Review: THE CHASER 추격자 (2008) | Casey's Movie Mania | Movie Reviews, Features & Others

Tuesday, 27 April 2010

Review: THE CHASER 추격자 (2008)

Review: THE CHASER 추격자 (2008)

THE CHASER revolves around a former Task Force cop-turned-pimp Jung-Ho (Kim Yun-Seok), who is about to have a very bad day in his life. He is particularly frustrated about a number of his call girls have gone missing in recent weeks and he's been strapped for cash. So he calls in one of his girls, Min-Jin (Seo Yeong-Hie) and demands her to service regular client Young-Min (Ha Jung-Woo). Though Min-Jin confesses she is sick and unable to do her duty, she knows she has no choice but to obey anyway. Then later that same night, Min-Jin meets up Young-Min in a housing Mangwon district. On the other side, Jung-Ho begins to suspect that his missing girls may have been all related to Young-Min. At first, he figures Young-Min is most probably stealing his girls for business sake but little he knows that Young-Min is a whacked-out psycho after all. Unbeknownst to Min-Jin, she becomes the latest victim of sexual assault and violence by Young-Min, who takes pleasure on torturing women because he is happened to be impotent. But before Young-Min can finish the job, he gets distracted by a call from someone outside. In a series of coincidental and pitch-black events, Young-Min is somehow run into Jung-Ho in a car accident, which then quickly leads to a foot chase. Jung-Ho manages to catch up on Young-Min and beats him up for good until both of them get arrested. Once at the police station, Young-Min has surprisingly admitted to his gruesome crimes but even so, the lack of evidence obviously isn't enough to press charges against him. Now here lies the real drama: Jung-Min has a matter of few hours left to find the missing Min-Jin, with the help of his bumbling sidekick, Meathead (Koo Bon-Woong) before Young-Min will be eventually set free for no solid evidence.

With the year of 2007 already overcrowded with psychological thrillers (OUR TOWN, SEVEN DAYS, RAINBOW EYES, BLACK HOUSE), you can say that by now, films about a serial killer has become a clichéd norm. But not so for Na Hong-Jin's feature debut, THE CHASER which is surprisingly tapped as one of the highly-anticipated South Korean movies in the still-early year of 2008. The early buzz is so overwhelming that the film simply took the box-office by storm upon its theatrical release on Feb 14 and packed South Korean cinemas for three consecutive months. Not only that, the movie has become phenomenally popular outside the native country as well and Warner Bros. has already bought the rights for an upcoming Hollywood remake.

Aside from the refreshing novelty centres on an unlikely lead protagonist, which happens to be a former cop-turned-pimp, you'll wonder is this kind of person really worth rooting for? The answer is surprising yes.

And thanks to Kim Yun-Seok's tour de force performance, he makes in what would be generally unlikable character into a commandingly energetic role that gives Jung-Ho a surprisingly human conscience without softening the rough nature of his job. In the meantime, Ha Jung-Woo is strikingly nuanced as a calm and collective serial killer who is especially creepy with his chillingly blank expression.

The rest of the supporting cast are equally credible, while newcomer Na Hong-Jin should be given the most credit for such an accomplished debut feature that could have been done by a seasoned pro. He clearly understands the nature of what makes a thriller really tick. Pulsing with a breathless pace from start till the end, the movie delivers a number of sheer tension and captivating moral dilemma with such muscular energy that no doubt it will keep you on the edge of the seat. 

Still, the final third act is somewhat an overstretched credibility that should have ended earlier, while there's no doubt the movie also feels a bit overlong demands for some serious trimming.

Overall, this is one of the best South Korean thrillers ever made in recent years.

Na Hong-Jin's impressive, if flawed directorial debut in THE CHASER is a taut yet energetic thriller with top-notch acting all around including Kim Yun-Seok and Ha Jung-Woo.

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