We have decided to open our “Movie Recco” posts for our readers and movie buffs. There is a great joy in discovering a gem – one that is obscure, not mainstream, and none of your friends have heard about. You watch it and then want to shout out from the roof-top and tell everyone to catch it soon. Though The Chaser doesn’t strictly fit into that category but it surely deserves a recco. A kickass debut by Na Hong-jin. This recco is by Gyandeep Pattnayak. If you want to contribute “Movie Recco” posts, do write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org
There must have been times when you wanted nothing more than to yank the head of the villain of a movie and bang it hard on a concrete surface, watch the blood spurt out, feel it on your hands and love it even more.
Hong-Jin Na’s Chugyeogja (The Chaser) is exactly that type of a film. It gets to you in a way most thrillers don’t. You often sit through a movie and see it, just for the heck of it. Few films (The Chaser included) have the power to extract an extreme reaction out of you. Speaking from my perspective, by the time this movie ended, my left jaw was in a terrible pain after having clenched my teeth hard for a while.
Without saying an awful lot about the story, let me just say that it involves an ex-cop-turned-pimp Joong-Ho trying to track down one of his call-girls Mi-Jin. It seems as if she has been kidnapped because a few others have mysteriously disappeared and haven’t shown up as well. Soon enough, a serial killer is on the run, with Joong-Ho in his pursuit. In relentless pursuit because there is some hope that the girl might still be alive.
It is spectacular in the sense that this movie is shot on real locations — the rain soaked alleys, the crowded marketplace, those dark and dingy rooms — you can almost smell them. The director uses violence liberally but only in a manner that is relevant to the whole story. It sounds clichéd — the whole violence-needed-for-the-story stuff. But, this is a thriller. A serial killer movie. A brutally effective one. One that was made with every intention of entertaining the audience. One that, as it turns out eventually, doesn’t end conventionally. Hell, it never once takes the trodden path. You see, chase sequences are now a must-have in most thrillers. This movie has one too. But one that rivals the very best chase sequences in films such as the Bourne Series. This very scene leaves you white-knuckled and gasping for breath.
Also interesting is the fact how director Hong-Jin separates the storyline into three equal perspectives – one of the ex-cop, one of the call girl and one of the killer. And we, as the audience are equally involved in each of their stories, never once feeling the shift from one segment to another.
Arguably, this movie might not be better than Oldboy but when it wants to be, The Chaser is pretty explosive stuff. Here’s a thriller that re-instates the faith that the darkness of a thriller is always to overwhelm you. Not to leave you satisfied but to make you feel, to make you loathe, to make your face turn away only to check back again to see if everything is alright.