Psychokinesis (film)

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Psychokinesis (염력).jpg
Theatrical poster
Revised RomanizationYeomnyeok
Directed byYeon Sang-ho
Produced byKim Yeon-ho
Written byYeon Sang-ho
StarringRyu Seung-ryong
Shim Eun-kyung
Park Jung-min
Kim Min-jae
Jung Yu-mi
Music byJang Young-gyu
CinematographyByun Bong-sun
Edited byYang Jin-mo
Redpeter Film
Distributed byNext Entertainment World
Release date
  • January 31, 2018 (2018-01-31)[1]
Running time
101 minutes
CountrySouth Korea
Box officeUS$7 million[2]

Psychokinesis (Korean염력; Hanja念力; RRYeomnyeok) is a 2018 South Korean superhero film[3] written and directed by Yeon Sang-ho.[4][5] The film stars Ryu Seung-ryong, Shim Eun-kyung, Park Jung-min, Kim Min-jae and Jung Yu-mi in the lead roles.[6][7] This is director Yeon Sang-ho's second live-action film, following his live-action debut Train to Busan in 2016. It is the first South Korean superhero film, and revolves around a bank security guard who gains telekinetic superpowers after drinking water from a mountain spring affected by a meteor, and decides to use them for saving his estranged daughter and her neighbourhood from an evil construction company.

Psychokinesis was released on January 31, 2018 in South Korean theaters, in both 2D as well as ScreenX formats.[8] The film was later on made available to stream globally on Netflix from 25 April 2018.


Shin Roo-mi runs a popular and successful fried chicken restaurant in a traditional market area. She becomes involved in a real estate battle with a mob-run construction company, Tae-san. The company plans to demolish the small businesses in the area and construct a large shopping center for Chinese tourists. One night while Roo-mi is forcibly evicted from her shop by the hired thugs of Tae-san, her mother is mortally injured in the violent clash. Later in the hospital, the death of Roo-mi's mother is interspersed with shots of a falling meteor.

Seok-heon, a seemingly happy-go-lucky security guard who engages in petty theft, gains telekinetic powers after he drinks water from a mountain spring hit by the meteor shown during the death of Roo-mi's mother. Roo-mi contacts Seok-heon, who is her estranged father, to inform him of the death and subsequent funeral of the mother.

He arrives at his ex-wife's funeral where he witnesses a confrontation between his daughter and President Min, who manages Tae-san's operations. Min attempts to compensate Roo-mi for her loss, which she furiously rejects and demands that he leave the funeral. Seok-heon learns more about the turf war from Kim Jung-hyun, an attorney at law and Roo-mi's friend. Seok-heon tries to reconnect with Roo-mi but she is still hurt from his abandonment of her when she was a child. When he later tries to demonstrate his newfound ability, Roo-mi accuses Seok-heon of being an irresponsible parent.

The local shop owners join Roo-mi in a shared legal battle against Tae-san as they have been refused compensation for the loss of their businesses. While they barricade themselves in a shopping arcade, Tae-san's thugs arrive and begin beating them. Seok-heon arrives and uses his powers to fight off the assailants, leaving everybody around him in shock and wonder. When Min attempts to report the events to the police, the officer on duty does not believe him, which greatly delights the shop owners as they are glad to have Seok-heon on their side.

Seok-heon further uses his telekinesis to build a large barricade around the market area, protecting the local businesses. Meanwhile, Min meets up with Director Hong, the owner of Tae-san. She is aware of Seok-heon's powers and to protect Tae-san, she orders Min to shut down his business and pretend that the development contract has been terminated, before starting another company under a different name and drawing up a new contract to demolish the local businesses. She uses her connections to gain support from the police and creates a diversion by having Seok-heon arrested under false charges. After removing Seok-heon from the situation, Min and his thugs order the riot police and SWAT teams to arrest the shop owners and destroy the barricade. Roo-mi and the shop owners flee to a nearby building with the police in pursuit.

After seeing the situation on the news, Seok-heon breaks out of his jail cell and musters the ability to fly. He flies to the site and sees one of the shop owners falling from a balcony in the midst of the pursuit. Seok-heon rescues him and places him on a safe building. As the shop owners reach the rooftop of another building, the SWAT team arrives via a portable building suspended on a crane. They capture Roo-mi and drag her onto the building. Unfortunately, the crane malfunctions and Roo-mi falls out of the building. Seok-heon swoops in and saves her, before leaving her in the care of the escaped shop owners. He confronts Min, who is in attendance with the riot police, and kills him before turning himself in to the police.

Four years later, Seok-heon is released from prison and is picked up by Jung-hyun, who announces his engagement to Roo-mi. They visit the location where Roo-mi's restaurant used to be, which is now empty and unoccupied land. Jung-hyun explains that Taesan's project was ultimately not profitable and construction has been delayed.

They arrive at Roo-mi's new restaurant, where Seok-heon reunites with his daughter and the local shop owners. He then uses his powers to serve drinks to the customers, much to everyone's delight. It is then revealed that Roo-mi named her new restaurant, "Superpower Chicken".


  • Ryu Seung-ryong as Shin Seok-heon
  • Shim Eun-kyung as Shin Roo-mi
  • Go Na-hee as Roo-mi (young)
  • Park Jung-min as Kim Jung-hyun
  • Kim Min-jae as President Min
  • Jung Yu-mi as Director Hong
  • Yoo Seung-mok as Mr. Kim
  • Lee Jeong-eun as Mr. Kim's wife
  • Kim Yeong-seon as Roo-mi's mom
  • Ye Soo-jung as Mr. Jeong's sister
  • Tae Hang-ho as President Min's subordinate


Filming began on April 17, 2017 and ended on August 6, 2017, in Chuncheon, Gangwon Province.[9]


Rated 15 by the Korea Media Rating Board,[10][11] the film released theatrically in South Korea on 31 January 2018.

It was later distributed globally by Netflix on 25 April 2018.

Critical reception[edit]

Richard Gray from The Reel Bits gave the film 4 stars out of 5, and called the film "A fresh take on a superhero origin story that combines sharp social commentary, comedy, and some impressively scaled action sequences."[12] Donnia Harrington from Comic Book Debate also gave the film 4 stars out of 5 and wrote that the film "hooks you with its story and its characters and is unapologetically aware that this isn’t Captain America. This isn’t Superman. This is Seok-heon, average joe with above average abilities."[13] Common Sense Media gave the film 4 stars out of 5 as well, and called it "an enjoyable movie for mature teens and up."[14] In another 4 stars out of 5 review, Emmanuel Báez from wrote "The director of the mega global success Train to Busan now takes another trend theme in commercial cinema - in this case, that of superheroes - and adds his own condiments to form a fairly solid story that only takes advantage of its premise to tell a story that is much more interesting in the background."[15] Rohan Naahar from Hindustan Times gave the film 3.5 stars out of 5, writing "It’s part redemption tale, part superhero origin story and especially in that showdown at the end, part Western. It’s another promising movie by Yeon Sang-ho, who has established himself as one of the most exciting voices to emerge out of this Golden Age of Korean cinema."[16]

Karen Han from the Thrillist also gave it a positive review and called it "One of the finest superhero movies of the decade." She also wrote "The only pity is that Psychokinesis isn’t receiving a theatrical release outside of South Korea. Despite being about an ultimately mundane conflict, it’s filmed with the same energy and grand sense of scale as any recent blockbuster. Maybe it’s a little silly, but all superhero films are. Yeon is just the rare breed of director who knows how to turn that kind of genre stamp to his advantage."[17] Joe Reid from wrote "This is a movie that starts out pretty strange, but it absolutely rewards you for sticking with it. It will also make you want to run-not-walk to track down Yeon Sang-ho’s previous film, Train to Busan, which got the director some of his best-ever reviews a couple years ago."[18] Eric Ortiz Garcia from Screen Anarchy responded positively as well, writing that the film "always leads us to the epic clash between the hero and the antagonists, inherent to the superhero film, and it doesn’t disappoint with its eventual visual spectacle; but it also keeps the story in a more humane margin, stressing on the fact that the protagonist is really only a father trying to be better than yesterday with his daughter."[19] Herman Dhaliwal from Cinema Sanctum wrote "It’s a joyous film that is absolutely worth seeking out because Yeon Sang-ho understands more than most that all the spectacle in the world won’t mean anything if you don’t have characters worth rooting for."[20]

The review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes reported that 80% of critics have given the film a positive review based on 10 reviews, with an average rating of 6.29/10.[21]

Box office[edit]

Psychokinesis opened in 2D and ScreenX formats in South Korean theatres on 31 January 2018. Released on 1,099 screens, it opened at the number one position[22] and surpassed the already running film Keys to the Heart, which released on 17 January 2018, for the number one spot in its first weekend of release.[23] It ran for 10 weeks, and collected $6.98 million at the box office.[24]


Award Category Recipient(s) Result Ref.
55th Grand Bell Awards Best Supporting Actress Jung Yu-mi Nominated [25]


  1. ^ "갑자기 '초능력' 생긴 서울 시민 얘기 그린 신작 '염력' 1월 개봉". 인사이트 (in Korean).
  2. ^ "Psychokinesis (2018)".
  3. ^ ‘Psychokinesis’ Trailer: ‘Train to Busan’ Filmmaker Turns to Superhero Genre With Netflix Action-Comedy
  4. ^ "염력".
  5. ^ "Daum영화 <염력>".
  6. ^ Kil, Sonia (18 April 2017). "'Train to Busan' Director Yeon Sang-ho Starts 'Psychokinesis'".
  7. ^ "'Train To Busan' director Yeon Sang-ho starts shooting next film".
  8. ^ Psychokinesis: ScreenX
  9. ^ "'염력', 크랭크업…류승룡 "행복했던 작품, 나도 기대돼"".
  12. ^ Review: Psychokinesis
  13. ^ Psychokinesis – Review
  14. ^ Psychokinesis: Common Sense Media
  15. ^ 'Psychokinesis', the director of 'Train to Busan' now thrills with superheroes
  16. ^ Psychokinesis movie review: Netflix’s phenomenal antidote to Avengers Infinity War
  18. ^ Stream It or Skip It: ‘Psychokinesis’ on Netflix, The Origin Story Of A New South Korean Superhero
  19. ^ Review: PSYCHOKINESIS, Sang-ho Yeon's Superhero Film Is Fun, Humane And Relevant
  20. ^ Film Review: Psychokinesis
  21. ^ "Psychokinesis (2018)". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango. Retrieved 16 October 2019.
  22. ^ Korean Box Office for the Weekend 2018.02.02 ~ 2018.02.04
  23. ^ HanCinema's Box Office Review 2018.02.02 - 2018.02.04
  24. ^ Psychokinesis: Box Office Mojo
  25. ^ "제55회 대종상, 각 부문 후보 공개…'공작' 12개 최다부문 노미네이트". Sports Seoul (in Korean). 21 September 2018.

External links[edit]