The Chaser (Chugyeogja, South Korea, 2008)

Saw (South) Korean style?

The Saw franchise meets the (bonkers) South Korean sensibility of Memories of Murder (2003)? I wouldn’t want to deal with the police in South Korea (actually, I wouldn’t want to deal with the police in this country given the violence they are meting out, and inspiring, at demos) if these films are any indication of their corruptness and ineptitude. Memories, based on a real case, is, at least, set in the sticks, and there’s the town v. country copper trope at work. So it made sense that they didn’t know what they were doing (in terms of representation not reality). However, this serial killer movie is set in Seoul and follows a flawed ex-cop who’s trying to find out why his prostitutes are disappearing.

There’s a wonderful surreality that seems to run through South Korean cinema, though I have no idea if this is simply the films I’ve seen or an expression of Korean culture. When this is combined with Saw-like environs and cruelty, there’s bound to be a discomforting mix on the screen. Absolutely gripping too, even though this debut feature of Hong-jin Na is too long. A Hollywood remake is in the offing though there’s absolutely no way that the ending won’t be changed!

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