I think there’s like a few archetypes for Korean movies.

  • Silly Rom Coms (My Sassy Girl)
  • Dramatic Military Movies (Silmido)
  • Bloody Action Thrillers (Old Boy)

There’s a few outside those but these 3 archetypes are the bread and butter for the Korean movie industry and I have to say, I really like the last type. It kind of feels like old school action movies but updated with gory thriller plots. The Chaser is just another one of those rather good BATs. A directorial debut for Na Hong Jin in ’08, Chugyeogja is about a guy who’s an ex-cop that’s now a pimp. He sends women out to clients and gets annoyed when a few of his girls start to go missing. He thinks they’ve run away but then he notices a link between the missing girls. It’s the same guy! Oh noes! Plus, he just sent his best girl to him despite the fact that she’s sick and has to leave her daughter at home!

Lead actor Kim Yun Seok puts down a star turn, not unlike Choi Min Sik in Old Boy. He starts out indifferent to events, concerned about the loss of profits and thinks that the guy has been selling his girls but starts to think otherwise as the plot moves forward. The story itself is loosely based on a real serial killer and he happens to be portrayed by Ha Jung Woo, who convincingly puts on a Bae Yong Joon disposition with his boyish face and fake pretend smile. He’s a butcher. He ties up the sick prostitute who left her poor daughter at home and tries to chisel her head in. A coupla neighbors ring the bell and wonder why the owner of the house hasn’t been coming to church. After realising they could compromise his identity, he invites them in and butchers them too. It ain’t the first time he’s killed some peeps.

So from guy worried about losing his income to guy thinking there’s a killer at his best girl, we arrive at guy who feels guilt ridden as he tries to hide the truth from the daughter whilst driving/running around looking for the killer. They meet eventually, in a car crash and the chase begins.

At one point, the killer gives himself up to the police but the problem is he knows he’ll get away if they can’t find enough evidence. So between the police and The Chaser, they’ve got to find the bodies or something, anything to tie the killer down.

One part of the film feels like a massive criticism on the ineffectiveness of Korea’s policing as well as their relatively lax criminal laws. I often have friends telling me how rapists can get away with at most 3 years in jail or how there’s murderers given another go and shit. This movie reinforces that idea as it hinges on the killer’s ability to walk away from it all and finish what he started whilst The Chaser is just left running around in earnest.

The bad guy gets caught eventually but it’s one big bloodfest that didn’t really have to happen.