Ryu Seung-ryong) is a bank security guard. He’s content to waste his life filching supplies from the bank and drinking himself into a stupor every night.

 Then:

  • His estranged daughter Shin Roo-mi (Shim Eun-kyung) contacts Seok-heon with the news that his ex-wife is dead, killed in an altercation with thugs.

  • A sip of meteor-tainted water imbues Seok-heon with psychic powers.



His daughter Roo-mi owns a successful restaurant. It may soon be a defunct restaurant, as the mall in which it is located has been slated for demolition. Rather than compensate tenants for the forced move, the owner hired Min and his bunch of thugs to chase away the tenants. That’s cheaper than compensating them. It’s those goons who inadvertently kill the ex-wife, those goons who get away with it.

Meanwhile, Seok-heon has discovered that he can move objects simply by willing it, which suggests a career change. Working as a stage magician pays so much better than working as a security guard. He does not use his powers to help his daughter. Rather than intervene, he advises her to give up any resistance.

But when his daughter is directly threatened, Seok-Heon does intervene. He’s visiting his daughter when Min and his thugs pay an unfriendly visit. Seok-heon tosses the crooks around like nine-pins until the police arrive and break up the fight. Min complains to the police that Seok-heon was wielding weird powers, but the police don’t believe him.

Unfortunately Min’s gleefully malicious employer Hong Sang-moo (Jung Yu-mi) does. Moreover, she knows just who Seok-heon is. Dude never bothered to don a mask and hide his real identity. Hong threatens to denounce Seok-heon as a North Korean terrorist unless he agrees to work for Hong.

 ~oOo~

If you’ve ever wanted to see a movie in which a mob boss seems sincerely concerned for the well-being of his goons, this is the film for you. Much the same goes if you’ve ever wondered how the bad guys manage their accounting challenges. Unfortunately for Min, he works for someone who focuses on the prerogatives of her position rather than on the obligations a boss has to their underlings. Poor Min.

In some ways, this is a mirror image of Train to Busan: Seok-heon is poor, while Train’s Seok-woo was well to do. In Train, mundane individuals faced an extraordinary threat while in Psychokinesis, an extraordinary individual faces a mundane threat. But both films centre on family issues.

For those playing the home game, this is the second movie I’ve seen by Seon Sang-ho where the central issue is a father’s desire to rebuild his relationship with his (quite justifiably) estranged daughter. Granted, two is a very small sample, but … I wonder if the pattern extends to their other movies?

Hong and Seok-heon share a view of how Korean society works. The enthusiastically villainous Hong tells him:

[quote] Everyone else, including you and me, are just slaves of this society. Why can’t you accept it? Know your place, please. That’s the lesson your daughter will learn from getting arrested. [/quote]

And that’s why Seok-heon was reluctant to intervene in the first place. He knows that the cards are stacked against the little people. Resistance will not be tolerated. And it is not. In contrast to how this would work out in an American film, the forces of good — the press, the well-meaning lawyer whose infatuation with Roo-mi is poorly concealed, and Roo-mi’s neighbours — are a pretty ineffectual lot. Even Seok-heon’s impressive powers are the wrong tool for the problem that faces his daughter.

This all sounds like it should be a downer of a film. But Seok-heon doesn’t really expect to bring down Hong and her minions. All he wants is to keep his daughter safe and rebuild his relationship with her. That’s a struggle he can hope to win.

Psychokinesis is available here (Amazon). If it is available from Chapters-Indigo, that is a well-hidden option.


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