Na Hong-jin's THE CHASER
Movie review by Dennis D. McDonald
Following the success of Silence of the Lambs, movie and TV audiences have been treated to many pale imitations, most of which have failed to excite or provide any serious dramatic interest. Oddly enough, this plethora of product has made the concept of “serial killer” seem almost “old hat.”
This Korean serial killer thriller is a major exception. The “hero,” a pimp and former police detective, discovers that some of his girls are “missing.” He eventually discovers they are being abducted by a maniacal serial killer. He tries to involve the police but they don’t cooperate.
We, the audience, know what is going on; the police incompetence and just plain bad luck we see on screen, coupled with unrelenting violence and tightly-wound direction and editing, keeps us riveted from start to end. The violence is graphic, so don’t epect sugar coating. And also don’t expect that the humor introduced early on concerning police incompetence is meant as comedy relief; we see the consequences of politics and mistakes on graphic display here.
I found the subtitling to be excellent and had no difficulty following what was going on despite the occasionally convoluted nature of the plot. The pacing of the film is steady and events are well organized. This is a very intelligently done film.
I especially enjoyed how well the constant use of cellphones is portrayed. Cellphone use is constant throughout and the success or failure of voice and text messaging occasionally have significant plot impacts.
But be aware that, at least in the version I saw, the violence is quite graphic. Evil is on the loose here, as are anger and frustration. This is an adult film not intended for the faint of heart.
Review copyright 2010 by Dennis D. McDonald