Director: Na Hong-jin
Cast: Kim Yoon-seok, Ha Jeong-woo, Seo Yeong-hee,
Koo Bon-woong, Jeong In-gi
2 hrs 3 mins
Released By: Shaw & InnoForm Media
Opening Day: 25 September 2008
Ex-detective pimp Jung-ho is angry because his girls keep
disappearing without clearing their debts. One night, he gets
a call from a customer and sends Mi-jin. But when Mi-jin meets
the customer matches that of the calls the missing girls got
last. As something smells fishy, he searches for her. During
his search, Jung-ho dents a car in the alley. When Jung-ho
spots blood splattered on the driver’s shirt, he sense
the man, Young-min, is the suspect. After an intense pretense
as a cop, they are both taken to the police station. At the
station, he bluntly tells the policemen that he has killed
the missing women, and the last girl, Mi-jin may still be
alive. As the Police force is obsessed with a random search
for corpses, Jung-ho is the only one who believes Mi-jin is
still alive. With only 12 hours left to detain the serial
killer without a warrant, Jung-ho’s hunt begins.
Let’s get the accolades out of the way first.
directorial debut for young director Na Hong-Jin, racked up
six awards (including Best Picture, Director, Cinematography,
Production and Actor for Kim Yoon-Seok) recently in the 45th
Daejong (Grand Bell) film festival (that’s the biggest
event in the Korean film industry if you are not aware of).
This mid budget sleeper hit has earned more than $20 million
in it’s 20 days release and the director was of “The
Chaser” was one of the candidates for the recent Camera
d'Or (The Golden Camera Award). The “remakes”
giant of the west (Hollywood) is already eyeing to do an American
version with Leonardo DiCaprio in one of the starring role.
made this serial killer flick so special from the rest of
it’s the dynamic of duality in the show that is so captivating.
On one hand, it demonstrates the detective working of one
that is not bounded by the law and another group that is being
tied down by bureaucratic formalities. On the other hand,
The Chaser took it’s time to strip the various characteristic
layers of it’s two main character and shows the power
shift between the serial killer, Young-min (Ha Jeong-woo)
and the ex cop, Jung-ho (Kim Yoon Seok).
Chaser was very direct with the police’s fumbling workings
ethics and exemplifies it against the solo detective work
of an ex cop. It shows how red tapes could mess up an obvious
situation and how sometimes; it requires some unorthodox methods
to get the job done. As the story progresses, it gets infuriating
to see the good detective works that get ignored and the serial
killer that mocking at the inefficient authorities who were
more concern in covering their own backside than saving lives.
It gets emotionally engaging as this sort of bureaucrat bullshit
is easily relatable in our daily lives (ie unless you work
in a politically free environment).
the contrast between one man operation and a cluster of screw
up, another highlight of the film was how it revealed the
different characteristic aspect of the two leads. Jung-Ho,
the ex cop turned pimp who was more concern about the monetary
loss due to his missing prostitutes than their whereabouts,
shows how even the filth scrums of society could be compassionate
in the times of need. On the other hand, the serial killer,
Young-min who was frighteningly indifferent to his acts of
atrocities throughout, took an unexpected stumble during a
questioning session. The charm here is that the movie never
really revealed the rational behind the killing but gave enough
hints to leave with a disturbing thought of what a twisted
mind is capable of.
was also intriguing to observe the power shift between these
two characters. As the chase gets closer to an end, we get
to see the ex cop who was in control of the situation becoming
frantically worried, resorting to brutality to resolve the
matter. Meanwhile the serial killer who get caught in the
most uncharacteristic manner and seemly helpless in the locked
up situation, actually had an ace under his sleeve to get
out of the mess.
duality of all the above elements and characters came crashing
with each other, it will engage (and disgust) the audience
to a climatic finale. It might not appeal to some as it takes
quite some time to build the respective characters and events
up. There is also certain degree of coincidence that some
might find a bit hard to swallow. But in my books, The Chaser
is well constructed and has fine performance from the main
actors to the supporting cast that I believe will keep fans
of serial killer movies on the edge of their seats.
The Chaser is loosely based on actual Korean serial killer,
Yoo Young Cheo and if you are interested to read more about
the account of those actual murders, click on the link below:
(Grittily well made – One of the finest serial
killer movie from Korea)
Review by Richard Lim Jr