Korean blockbuster The Chaser hit the screens in Hong Kong recently but seems to have failed to garner interest on the level of Park Chan-wook’s Old Boy. A big winner at the 45th Daejong Awards, The Chaser took home the Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Actor awards earlier this year. It also made a decent impact when screened at Cannes this year, and a Hollywood remake is already in progress.
The Chaser’s premise is quite straight-forward : a call girl is missing and her pimp is out looking for her. The pimp used to be a cop and he finds and catches the psychotic man who has killed a couple of his girls. This happens pretty much in the first third of the film; the remaining time is spent trying to find where the criminal has locked up the call girl as she may still be alive. On one hand, our protagonist pimp is trying to save the call girl, and on the other hand, the policemen struggle to find enough solid evidence to put the serial killer behind bars for good.
The Chaser’s so-called originality is in its focus on finding the victim and not on catching the killer and explaining his psychology (though there are one or two brief scenes about this). The film is director Na Hong-jin’s debut and it lacks the strong visual pizzazz. of his compatriot Park Chan-wook’s works. The only scene that stuck in my mind was the brutal fate of the call girl.
Reception of the film in the west has been mixed so far. Some critics don’t see what the fuss is all about while others praise the film as a refreshing take of a tired genre. Personally, I found the 120+ minute film enjoyable and it is a solid film if stylistically unsophisticated (which I think works in its favour).
Recommended for fans of serial killers and Korean blockbusters.