Thursday, April 22, 2010

Chaser, The (2008)

Director: Na Hong-jin
Notable Cast: Kim Yoon-seok, Ha Jung-woo, Seo Young-hee, Koo Bon-woong, Kim Yoo-jung, Jung In-gi, Park Hyo-joo, Choi Jung-woo

Everything in the thriller genre has been done before by now. Not a whole lot of surprises when it comes to it. To make a great thriller, one has to look into the heart of the story and use vision and depth to create it. That's exactly what "The Chaser" does. Despite a fairly tried and true story, its subtle style of directing, amazing lead anti-hero character, and ability to suspend belief and tension above all else makes this a MUST SEE.

Joong-Ho is an ex-detective turned 'pimp' business man whom is about to have the worst few days of his life. His girls have been going missing lately and a clue leads him to find one that is on her way to meet a client who also happens to be a serial killer. It's a race against time to save his girl from the clutches of a madman that takes him threw hell and back and even allows him to finally seeing the sides of life that he never knew existed.

Expertly crafted, "The Chaser" is able to take a relatively simple story and draw it out for over 2 hours, most of which one will spend on the edge of their seat as we root for Joong-Ho to catch the disturbing and arrogant serial killer. Director, Na, uses a slick and very subtle use of style to make many moments far more memorable than they should have appeared in script (including but not limited to his use of silence to promote intensity without beating the viewer in the face with it) and the super realism of the film's action sequences and character reactions makes this film seem like it could have easily been a true event rather than just a film. When the first chase through the ally occurs between Joong-Ho and the killer it's seriously so intense and real that I found myself actually talking to the TV... telling the character to go this way or that. Which I don't know if I have ever done. It's that intense.

Of course, it helps that the acting from the cast is superb on almost every level. Our lead is both despicable in how he acts and completely relatable so that we root for him. Not only to become the hero that he tries so hard to be and never wants to be, but to just realize his faults. Even our villain comes across as so innocent and charming that its creepy to the point that you curse the police for not being able to pin him and bust his ass. Literally, he spends the majority of the film in police custody and never does the suspense lift. It's brilliant in its craftiness and in his portrayal of the killer. Everyone does a fantastic acting job from the little girl to the few moments our missing call girl is on screen.

"The Chaser" is one of the best thrillers ever made in my opinion and deserves all the praise it has received. I wish the film had been given a better US release than a Blockbuster exclusive as its a must see. Brilliant on every level and its guaranteed to keep a viewer thrilled and surprised all the way through the credits. See this film now. 

Written By Matt Reifschneider

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