In a calm and peaceful mountain village Sameri where has been no crime for years, a community headman dreams about bringing an economic success to the town with a weekend-farm business. One day, a terrible damaged dead body is discovered in the grove by the village, and the whole town sinks in the chaos by this shocking tumult it never experienced before. The dead body turns out to be the granddaughter of CHUN Il-man, a former gunner who runs an old gun shop. After investigation police says she was murdered, but CHUN digs into the case by himself and claims she was attacked to death by the cannibal boar Chaw. Voices are being raised that the weekend-farm must be shut down, but the town leaders, blind with the greed for money, keep pushing the business ahead. In a few days Chaw appears again to attack tourist as CHUN predicted and Sameri turns to the most dreadful and dangerous village in the whole country from the once heavenly place on earth.
The Korean cinema industry has been getting pretty creative in recent years which explain their increasing popularity with local and international audience. Besides churning out the usual dosage of romance comedy, horror thrillers and crime dramas, they have also shown their adept hand at the monster genre with Bong Joo-Hoo’s The Host and the ridiculously B-grade, D-War on top of the list.
For a country that considered boar meat as delicacy, this is no doubt the perfect theme to play on humans’ fears. In director Shin Jung-won’s Chaw, a giant cannibalistic wild boar is on the loose in a quiet village. A hunter followed by a young lady and a tourist is brutally killed. As per what any monster movies go, a few brave men are then assembled to fight against the killer. A simple premise that took quite a while to setup as Shin has a wild time introducing the few main leads to the audience starting with an ex-city cop, a detective, the old ex-hunter whose granddaughter was killed by the monster, a hotshot hunter and lastly an ambitious research staff who is bent on capturing the killer on video. Five different personals with their own agenda and motive though with the same goal – to capture the killer wild boar.
Chaw does not boast any major familiar faces but all the actors and actresses are rightly cast for their respective roles. Eom Tae-woong is perfect as the bumbling yet enthusiastic city cop and Moon Yoon-jae shines as the once apprentice of the aged hunter. This is one classic example whereby a certain amount of chemistry and energy are contributed significantly by a bunch of relatively unknown actors.
Whereas Hollywood would have gone for some scientific mumbo-jumbo and a convenient explosive finale to wrap up the movie, Chaw is not exactly your typical monster movie. Filled with Shin’s dark sense of humour, he goes a step further in concocting the plot and populate it with dozens of weirdoes that popped in and out of the movie take for example a crazy woman with a kid, a cowardly police captain and subordinate that at some point, you are left wondering where the movie is heading. But don’t let these deter you as the wild boar will return to knock you out of your seats especially the rampage on the town folks and a seemingly homage to the chase sequence in Jurassic Park: The Lost World.
On the whole the production values are almost flawless; the production crew did a great job balancing the shooting location which in actual fact, alternates between Korea and the forestry parts of San Francisco. The combination of visual effects handled by U.S. Polygon Entertainment (who did Haeundae as well) and animatronics were needed to bring the gigantic creature to live. Unfortunately, the man-eating boar looks a tad unbelievable due to the obvious CG limitations which explain why the creature only appears mostly at night or dark corners. Just beware especially for the faint-hearted; some of the gore factor might be a bit hard to stomach thus you might wish to skip the pork before the movie.
Are men more terrifying as compare to animals by nature or is it men the ones who caused the gradual disintegration of the animal kingdom and the environment? Perhaps this is what Shin is trying to convey if you look deeper into Chaw. Ignoring all the supposedly subtext, Chaw is definitely one huge piggy that you can hitch a ride on. This comes highly recommended for all the wondrous blending of monster thrills and bizarre humour.
This Code 3 DVD contains only the trailer
There are no serious visual flaws with this DVD transfer but the frequent darkly-lit night scenes might get a while to use to. The Dolby Digital 5.1 is a great help when it comes to sound of crunching bones, grunting and screaming although dialogue constitute a major portion of the movie.
Review by Linus Tee
Posted on 18 January 2010