Chugyeogja the Chaser (2008) – (Thriller, Crime, Horror, Drama, 2008) (18) D: Hong-jin Na W: Won-Chan Hong, Shinho Lee P: Sujin Kim, In-Boem Yoon C: Yun-soek Kim, Jung-woo Ha, Yeong-hie Seo. 2h 5m. South Korea.
I have had a long adoration of South Korean cinema and as much as I had seen this title floating around in recommendations and trailers sent to me it took AGES for me to get around to it but eventually I got my head out of my ass and I was blown away. This is an incredibly stylish serial killer film with a gruesome and intriguing plot.
Eom Joong-ho (Kim Yoon-seok) is a dodgy ex detective turned pimp but he’s experiencing some financial problems and two of his girls have gone missing, after sending, Mi-jin (Seo Young-hee), one of his remaining girls out to a customer and losing track of her, he realises that it’s to the same address that a missing girl was sent too. He goes in search for Mi-jin asking for backup help from the force but they are all busy protecting the mayor who has recently been attacked and are making their presence known as the humiliation is too much to bear.
In the meantime Mi-Jin comes around in the bathroom of her client Je Yeong-min (Ha Jung-woo). He calmly explains to her that the last girl had her tongue cut out for screaming too much but is interrupted by some neighbours who have popped over looking for the owner, Mr Park, but Je Yeong-min invites them in then quietly butchers them. While ditching the old couples car, he collides with Joong ho, who realises there is something up with this “character”. He arrests him after he tries to flee, beats him up a little and takes him in. Yeong-min admits to killing 9 people. Joong-ho discovers he was previously arrested for trying to give his nephew a lobotomy, he also visits Mi-jin’s apartment for evidence and discovers her young daughter is there, he takes the girl and gets serious about tracking down Yeong-min and getting to the bottom of this psycho’s action and things get bloody.
Everything about this film is slick, thrilling, taunt and stylish. I really can’t praise it enough, the engrossing and rolling plot keeps coughing up more credible twists and turns, literally until the very end. The killer role, acted by Yeong-min (Ha Jung-woo) is executed perfectly, unlike the bold flashy psycho in Killers (キラーズ, “Kirazu”) (2014) there is a total opposite change and instead the bizarre character conjured up; reminds me of the guy with the snakes from Prisoners (2013) like a scared man child. At times he just doesn’t seem the killing type, he’s so meek and not able to hurt a fly, but when he does lash out it’s cold, calculated and controlled, which makes him beyond scary. The film gets bloodier as it progresses and the characters actually reveal depth including the most unlikely hero, all of Joong-ho (Kim Yoon-seok) who comes across as being an uncaring brute but he does have a heart and it’s a powerful catalyst for him and the movie, the pace quickens on foot and some of the street chases are vivid and the altercations are fast and incredibly violent, as with a lot of South Korean films there’s a plethora of deadly hand weapons, buckets of blood , crooked cops and little concern for human safety, especially women, they really are bottom of the food chain here.
Despite the blood and guts there’s still a gripping story, and the mystery is sound and providing you can stomach such things you won’t be disappointed.
Rating – 9/10
R: Bittersweet life (2005), Memories of Murder (2003), Tell me Something (1999), the Man From Nowhere (2010), I Saw the Devil (2010), Yellow Sea (2010)
L: South Korean Films, Serial Killer films.