This is the tense thriller of the ginseng country that was released in 2008 which managed to dominate the box office ladder in Korea at that time, and surprisingly this film managed to outperform Hollywood films which were also released at the same time there such as Jumper, Vantage Point, and 27 Dresses. Even more fantastically, the film The Chaser is the directorial debut of Na Hong-jin, who recently collaborated with Thai filmmaker Banjong Pisanthanakun, The Medium (read his review here) recently released in Indonesian cinemas.
Eom Joong-hoo (Kim Yoon-seok) is a former detective who now works as a pimp. At first his business was fairly smooth until one day he faced a big financial loss because many of his subordinate girls disappeared without having time to pay off their debts.
One night, he got a phone call from a customer. Because there is no more stock of girls, Joong-hoo sends Mi-jin (Seo Yeong-hee) who is actually sick. Mi-jin, who is in financial trouble, can’t help but respond to the pimp’s request, in order to support her child, and put aside her illness.
The conflict starts to escalate when Joong-hoo begins to realize that the customer’s phone number is the same number as the last number he received before the girls disappeared without a trace. Worried about Mi-jin’s safety, the pimp decides to investigate, and manages to apprehend Jae Yeong-min (Ha Jeong-woo) who is suspected of being the culprit. However, starting from that arrest, the ex-cop will actually face the most complicated criminal case in his life, where apart from still having to find Mi-jin’s whereabouts, he will face the most sadistic serial killer figure he has ever met.
Of course, there are many reasons why many lovers, even the world’s film industry, have fallen in love with The Chaser, to the point that Hollywood has already pocketed the rights to the remake. In contrast to the formula of most murder psychological thrillers, where generally the identity of the antagonist is a mystery and is only revealed towards the end of the duration, one of the plus points in this film is that the antagonist has been shown clearly even before the first half of the film is finished, but it is the same absolutely does not make what is described here become ‘bloodless’, if not to say it does not cause any significant effect at all.
The same is true in terms of the characterizations, where the main character is not a white character who does invite sympathy, but a gray figure who is likely to be hated, where the first impression shown is that the main character is a cruel, relentless figure. pity, selfish and only think about money. Honestly, because the picture of the main character is very far from the ideal hero figure, it gives more life to this film which makes the story it picks up very reasonable and very likely to happen in the real world.
What is selling here is the psychological intrigue that develops between the main character and the antagonist besides of course what the conflict resolution process will be like, by the main character. The Chaser is a crime drama about a serial killer and his pursuer, but from a seemingly simple theme, this story can develop from various sides, even to the stage of subtle satire on the symptoms of life, especially what is happening in Korea.
The brilliance of Na Hong-jin’s debut is also matched by the existing cast, especially the three main characters, which makes this film, undeniably, very worthy of being considered one of the most prominent 21st century Asian films and even very worthy. enters the ranks of the highest quality Asian films of all time ever made.
The story idea of this film was inspired by the case and real character of a serial killer in Korea named Yoo Young-chul [l8 April 1970 – 19 Juni 2005], the perpetrators of the murder of more than 20 people including dozens of call girls, some of whom became victims of his mutilation and cannibalism, after being executed with a hammer, which became his favorite weapon. Young-chul was eventually executed by hanging. The story of the investigation of this case later became the material for the Netflix documentary series, The Raincoat Killer: Chasing a Predator in Korea.