• Gifted (88 Films) Blu-ray Review

    Released by: 88 Films
    Released on: June 6th, 2018.
    Director: Jai-hong Juhn
    Cast: Beom-soo Jeon, Junghwa Bae, Jeon Beom Su
    Year: 2014
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    Gifted - Movie Review:

    Min-soo (Beom-soo Jeon) has just laid off from the insurance company he’s worked at for years due to company downsizing and, these days, is having trouble finding work. He’s had interviews but the shame of being let go and never advancing at his last job if hard for him to shake. He keeps all of this a secret from Sujin (Junghwa Bae), his pretty fiancé, but has to spill the beans once he learns that she’s taken out a sizeable loan in his name she intends to use to buy the café she works at from her boss in just a few weeks.

    Sujin is less than impressed and pretty much immediately leaves him, dating other men just to get back at him. Min-soo, however, tries to make up for things and promises her that he’ll do whatever he needs to do in order to get her the money she needs by the end of the month. He immediately takes a menial job at a chicken processing plant and a second job working as a driver for night time revelers that get too drunk to drive their own cars home. Meanwhile, Sujin’s brother, a petty criminal named Yaenwoo (Jeon Beom Su), makes his living stealing cell phones for a fence named Mr. Choi. Choi also deals in stolen cars, something that Yaenwoo would like to get in on, but Choi doesn’t think that he has what it takes. Min-soo uses what he learned in the insurance world to teach Yaenwoo the in’s and out’s of breaking into cars and helps him get into the stolen car business, splitting the profits with him – but it all goes south when Min-soo loses it with one of the drunks he’s driving home. One strangulation later and Min-soo has a body to get rid of and soon enough, he starts to find that he’s got a knack for murder… in fact, he seems to get off on it.

    A sufficiently twisted thriller with some strong horror movie elements thrown into the mix, Gifted at times feels a bit like Falling Down mixed with elements of American Psycho and Dexter – which is a solid combination that results in a solid movie. Not a perfect movie, mind you, but a very good one. Sujin could and should have been fleshed out a little more than she was, it might have made her less annoying – but at the same time, her traits align the audience with Min-soo’s plight which then puts the viewer into an interesting moral quandary. There’s food for thought here – was he a psychopath all along or did the pressures of his situation turn him into one and he just quickly adapted to it the way you might adapt to, say, a new job (which is all he was really looking for in the first place). Play to your strengths, we’re told, and that’s exactly what Min-soo does – it’s just that his strengths are rather reprehensible.

    The film does take a little bit of time to get going, but once it does it proves quite engrossing. This is thanks to a smart script and some strong performances. Junghwa Bae is the weak link as Sujin but Jeon Beom Su is really solid as her brother and Beom-soo Jeon is excellent in the lead. His breakdown and eventual acceptance of his lot in life are very well played. Director Jai-hong Juhn’s pacing is deliberate but effective and the movie’s intentionally low-fi, naturalist look suits the tone of the story quite effectively.

    Gifted - Blu-ray Review:

    Gifted looks really good on Blu-ray in this AVC encoded 1.85.1 widescreen 1080p high definition transfer from 88 Films on a 25GB disc. Shot digitally, there are no issues with print damage, dirt, debris or grain to discuss while detail is typically very strong. A few of the darker scenes look a tad murky but this looks to do more with the way that the movie was shot than the transfer itself. Otherwise, no complains here - we get nice black levels, very good color reproduction and strong depth in a transfer free of compression artifacts or edge enhancement issues.

    The primary audio option on this disc is a Korean language DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio track. A DTS-HD 2.0 Stereo tracks is also provided in Korean. Subtitles are provided in English only. The 5.1 mix is the way to go if your hardware can take advantage of it. Surround activity can sometimes be a bit subtle but that helps to build atmosphere and mood in a few key scenes. There’s strong channel separation in the scenes that call for it and the score is spread out nicely. Hiss and distortion are non-issues and the levels are properly balanced.

    Extras are limited to a trailer for the feature, menus and chapter selection options. This release also comes packaged with some nice reversible cover sleeve art.

    Gifted - The Final Word:

    Gifted might borrow a bit from better known western properties but it’s still strong enough on its own to be worth seeking out. The film has a nice flow to it and it gets pretty intense at spots. Additionally, it features some pretty strong acting and a few nice twists. 88 Films’ Blu-ray is light on extras but it does look and sound good, making it well worth the time of anyone interested in the subject matter.

    Click on the images below for full sized Gifted Blu-ray screen caps!