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Chaser, The


Stars: Yoon-suk Kim, Young-hee Seo, Jung-woo Ha

Director: Hong-jin Na

The problem with this Korean thriller that often threatens to be really good is that its basic plot is over in half-an-hour. For a 123-minute film that's not good news.

Cop-turned-pimp Jung-ho (Kim) is concerned that his girls are disappearing. He suspects they're being sold by another. In fact the culprit is Young-min (Ja) who has been killing the girls and slicing them up for reasons the film chooses not to explain. The pimp smells a rat just after he has forced young mother Mi-jin (Seo) to forsake her sickbed and young daughter to work the streets.

At this point, Jung-ho goes gung-ho and storms after the unhappy hooker, who by this time has been trapped by the killer. Fortunately, Jung-ho's car rams Young-min's and the latter, covered in his victims' blood, is soon in custody.

After this brisk half-hour, the director clearly has some thinking to do to raise another 90 minutes' worth of footage. Your belief in the rest of the plot may depend on whether you can swallow if a man who has confessed to 12 murders (and refused to give his address) could ever be released for 'lack of evidence'. Maybe Korean laws are different to ours.

At any rate, the suspense comes and goes, sometimes disappearing altogether as the film keeps taking sidesteps. Like Young-min's chopped-up victims, some bits and pieces here are juicier than others. The performances are, well, full-blooded.

David Quinlan

South Korea 2008. UK Distributor: Metrodome. Colour.
123 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: 18.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 1, Violence/Horror 2, Drugs 1, Swearing 1.

Review date: 15 Sep 2008