October 11, 2016

Gifted: Unemployment As a Choke

Hunky actor Kim Beom-joon has a challenging task in front of him with Gifted. For writer-director Juhn Jai-hong's tawdry thriller, he must make us believe that his Everyman character Min-soo, a fired corporate drone unable to find a new job, is going to go from an introverted boyfriend with a Crossfit body to a murderous car thief who self-induces eye-rolling orgasms whenever he strangles someone to death. The switch-over from nebbish to sociopath happens after a very long day during which he's worked two menial jobs — manual labor at a chicken processing plant and temporary chauffeur for responsible drunks seeking a lift home in their very own cars. When an inebriated former coworker gets a little nasty and belittles his intelligence from the back seat, an enraged Min-soo pulls over then chokes his old colleague to death. After a before-bed spritz with bathroom disinfectant followed by a good night's sleep, Min-soo realizes that stealing cars may be good for his wallet but killing their owners can do wonders for his self-esteem.

I'm not going to point out the obvious flaw in the logic here, absurd as it is, because I'm more concerned right now with why none of his victims scratch him or knee him or bite him or poke him in the eye. Sure they're all three sheets to the wind but is no one capable of leaving a scratch on their attacker? Could he really survive all these murders and strut around in his designer underwear without a single mark on his Chippendales bod? And what is his ultimate goal? Once he's paid off the loan for the coffee shop recently bought by his girlfriend (Jeong Soo-jin), couldn't he give it a rest for awhile? Especially considering the box filled with money he finds in the trunk of one car! Or does strangling release endorphins like any strenuous exercise? Does he continue to choke simply to keep his arms in shape? It's not a good idea! Because you can see his violent ways creeping into his sex life — his mercenary girlfriend's acceptance of his asphyxiation kink is particularly disturbing. Juhn doesn't seem to have a bigger message here. We're basically disturbed then the credits roll.

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