The Chaser

"Very Good"

The Chaser Review


Already slated for a Warner Bros. remake scripted by The Departed scribe William Monahan, Na Hong-jin's forceful debut The Chaser continues South Korea's recent trend of cliché-obliterating genre hybrids, walking in similar footsteps as Bong Joon-ho's Memories of Murder and Park Chan-wook's Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance.

Thinking that two of his girls have been sold, lowly pimp and one-time detective Joong-ho (Kim Yun-seok in a pulverizing turn) dangles Ma-jin (Seo Yong-hie), one of his remaining girls, as bait for the man he suspects of selling them off. As it turns out, the women are being tortured and bludgeoned to death by boyish serial killer Young-min (Ha Jung-woo). By chance, the killer runs into Joong-ho's car while fleeing his horror-show abode, the blood of his victim still on him. After a chase through his neighborhood, the killer is caught and, upon arrival at the police station, almost immediately confesses.

That only covers the first 30 minutes of this (overlong) two-hour crime dazzler. As Joon-ho's The Host was more about the family tracking the beast than about the monster itself, The Chaser ironically has more interest in procedure and police ineptitude than it does with the chase. After his arrest, Young-min acts casual about his murder of 12 or so people, admitting what he did but offering no proof. Given only 12 hours to prove that Young-min is guilty before the prosecutor frees him, the entire police squad gets in on the hunt. The police get caught in the muck of departmental bureaucracy, laziness and stupidity, as Joong-ho goes rampaging through the streets with Ma-jin's daughter and his incompetent assistant at his side.

Shot by newcomer Lee Sung-ja, this mutated procedural shifts its tone effortlessly between white-knuckle suspense and investigatory drama, with dollops of comedy and horror throughout. What is striking is how Hong-jin also creates a consistently gloomy mood. There are pangs of eerie discomfort, such as when Young-jin tries to flirt with a female inspector (Park Hyo-ju) by telling her that he can smell that she's on her period. The director, along with co-writers Hong Won-Chang and Lee Shinho, also plays with some excellent gallows humor: On the run from the cops, the young killer is asked to defend an elderly shopkeeper's store with a hammer.

As the film enters its third quarter, some of its detours begin to feel more habitual than methodical, especially one involving Ma-jin's daughter running away. There's also a bit of nonsense involving the mayor of Seoul getting hit with a handful of poo. The belt could use some tightening. Nonetheless, the director proves a deft weaver of nuance and emotional trajectory: There's a genuine moment of horror when Joong-ho realizes that his women were really murdered, not just sold-off.

Since he handled Infernal Affairs' adaptation so well, one has hope that Monahan, who also provided the smart script for Body of Lies, will not change the film's hulking ferocity and will rather tighten its more meandering dramatic detours. That is if the remake ever sees the light of day.

Aka Chugyeogja.

She now has seven days to live.



The Chaser

Facts and Figures

Run time: 125 mins

In Theaters: Thursday 14th February 2008

Distributed by: IFC Films

Production compaines: Harry Langdon Corporation

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 3.5 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 83%
Fresh: 24 Rotten: 5

IMDB: 7.9 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director: Na Hong-jin

Producer: Choi Moon-su

Starring: Harry Langdon as The Husband, Gladys McConnell as The Wife, Helen Hayward as The Wife's Mother, Bud Jamison as The Husband's Buddy, Charles Thurston as The Judge

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

New Movies

Wind River Movie Review

Wind River Movie Review

After writing the superb Sicario and Hell or High Water, Taylor Sheridan moves back into...

The Vault Movie Review

The Vault Movie Review

Filmmakers Dan Bush and Conal Byrne attempt a mash-up of a frantic heist movie with...

Goon: Last of the Enforcers Movie Review

Goon: Last of the Enforcers Movie Review

The 2012 Canadian comedy Goon was one of those surprising little films that snuck up...

Detroit Movie Review

Detroit Movie Review

After The Hurt Locker and Zero Dark Thirty, Kathryn Bigelow and Mark Boal reteam to...

Logan Lucky Movie Review

Logan Lucky Movie Review

Good news: Steven Soderbergh's well-publicised retirement from directing only lasted about four years. He's back...

American Made Movie Review

American Made Movie Review

An enjoyably freewheeling tone and Tom Cruise's star wattage combine to make this an entertaining...

An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power Movie Review

An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power Movie Review

It's been a decade since Al Gore's wake-up-call documentary won the Oscar. And here he...

Advertisement
The Hitman's Bodyguard Movie Review

The Hitman's Bodyguard Movie Review

It really doesn't matter that this movie is utterly ridiculous, because the central pairing of...

Final Portrait Movie Review

Final Portrait Movie Review

A relaxed, amusing true story about noted Swiss painter and sculptor Alberto Giacometti, this sharply...

Tom of Finland Movie Review

Tom of Finland Movie Review

Finnish artist Tuoko Laaksonen used the name "Tom of Finland" as he drew explicit illustrations...

A Ghost Story Movie Review

A Ghost Story Movie Review

Filmmaker David Lowery reunites the stars from his offbeat Western Ain't Them Bodies Saints for...

Atomic Blonde Movie Review

Atomic Blonde Movie Review

From the co-director of John Wick, this similarly styled action romp puts Charlize Theron front...

Girls Trip Movie Review

Girls Trip Movie Review

This movie's premise basically sounds like The Hangover with added black girl power. But it's...

Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie Movie Review

Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie Movie Review

There's so much manic energy in this animated action comedy that it can't help but...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.