Tuesday, 22 November 2011

The Chaser

Korean Poster.

As I said in my recent ramble, Na Hong-jin’s debut film The Chaser (2008) (which he part wrote) has been perceived as the start of a new generation of Korean thrillers. It stars the same two lead actors that Ha used in The Yellow Sea (2010). Kim Yun-seok is Eom Joong-ho a dishonest ex-detective who now runs a “massage service” and Ha Jeong-woo who portrays the creepy killer Je Yeong-min. When Eom’s girls start to disappear he suspects that one of the clients is selling the girls on. Sending one of his last remaining girls Mi-jin on a service call he realises that it’s the same client to whom all the missing girls have been sent. He decides to track down this punter but begins to suspect’s that the missing girls are the victim of a rather vicious serial killer. Believing Mi-jin to be alive he sets out on a desperate mission to find her before the killer applies the finishing touches to his brutal work. Getting little or no support from the police who are more interested in local politics after the Mayor of Seoul, supposedly under police protection, gets a load of human excreta thrown at him while on public duties.

The Chaser is loosely based on a Korean serial killer and self-confessed cannibal who ate the livers of some of his victims. Yoo Young-chul admitted to murdering 21 people with a 4lb hammer, mostly escort girls and wealthy old men in a period between September 2003 and July 2004. Arrested by the police he was sentenced to death in 2005. I believe he still awaits execution. 
Mi-jin is missing.

A exasperating watch that keeps you on the edge of your seat with our main protagonist taking one step forward and two steps backward in his attempts to save the life of Mi-jin. Ha’s film is an example of how to make a thriller work and as good as it is, his latest film is even better. Certain aspects of The Chaser bring to mind two other must see Korean movies Bong Joon-ho's Memories of Murder (2003) and Park Chan-wook's Oldboy (2003).
The suspect is questioned.

Again American film studios are planning a remake, but the good news is that it will be the same team that produced the successful remake of the Hong Kong thriller’s Infernal Affairs, The Departed (2006) with Martin Scorsese at the helm again and if Drive (2011) is anything to go by then the yanks are more than capable at making a solid enjoyable thriller.
Eom Joong-ho searches for Mi-jin who he hopes is still alive.

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