Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Film Review: The Chaser (2009)

The Chaser (Review)
South Korea/2009
Netflix Streaming: Yes
Amazon Prime: No

Eom Joong-ho is an ex-detective turned pimp. After two of his women go missing, Joong-ho begins to suspect his women are being abducted and sold. Joong-ho, currently in a financial crisis, sends Mi-Jin, one of his remaining women, to a customer, Je Yeong-min. Eventually, he realizes Yeong-min may be responsible for the disappearances...

After Joong-ho realizes Yeong-min may be abducting his women, he tries to warn and locate Mi-Jin. However, at Yeong-min's home, the phone signal is nonexistent, consequently leaving Mi-jin trapped. Yeong-min is disrupted by a couple from the local church searching for the home's owner; Yeong-min handles the situation and begins to dispose their vehicle. Unfortunately, his escape is stopped after he crashes into Joong-ho's vehicle. Joong-ho, suspicious of Yeong-min's behavior, calls the customers phone number and subsequently identifies him as the abductor. A barrage of intense chases, brutal beatings, and investigation follows.

The story in this film is superb; it is simple yet captivating. As previously mentioned, the story blends chases, fights, and investigations into a chaotic situation. The foot pursuits are exciting and intense, the fights are brutal and realistic, and the investigations and interviews are equally intense. There are twists around every corner as Yeong-min manipulates and teases the police, sending them in circles like a dog chasing his tail. The film also breaks away from the formulaic film formula we've seen hundreds of times, expect the unexpected. It has a dark, gritty atmosphere/vibe from beginning to end.

The acting is fantastic from both leads. Kim Yoon-seok plays the cop-turned-pimp; he's usually a sleazy pimp, but manages to deliver different emotions as his character evolves. Ha Jung-woo plays Yeong-min; he plays that cowardly character, the character that gets tough when he has the advantage, the manipulative, evil, cold-hearted character that we love to hate - and he plays it superbly. The music is fantastic in this film, being simplistic yet effective. The makeup is also great, really adds to the realism of the film.

Overall, The Chaser is a magnificent thriller - a gripping, insanely suspenseful film from beginning to end. A dark, gritty, must-watch gem from South Korea. I highly recommend a purchase.

Score: 10/10
Parental Guide: Strong violence and gore, brief nudity.

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