Directed by: Na Hong-jin
‘The Chaser’ is partly inspired by the horrific spate of murders that shocked South Korea between 2003 and 2004, carried out by a serial killer named Yoo Young-Chul. Only, ‘The Chaser’ isn’t just about a Serial Killer, or even the Police pursuit of a Serial Killer. It is a story of redemption, as a former Police detective turned pimp reconnects to his conscience.
Eom Joong-ho is a pimp who is concerned about missing girls. Concerned not of their wellbeing, but because he thinks they have defected to work for another rival pimp. Running low on workers he sends his last remaining girl, an ailing Mi-jin, to see a client. Mi-jin is ill with the flue, but being a single Mother who needs money, she reluctantly throws on a dress and goes to work.
Mi-Jin unwittingly walks into the clutches of a notorious serial killer named Je Yeong-min. Yeong-min hog ties Mi-Jin and attempts to bludgeon her to death. Fate intervenes as a local couple call at Yeong-min’s house, enquiring about the whereabouts of the house’s owner. Yeong-min, murders the couple and then tries to get rid of their car. Whilst doing this he bumps into Eom Joong-ho on a narrow street. Joong-ho intuitively figures out that Yeong-min has something to do with his missing girls. He lays the smaketh down on Yeong-min, and in the ensuing scuffle both men are arrested. Whilst this occurs Mi-jin is left for dead on a cold blood stained dirty bathroom floor.
The Police in ‘The Chaser’ are bumbling fools; this is particularly evident during the Police station scene, Joong-ho is irate with Yeong-min and accuses him of taking his girls and then Yeong-min casually admits to killing several people. The Police panic realizing they have a serial killer’s confession but no evidence to hold Yeong-min for longer than twelve hours. This sets up a race against the clock as the Police mindlessly chase around for evidence. Joong-ho realizes Mi-jin could be alive and desperately tries to track her down.
Director Na Hong-jin wonderfully captures the chaos and confusion. The Police are clueless, and I’ve noticed this follows a trend in several South Korean movies which depicts local Police as being hard headed bumbling idiots. The Policemen bicker and squander opportunities to prosecute their man. This leads Joong-ho to make use of his detective skills and try and figure out where he can locate Mi-jin.
The whole movie is jam packed with edge of your seat moments, and twists that you never see coming. I won’t spoil the final quarter of the film, but it is horribly unsettling. ‘The Chaser’ is tense and troubling and another South Korean classic.