‘Psychokinesis’ adds a touch of magic to reality : Director behind ‘Train to Busan’ returns with a big-budget comedy
With Ryu Seung-ryong and Shim Eun-kyung at the center of the film, “Psychokinesis” is a black comedy about a financially struggling bank guard named Seok-heon (Ryu), who one day obtains the supernatural power to physically control his surroundings after drinking water from a mineral spring. After he learns of his new superpower, Seok-heon attempts to earn a fortune by staging a magic performance at a club. But soon after hearing about the sudden death of his ex-wife caused by an intense fight against demolition workers who are tying to push tenants out of their buildings for urban renewal, Seok-heon utilizes the superpower to save his daughter Ru-mi (Shim), with whom he had lost contact for longer than a decade, as well as other evicted residents fighting against demolition.
A man with supernatural powers fighting to save his loved one is a familiar story to many moviegoers. But Yeon, an animator who was behind the award-winning “The King of Pigs,” distinguishes his piece from movies of other similar plots by downplaying the roles of human villains - behind the demolition workers is a money-hungry conglomerate, and they are also victims of a social system where the strong controls the weak.
Although it takes the shape of a fantasy, at the center of the film is a realistic issue that may be a reminder of the Yongsan tragedy, in which residents protesting the urban renewal of Yongsan, central Seoul, clashed with riot police in January 2009.
“Similar to when I was working on ‘Train to Busan,’ I tried to include a realistic issue happening in Korea while dealing with a supernatural subject,” said Yeon during a press event held in central Seoul on Tuesday. “For [‘Psychokinesis’], I hoped to depict the clash between a hero and prevalent social problems derived from the process of modernization.”
“Though every movie holds a special meaning, I have been given more options to choose to do what I like following the success of ‘Train to Busan,’ [which sold more than 11 million tickets]. So taking this opportunity, I hoped to work on something unusual in Korea: a comedy blockbuster .?.?. This project would have been difficult to proceed were it not for the commercial success of ‘Train to Busan,’ and I don’t regret working on ‘Psychokinesis.’”
Other than being unusually high-budget for a comedy flick, the film also features an unusual villain: an innocent and delicate-looking woman with a genial smile that makes her difficult to dislike. Jung Yu-mi, who played a pregnant wife in ‘Train to Busan,’ pulled off the role.
“Jung was cast out of my wish to bring a new image of a villain .?.?. When I offered her the role, she was very willing to do it .?.?. I think the character turned out to have similarities with Jung’s actual personality in that they are both lively,” added Yeon.
The movie, slated to open Wednesday, co-stars Park Jung-min as a lawyer helping evicted residents, and Kim Min-jae as a leader of demolition workers. It is rated 15 and above.
BY JIN MIN-JI [firstname.lastname@example.org]