So after i watched (and wrote) about The Gifted Hands, my friend N decided that i need to watch real flicks that fullfil the golden standard South Korean cinema. She immediately recommend a thriller called The Chaser, which was also said to be Christopher Nolan’s favorite Korean flick. So yeah, I’m sold…
The Chaser (Korean: 추격자 Chugyeogja) is a 2008 South Korean action, mystery thriller which was a directorial debut of Na Hong-Jin. The film inspired by and loosely based on a Korean serial Killer Yoo Young-Chul, even set in the same location, where the killer was did his killing spree, Mapo-gu district, Seoul.
Eom Joong-Ho (Kim Yoon-Seok) is a retired detective (probably dishonorably discharged) turned into pimp was agitated by some of his prostitute has gone missing. When another one of his girl, Kim Mi-Jin (Seo Young-Hee) was gone to a costumer who he suspected had kidnapped his girls and sold them, he choose to take matters into his own hand. Following the last info he got from Mi-Jin he was lead to Mangwoon area in Mapo-gu district in Seoul. In the dark night, amongst the narrow labyrinthine alley, he stumble upon a young man Je Yeong-Min (Ha Jung-Woo) who accidentaly dent his car. His old instinct seemed to take over and he chased the man and brought him to the police.
So the perpetrator got caught, end of story right? wrong! That part of the movie only lasted for the first third of the movie, the actual manhunt haven’t started yet. And just during the duration of one night and one day things grew even more sinister. Manhunt, broken system, race against the ticking clock. This is thriller in its purest form.
Holy crap batman! This is one fierce, fierce movie. During the course of the movie we were kept on the edge of our seat, not knowing what would happen to these characters as their, quite literally, race against the clock. Each character was perfectly casted, the broken hero, the insane serial killer, even the prostitute! Each character are more than two dimensional, each has their depths, each got their story. I like our broken hero, brilliantly acted by Yoon-Seok, with unexpected emotional growth. The cherry on top was of course Joong-Woo, menacing and disturbing as the notorious serial killer. His cold façade and disconcerted expressions reminds me of the characters of Urusawa Naoki’s manga.
I’ve noticed that, there were repeated themes occurring in The Chasers and in The Gifted Hands/Psychometry (2013), where distrust to the system that are obviously flawed and broken accompanied by corruption and malfeasance. Talking about Psychometry, one of the first thing that i’ve noticed is the poster of that film is very similar to The Chaser’s (which i cut into the title image in this post), while not an exact copy, there’s some uncanny resemblance there. Is it a copycat or just another coincidental mimetic idea?
Another thing i noticed about this film in particular is the type of raw violence exhibited in it. I’m not referring to the gory, bloody parts of the killings aftermaths. And this movie is made without flashy action sequence usually found in hollywood thrillers. I’m referring to the raw punches, non choreographed, sheer force of violence that scattered along the movie. My friend said it was expected from Korean Cinema, but that was almost too brutal for me, so i wont recommend this type of movie to those with a faint heart.
The movie brought us to a mind blowing twist in the end. Horribly unexpected conclusion but perfect to end such a gruesome story. It’s a great movie in a South Korean standard as well as International. I really have a newfound respects for South Korean cinema for the level of sophistication they brought through the story without the need of flash and gimmicks.
The Chaser, was a sleeper hit at first, but it has been critically and commercially successful in South Korea and in several international festival. In March 2008, Warner Bros has bought the right for a hollywood remake of the movie for US$ 1 million. William Monahan (The Departed) was in the initial negotiation to write the screenplay of the remake. While several directors has been scouted to direct this movie, the candidates include Ridley Scott, David Fincher, Christopher Nolan, and Martin Scorsese, among others. There were rumors that Leonardo DiCaprio and Matt Damon have been named as the potential stars, with Leonardo DiCaprio has expressed great interest in the project after he watched the movie (and i just gonna gobble up anything with Leonardo fuckin’ DiCaprio attached to it).