The Chaser

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2008

Directed by Hong-Jin Na – Written by Shinho Lee, Hong-Jin Na and Won-Chan Hong

Starring: Yun-Seok Kim, Jung-Woo Ha, Yeong-Hie Seo and Yoo-Jeong Kim

The Chaser (2008) is a South Korean debut by Na Hong-Jin. It follows the tale of a dirty cop (Kim Yoon-Seok) turned pimp who’s girls keep going missing. Within 50 minutes he finds the culprit (Ha Jung-Woo), but only has 12 hours to prove that he is guilty.

If some of you have been paying attention you may have noticed a rise in Asian cinema over the last few years. Most of you would probably quote Oldboy (2003) as the film you have seen. If some of you have been digging a bit further you will have found a gold mine of South Korean films worth watching, and The Chaser is one.

The last time I saw a film that made me uneasy like The Chaser was probably a French film called Martyrs (2008), which bombards you with graphic imagery and torture. The Chaser succeeds Martyrs by making the characters truly terrifying. Kim Yoon-Seok who has no care for the people around him unless it makes him a profit, Ha Jung-Woo and the discovery of what a normal person is capable of and the incompetence of the police force (which I think is always just a little bit scary).

Where this film really succeeds over most western police thrillers is its bleak outlook. Most Western films will end with a nice happy ending where the bad Guy gets captured and all is well. DO NOT EXPECT THE CHASER TO DO THIS! It will end, but in a way I think is more suitable and believable for the audience. What sells the film is Kim Yoon-Seok’s character and the journey he takes. I found him quite funny at the start with his cruelty and how he dealt with unruly customers, but as the film drew on I found myself rooting for him all the way to the end. To finish what he and I had started together.

If there is one drawback to this film it is its pacing. It starts very fast and action packed, the chase scene being particularly amazing. But after that the film does lull in pace becoming a mystery with no clues. Although if you stick with it you will be shown an action packed film with turns that you could never expect.

Before I finish there is one more thing, this film is being remade by the team that did The Departed. Now I know the Departed is very good, but I beg you. Watch the original first you will be so much better for it and when you watch the remake you will be glad you did. As the film is a force that will get to the bottom of your stomach and then come right back up (not literally, hopefully).

9/10

James McLintock

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