Jang Joon-hwan brings us this power-packed South Korean action film, Hwa-i: Goemul-eul Samkin Ai, which talks about people’s inner monsters and their manipulative ways. The film stars Kim Yoon-seok, Yeo Jin-goo, Cho Jin-woong, Jang Hyun-sung, Kim Sung-kyun and Park Hae-joon in the lead roles. The movie brings up a lot of confusion towards the end. Watch the film before reading further. Here’s the Korean film Hwayi: A Monster Boy explained, spoilers ahead.
Plot Explanation – Long Story Short
Let’s go through the critical elements of this story in chronological order. Seok-tae, Ki-tae, Jin-seong, Dong-beom, Beom-soo all grow up together in the same orphanage called the Sungji Orphanage. The Orphanage’s Chief Director was a man named Lee Myung-taek. His son, Im Hyung-taek, helped around. The quintet is a crazy bunch. Seok-tae’s the maddest. He frequently sees a monster that is out to get him. This is his inner demon. Im Hyung-taek asks Seok-tae to pray to make the monster go away. But praying doesn’t help him. Seok-tae decides to let his inner monster loose.
Im Hyung-taek likes a girl in the orphanage, Young-joo. Seok-tae fancies her too, but she doesn’t reciprocate. Seok-tae sexually assaults her and chops off Im Hyung-taek’s leg. Seok-tae is free of his monster as he has become his monster. He’s taken to jail.
Years pass and the quintet are now living together. Seok-tae has kept Young-joo enslaved. The quintet goes by the name of Day Breakers, and they go around committing all kinds of crimes. Im Hyung-taek is now married and has a son, Geun-young. It is not mentioned why, but the Day Breakers decide to kidnap his son and hold him for ransom. But Im Hyung-taek informs the cops, and they try to take down the Day Breakers in an undercover operation (this is the scene in the train). The Day Breakers have the contact of a dirty cop who gives them this information. The covert operation fails, and the boy is brought back home with the quintet. Seok-tae decides to keep the boy and raise him as their own.
14 years pass.
The boy has been named Hwayi and grows up with 5 fathers and … umm … an oppressed mother. He’s being trained to become an assassin too. Hwayi is plagued by his inner demon because of who he’s growing up with. No, Seok-tae is not Hwayi’s real father. Monsters in the film are merely inner demons. The Day Breakers are still untouchable. The dirty cop calls with a job for them. He wants a house cleared for a powerful CEO. Coincidentally, the residents of the home happen to be Im Hyung-taek and his wife. They don’t want to vacate the house as they hope their son will make it back there one day.
The quintet knows who their hit is and Seok-tae purposely involves Hwayi. They break into the house and when Im Hyung-taek returns, they beat him up. Seok-tae hands Hwayi a gun and forces him to shoot. While Hwayi initially hesitates, he shoots and kills Im Hyung-taek, not knowing it is his own father. From the house, he also picks up a photo and some fliers of a missing child.
On conversing with Young-joo and snooping around a little, Hwayi finds out that the man he killed was his real father. He saves his mother from committing suicide, admits her in a hospital and heads off seeking revenge. He kills one of the Day Breakers. The rest go after him but lose him. Hwayi calls them all to Sungji Cement Factory. He also writes a letter to the evil CEO guy’s men to show up an hour before.
When both groups land up at the factory, they get into a feud. Hwayi positions himself at a high vantage point and snipes the opposition. Soon everyone is dead except for Seok-tae and Hwayi. Seok-tae receives a tip from the dirty cop about the mother who is admitted to the hospital, he heads there. Hwayi follows.
At the hospital, Seok-tae reveals the story all the way from the orphanage to the kidnapping to raising the kid. After this, he kills her and goes back home. Hwayi reaches the hospital too late , he goes home to confront Seok-tae. The detective who’s been after the Day Breakers is also there. The three of them have a standoff. Seok-tae proves to Hwayi how becoming the monster makes it go away. Seok-tae kills the detective and as he’s about to kill Young-joo, Hwayi kills him. Seok-tae dies with a smile because his “son” is now the monster he always wanted him to become.
The film ends with Hwayi sniping the evil CEO and disappearing into the crowds.