19 jul. 2012

My Review: The Chaser (6/10)

¨I killed them.¨

After reading several blogs about the best Korean films I decided to watch Hong-jin Na`s film, The Chaser. Korea is making some great films in this decade, but I wouldn`t consider The Chaser to be among their best. I had some issues with this movie, although it still left me with some great impressions. My favorite thriller of all time is Seven, and this film had a feeling similar to it, especially with the dark setting. It is a different kind of thriller because in the first 20 minutes the protagonist has already managed to catch the serial killer. The thrills come once the serial killer is interrogated by the police officers who show their complete ineptness to solve the case even when the killer has admitted his crimes. The problem is that the police officers aren`t able to find the bodies and have no evidence other than his testimony to accuse him in trial. They have only 12 hours to discover the whereabouts of the bodies before they have to set him free. Why isn`t his testimony enough? Because the killer is acting like a lunatic who doesn’t know what he`s saying. The thriller almost turns into a comedy after watching the complete ineptness of the police officials. That is where the film lost me a little bit, because it goes a little too far with this issue that Hong-jin Na is trying to point out: Korean officials are completely inept and incapable of solving a crime that has been placed right before their eyes. The crime seems like a simple one to solve, there are leads they can follow all over the place, but they keep on screwing up and get nowhere. I did however like the twist near the end of the film that you would probably never see in a Hollywood film because it`s just way too dark.

Joong-ho (Yun-seok Kim) is a pimp who is worried about his business because some of his work girls have disappeared. He believes that they`ve left him, but what he doesn’t know is that there is a serial killer who has been killing them off one by one. After realizing that his last girl left the cell phone in his car, he begins to believe that someone is kidnapping his girls and selling them abroad. He goes back and retraces the number of the person who solicited the girls when they last disappeared and realizes they all come from the same number. When the serial killer, Young-min (Jung-woo Ha), calls again he sends another girl and orders her to give him the man`s address once she arrives at his place. Why? Because the killer always asks the girls to pick him up at a random location and then has them drive him to his place. The problem is that when Mi-jin Kim (Yeong-hie Seo) arrives at Young-min`s house there is no signal and she can’t send the message. The pimp doesn’t know the exact address of the house, but he knows the whereabouts because that is where the last girl had left his car and he finds Mi-jin`s vehicle there too. Young-min kills his victims by hammering some sort of stake to their head and barely hits Mi-jin with it before he is interrupted by a couple who are searching for the owner of the house. This is where we realize that Young-min has been operating from someone else`s home and has to kill the visitors as well. Before burying the victims, Young-min decides to get rid of their vehicle and that is when he crashes into Joong-ho`s vehicle and he discovers that he`s the man he`s looking for. Joong-ho beats him up and the police officers intervene and that is where the search for the bodies begins.

Some of the problems I had with the plot beside the fact that the ineptness of the police officers was greatly exaggerated (but I guess that the director succeeded in trying to point this out) was that there were too many bad decisions made by Joong-ho and too many coincidences. First of all he lets the girl go to this man`s place without following them, then he accidently crashes into his vehicle (a great coincidence here), then he goes around driving everywhere in the car that should`ve been in the police`s hands after the accident. That car should`ve been their most important lead, trying to figure out who it belonged to and what Young-min was doing with it. The only person who investigates this is Joong-ho and he isn’t thorough enough. Then near the end of the film there are several plot holes as well but I don’t want to spoil anything for the viewers. Everything I`ve discussed before happens in the first twenty minutes of the film. There are just too many coincidences that take place and they felt really forced at times. The thriller does work however as a dark and violent one, and it leaves you haunted by some of the things that happen. Some of the images stay with you long after the credits begin to roll. I did enjoy this thriller, I just don`t think it is amongst the best Korean films considering there are so many great ones.

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