I love this movie. Watched it twice, read X’s review twice, and still can’t get enough. Now I understand why X says Ha Jung-woo is only OK-ish in H.I.T. That drama didn’t make use of his insane talent at all. He’s so incredible in The Chaser playing this innocent-looking serial killer who butchers people as if they were pigs to be slaughtered. Chasing him is Kim Yoon-seok, the mysterious informer we all loved in Resurrection/Rebirth. In The Chaser he is an ex-detective turned pimp, an unlikely anti-hero whose appearance and acting remind me so much of Song Kang-ho‘s in The Host.
In fact, there are numerous parallels between The Host and The Chaser. Both ridicule the bumbling ineptitude of government offices. The police in The Chaser are clueless, hapless, always a step late, and are even encouraged to fabricate evidence. In both movies, the “villain” is revealed very early, so it’s not a matter of finding out who did it, but a race against time to rescue the villain’s last victim. In The Host we had awesome Ko A-sung, a girl mature beyond her age. In The Chaser it is little Kim Yoo-jung, who tends to her ill mother and displays a spunk and world-weariness that belies how young she really is. Both girls, who even look somewhat alike, turn in amazing performances.
I watched both movies expecting to be scared out of my wits. I never expected to laugh so hard. For instance, the interrogation scenes at the police station were just priceless. Like The Host, The Chaser mixes tragedy and comedy brilliantly, a perfect blend of the hilarious and the horrific. Of course The Chaser ups the horror factor much, much more. Finally, both movies owned the box office and deservedly so.
The acting in The Chaser is stupendous. I’m transfixed by the chaser and the chased, from their very first (hysterical) meeting in that alley to that final eye-popping and mind-blowing showdown. Kim Yoon-seok and Ha Jung-woo. Wow, wow, WOW. Every time they are on screen together, I salivate. I know Kim Yoon Seok has been sweeping the awards and this is truly his year. But if Kim Yoon-seok is a 10, so is Ha Jung-woo.
My DVD comes with special features, nothing like the ones in the Limited Edition release, but enough to make me very happy. First, they have English subs! There’s a 10-minute interview segment, individually with Kim Yoon-seok, Ha Jung-woo and Seo Yeong-hee. Kim Yoon-seok said that for every 50m that we see on the screen (a 5-second segment), they had to run more than 2km. And really run, at top speed. It was winter the last two months of filming, but they had to wear summer clothes. It was cold and they were all exhausted. The fight scenes were done for real, so there was always the fear of getting hurt.
What was funny in Ha Jung-woo’s interview was when he said, in an almost deadpan manner, that there were so many dogs around the filming site. They couldn’t control the dogs (which weren’t part of the action anyway) and he said he wished the dogs’ owners would take them away, have someone care for them so they wouldn’t affect filming. I think he forgot they were most likely stray dogs, LOL.
My favorite part in the special features is a 20-minute making clip. Wow, that one was truly an eye-opener. It was wonderful to be able to see a scene from different camera angles. For instance, in the scene where Kim asks Ha if he is “4885,” the clip shows us the various ways that scene was filmed, from front, and then side, back, etc. What we get in the movie is eventually just one angle so the making clip really enhances our appreciation of the scene. To be able to understand what they were all saying is of course fantastic. You can tell the PD is really meticulous. I loved seeing how they filmed the chasing and fighting scenes. Poor Ha Jung-woo, applying band-aid to his knee and later to his elbow for what was obviously a very painful wound.
Great movie. I’ll rewatch it in a heartbeat.