Classic Intel: The Chaser - DVD Review

'blends the understanding of genre seen in Memories Of Murder, with the grimly dark absurdist humour of The Host and the anti-heroic humanity of Oldboy'

Hong-jin Na's remarkable The Chaser shows off all that is great about South Korean cinema, blending the understanding of genre seen in Memories Of Murder, with the grimly dark absurdist humour of The Host and the anti-heroic humanity of Oldboy. That those films can even be referenced is one thing, but there's something else too: The Chaser can stand up to all of those and may even be better than a couple of them.

As with Memories Of Murder, The Chaser takes what looks like a very simple Cop Thriller and then layers it not only with entertainment but with all of the above elements. The moral quandaries, which come thick and fast both within and outside of the film, begin from the off when we are introduced to our 'hero' (Yun-seok Kim), who turns out to be a belligerent ex-Cop who has turned himself into a small time pimp. There's perhaps a hint at his humanity early on, when he goes to rescue a girl from a violent client, but there's also more than a hint that he sees his charges as purely business assets. As far as noble protagonists go, Joong-ho is no role model.

He is however, at least better than Young-min Jee (Jung-woo Ha), the type of preppy on-screen killer Elijah Wood has played a handful of times now. Hong-jin not only has the confidence in his film to reveal Young-min as the killer straight away, he then revels in it, crafting a perfect end to the first act as the killer's capture is complicated by, of all things, a man throwing excrement at Seoul's mayor. As the two threads collide and Joong-ho is dragged into having further involvement in the narrative than just finding his girls, The Chaser speeds up rather than slowing down, delighting in the fact that it can share most of its secrets with you and still have something left in the tank.

The grimness escalates as Joong-ho continues the search for Mi-jin (Yeong-hie Seo) and Hong-jin resolutely rejects following Hollywood convention. It's not happy, but somehow it is still satisfying, though 2008 is far too late for a film to be relying on an 'out of signal' mobile phone to drive the plot.





By Sam Turner. Sam is editor of Film Intel, and can usually be found behind a keyboard with a cup of tea. He likes entertaining films and dislikes the other kind. He's on , Twitter and several places even he doesn't yet know about.

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