Thursday, 9 February 2012

The Chaser

The Chaser is yet another fantastic thriller from Korea, the country that bought us Oldboy and Thirst. Joong-ho is an ex-cop turned pimp who is getting pissed off that his girls keep running away. What he doesn’t know is that they are in all being murdered by the same man, Young-min, played by Jung-woo Ha. After another of his girls gets into trouble, Joong-ho sets about chasing down Young-min. He is thwarted in his attempts by bad policing and also has the added worry of caring for the missing prostitute’s young child.

The film is very stylish which should not come as a surprise given that Korea is known for making some of the most visually arresting cinema anywhere in the world. What else should come as no surprise is the violence. A couple of scenes are quite disturbing and although they don’t show as much as you think they do, they are difficult to watch. The Mangwon district of Seoul in which the film is set feels like a maze and adds to the tension of the search. You feel for the characters as they have a near impossible task.

The acting is great. Jeoung-woo Ha is every inch the crazed killer. He seems innocent and almost childlike for much of the film but is capable of turning on his dark and destructive side. Yoon-seok Kim is also excellent as Joong-ho. He starts out as quite unlikeable but his character transformation is impressive. His anguish and desperation regarding the circumstances are apparent. The little girl who plays the missing woman’s daughter is also very good, especially for someone so young in this type of film.

The film has a couple of plot holes as most thrillers do. For some reason the police release the killer despite a confession of twelve murders. Maybe this is down to some sort of Korean law I don’t know about but it was a bit odd. Other than that, The Chaser is an excellent crime/thriller which will have you on the edge of your seat for two hours.


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