Tuesday, March 02, 2010


Ebert on The Chaser

On Jan. 27 (while I was in America, and on a lengthy vacation from blogging) Roger Ebert gave a three and a half-star review to The Chaser, a sleeper hit in Korea in 2008 that has since arrived in America.

While noting the film's brutal, unfiltered violence, Ebert was mostly positive:

"The Chaser" is an expert serial-killer film from South Korea and a poster child for what a well-made thriller looked like in the classic days ...

When I see a film like this, it reminds me of what we're missing. So many recent movies are all smoke and mirrors. A thriller is opening soon in which the star cannot be clearly seen to complete any physical act in an action sequence. We might as well be reading a comic strip, where our minds are expected to fill in the movement between the frames. You sit there and "The Chaser" unfolds, and the director knows what he wants and how to do it without insulting us. In addition to remaking this movie, Hollywood should study it.

My wife bought The Chaser for me on DVD as a birthday gift in September 2008. Neither of us knew anything about it, really, as she doesn't study film with the interest that I do, while the language barrier prevents me from keeping fully up to date on Korean cinema.

Many of the movies scenes were shocking in their content, especially one near the end involving a hammer. There was a time in my youth such a film would have made me afraid to leave my apartment for fear of serial killers that might lurk on other floors. Thankfully those days have passed, though I was somewhat hesitant to let my wife travel alone in the days that followed.

My visceral reaction to the film's content does not mean that I can't recognize that it was well-shot and well-acted. It does a particularly good job of exposing the corruption and inefficacy of the Korean police. One day, keeping these salient points in mind, I may be able to watch it again.

But not anytime soon.

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