The Chaser (2008, aka Chugyeogja)

Synopsis:

A disgraced former police detective (Yun-seok Kim, Tazza: The High Rollers) starts a second career as a pimp. Business is booming until his “working girls” begin vanishing without a trace. When the pimp realizes a serial killer (Jung-woo Ha, The Terror Live) is behind the mysterious disappearances, he decides to track down the psychopath.

Reaction & Thoughts:

Hong-jin Na’s breathtaking thriller The Chaser (aka Chugyeogja) can be compared favorably with The Silence of the Lambs and Seven. Believe it or not, the screenplay by Hong-jin Na, Shinho Lee and Won-Chan Hong is based on a true story. Yes, in this case, as the old saying goes: “truth is stranger than fiction.”

Director Hong-jin Na (making his screen début) and his team milk the concept of a sleazy movie hero hunting down a sadistic psychopath for all it’s worth. This isn’t a “good-versus-evil” showdown, this is a “bad-versus-badder” face-off!

There are many moments of ugly violence in the movie that will linger in the mind of the viewer. The snap shots of grotesque terror aren’t gratuitous, though. Hong-jin Na uses these repulsive images to illustrate that when local law enforcement agencies are in disarray, the quality of life plummets — it’s an interesting theory.

 A bouquet of black roses goes to Yun-seok Kim for giving an extraordinarily effective performance as the cop-turned-pimp — it’s a fascinating noir anti-hero. Jung-woo Ha is a great adversary. The cat-and-mouse game between the two leading characters is compelling and engaging. The supporting cast is really good too.

Conclusions & Final Thoughts:

The Chaser is a gritty suspenser with an interesting social commentary, not for the squeamish. Highly recommended! Color, 125 minutes, Rated R.

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