Amazing script, great direction, two opponents that give a true acting recital, a little girl who steals the show at times, action, comedy, drama, agony and everything one could ask from a crime thriller can be found in “The Chaser”. Evidently, the film deserved both the awards it netted and the its ticket revenue.
Eom Joong-ho is an ex-cop who currently operates a prostitution ring. Recently, some of his “girls” have mysteriously disappeared, while they still owe him money, putting him in a difficult financial position. Due to the lack of girls, he is forced to send the sick Mi-jin to a customer, despite her strong objections and her having to leave her little daughter alone.
However, a little later, he realizes the other two girls that disappeared had a “date” with the same customer, named Je Yeong-min. Assuming the particular individual resells the girls, she orders Mi-jin to inform him of the place they will meet. However, the things she discovers when she arrives there is much more dangerous than what Joong-ho could ever conceive.
Na Hong-jin gave a clear sample of his quality as a filmmaker with his debut film, artfully directing and writing this utterly agonizing thriller, which is based on an actual case of a serial killer. He directs in a way, presenting just as many indications of what is about to come as is needed to keep the spectator tense in all of the title’s duration. He accomplishes that by making clear from the beginning what the protagonists should do in order to solve the case, though presenting very convincing reasons why they do not.He has also done a wonderful job in the character’s outline, whose antithesis is depicted on the axis of conscience. There is a total lack of it from the murderer’s part and a gradual disclosure of it on the hunter’s side. As usually in similar Korean productions, the film entails many violent episodes, that, at times, may even be shocking to mainstream audience, despite the elaborateness of their depiction. Lastly, the finale is probably the film’s best scene and one of the most shattering ever to appear in the genre.
Kim Yoon-seok is magnificent as the anti-hero Eom Joong-ho, with his biggest achievement being that he succeeds in emitting true humanity from a character who initially seems utterly despicable.The performance by Ha Jung-woo as Je Yeong-min is at least equal, as he portrays a bloodthirsty, impenitent psychopath in one of the best and most chilling renditions of an evil character. The chemistry between them as they clash, is one of the film’s strongest aspects.
The cinematography and editing are also points of excellence, portraying the cruel circumstances of torture in the scenes featuring Yeong-min and the growing tension and agony in the ones featuring Joong-ho.
“The Chaser” is one of the greatest samples of contemporary Korean cinema and one of the best entries in the crime thriller genre.