Chaser headline image


                                                                                "Get to work.... or you'll regret it"

Jung-ho is an ex-cop, turned pimp, who runs a prostitution business. Recently two of the girls working for him have disappeared and he is convinced that they've been kidnapped and sold. His income affected by this, he forces Mi-jin (another of his girls) to go to service a client despite being unwell, only to realise after she's gone that the phone number of the client is the same number used to book each of the other girls prior to their disappearance. The race is on to find the man, before he sells Mi-jin.

Since "The Chaser" is marketed as a serial killer movie it's pretty obvious that the girls haven't been sold but in fact killed - information that Jung-ho only becomes aware of after finding the guy in question, beating him up and being dragged with him to the police station, and even though the suspect admits to killing the girls, the police will be forced to release him in twelve hours if no hard evidence is found. The cops believe that Mi-jin is already dead and that they need to prevent any further killings but she's actually still alive, injured and tied up in the guy's 'playroom', so the race is, in reality, to find her before the killer is set free to finish the job.

Even though the idea of an off the rails ex-good guy slogging it out against an evil killer is not by any means new, The Chaser manages to supplant expectations and viewer predictions on several occasions.
For the first half of the film the tension is built in a similar way to films such as Oldboy, and succeeds in continually building momentum that grips like a vice. Some of that momentum is sadly lost when the police become a part of the story and, although the investigation surrounding the killer has a feeling to it which is akin to Memories Of Murder, the stupidity of the detectives is rather overplayed in this instance. The detectives in Memories Of Murder were exquisitely written characters and the fact that they were, apart from one detective, from a tiny town, and had no experience in dealing with serial killers, meant that they could be portrayed with a healthy dose of black humour present. However, the police in The Chaser are situated in Seoul, the biggest city in the country, and their lack of intelligence borders on unbelievability.
Thankfully in the last third of the film the previously lost momentum is regained and, with an incredibly brutal twist, the film redeems itself. As stated earlier, Memories Of Murder and Oldboy were obvious influences here - to the extent that if those two movies had an illegitimate love child, The Chaser would be it. But, as any child strives to be different from his/her parents, The Chaser sparks with enough originality to stand on its own merits, and really the only specific plot point that rings a bit of an alarm bell is why the killer would be stupid enough to use the same cell phone to book each of the girls he was going to kill, both several times from Jung-ho and also from other massge parlours - but it could be said that I'm nit-picking here.

The characters in The Chaser are all relatively well drawn but none of them stick in the mind the way those in Oldboy and Memories of Murder do, simply because the story is not as original.
The cast perform admirably, with the two male leads succeeding in making it appear that blood was actually drawn in the fight scenes.
Seo Yeong-hie (playing Mi-jin) comes across as suitably terrified and Mi-jin's young daughter, unlike standard young child characters in Western movies (tending to be two dimensional tear inducers), provides both intelligent light relief to the tension and a major dramatic arc later in the story.


The serial killer genre has been awash, certainly in Western cultures, with predictable, thinly plotted movies, used simply as an excuse for excessive gore, but a lot of South Korean film-makers seem to be able to use genres to take movies to unexpected places, with a depth not often seen elsewhere.
The Chaser makes a valiant attempt at this type of depth and, for the most part, succeeds.

Any fan of South Korean thrillers will find much to recommend, despite the previous reservations.


The DVD edition reviewed here is the UK (Region 2) Metrodome release. Metrodome have done a great job with the dvd release providing a crisp print with quality sound. The extras are all interesting and informative and this release shows how much further distribution companies will now go to provide a worthwhile package, much more so than would have been the case a few years ago and thanks, in part, to the quality of releases from distributors such as Tartan Palisades and Optimum Releasing.

Cast/Crew/DVD Details:

Actors ... Characters Played:
Kim Yun-seok... Joong-ho Eom
Ha Jung-woo... Young-min Jee
Seo Yeong-hie... Mi-jin Kim
Jung In-gi... Detective Lee
Park Hyo-ju... Detective Oh

Director: Na Hong-jin
Format: PAL Widescreen
Subtitles: English
Region: Region 2
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 Aspect Ratio
Number of discs: 1
Classification: 18
Studio: Metrodome
Run Time: 132 minutes
DVD Features: Cast & Crew Interviews, Behind The Scenes/Making of Featurette
o Languages: Korean (original soundtrack) Dolby 2.0, Dolby 5.1
o Subtitles: English


All images © Metrodome
Review © P. Quinn