Saturday, January 28, 2012

"Haunters" - Some Things Explained (Spoilers)

Haunters Explanation

There was an article a while back on, about the 10th New York Asian Film Festival and its screening of "Haunters". It seems that a lot of people did not "get" some things about the movie, which I find quite strange. I find it strange because most of them were obvious to me and I am not some genius here.

Someone commented "Asian films are provocative and cutting-edge, but not always easy to understand." Well, you'd have trouble watching most of them then, because you would really be in the dark about many things.

So, allow me to shed some light here. Major spoilers for the movie ahead, of course.

Kyu Nam has 3 powers. He could resist Cho In's mind control, he had very quick regenerating ability and he had some sort of contact with the "other side".

His amazing ability to be indestructible can be seen quite early on. He is hit head on by a speeding truck and he recuperates unusually fast. Ali says that even the nurses were talking about it. Throughout the film, you can see hints to that ability. He gets stabbed by scissors and doesn't stop. Then he gets zapped with the stun gun, which knocks you out pretty fast, but he held on for a while before fainting. Having been zapped and stabbed, he gets up and grabs the stretcher with his boss on it in the hospital. And if you haven't understood by then, a train hits him and he bleeds all over, but survives it and wakes up after a short nap, all healed from major internal and external hemorrhage. After some sleep and no medical attention.

"This will take at least 4 hours of sleep to heal, you jerk..."

Also, his communication with the other side can be seen quite early too. He looks up at the sky in the very beginning and then, when he says he heard his boss' voice in the hospital, it's more evident. His boss was gone and he certainly wasn't able to speak by the time they got him to the ER. You can also be 100% sure about this near the end, where his friends show him the nitro switch for the car.

The article has one part about the ending too. It says "Is the movie about the struggle between an average man against the extraordinary? The director replies ‘No’ by adding the last 30 seconds in the ending." The director replied no from the very beginning and pretty much stated that these two men were born special, born for each other and were meant to fight it out. Kyu Nam's powers were exactly what he needed to defeat Cho In. They were custom made to be of use in specific moments in time, all leading to what was "their fate". Cho In was supposed to be stopped and Kyu Nam was born to stop him.

That is a realization Cho In himself comes to, when he chooses his final showdown with Kyu Nam, having apparently decided to take this to the end.

Cho In

"I finally understand why my powers won't work on you. But I wanted to live too."

The fact that they are complete opposites in many aspects is shown in many ways, which I also mentioned in my review of this. Kyu Nam has people who like him and he is easy to like. Cho In is someone everyone turned against. One is skinny, the other healthy. One lives among people, the other locks himself away from them. Even their wardrobes show their differences. But they are also two people with a tough life. Two people who were born special and could have communicated under different circumstances. But it wasn't their "fate".

Which brings us to the very ending and the confusion there might be about Kyu Nam's recovery, although I hope that issue is solved by now, with my explanation.

That was a pretty long fall there and Kyu Nam survived because of his ability. Not even a human pillow would ease such a fall and with all his skinniness, I bet Cho In damaged Kyu Nam even further. Protruding bones must hurt when landed on. But this was quite a "biggie" in terms of injury, so Kyu Nam could not recover so fast. He was quadriplegic for a while, because his body needed time to heal and it needed an emotional boost and some adrenaline to kick it back to normal. Which he got, when he began fulfilling his own destiny and life's purpose.

A hero is born

"I won't die until I kill you. I will kill you and live till I die. And save as many as you have killed"

That is what he said to Cho In and the ending is showing us that goal is well on its way to being fulfilled. He has become the hero which he unwillingly was during the movie. He has found and accepted his calling. Being someone who can save lives and protect people. If this were a superhero saga, this would be the prequel on how our hero became the spandex-wearing savior of the city.

As I mentioned in my comment on the Hancinema copy of this article, to a small degree, I do understand why American audiences might not have spotted Kyu Nam's superpowers in certain cases. Hollywood overdoes it with its action and the abilities of action heroes, which are being passed as normal for human beings. You know, an action lead can shoot all baddies and somehow, dozens of bullets from dozens of shooters never hit him. Or he manages to break a car or house window with his bare hands, without major cuts and pieces of glass embedding themselves into him.

There are so many inhuman and unrealistic things that heroes in Hollywood movies do, that it can get hard to know what is and what isn't humanly possible sometimes. But I am a loooong long time fan of American movies too. I only got into Asian cinema very recently and there are still some elements in this movie which are too obvious to be mistaken for humanly possible. Even if the car accident or even the stabbing and stun gun didn't cause some suspicions, getting hit by an oncoming train, breaking a whole cement post with your back, bleeding heavily and then getting up and going to find your friends after catching some z's is just not possible, even for Hollywood tough guys.

Beauty sleep
"Just give me a moment to replenish my lost liters of blood and heal the major trauma"

While it's a shame people had so much trouble with understanding the movie, it seems the visitors of that festival did like it and would watch more Korean cinema, so I guess the movie's entertainment value still held up well and impressed. It is a good movie and an entertaining one. I do not feel it was something incredibly poignant, but it did have its good moments, some simple things to say and it was a downright awesome ride. A good "layman superhero" movie. And I should not have used a phrase including "lay"... Now my mind has gone to fangirling side again.

But before I leave you to go kyaa myself silly, I hope I explained some things and that the movie is now a bit clearer. Maybe it's because I have just been exposed to movies for so long, that these things feel easy to spot while they may not be so evident for average viewers. Or maybe they weren't so obvious. Whatever the case, here is my explanation and I hope it was useful.

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