Hong-jin Na’s 2008 thriller, The Chaser, is but a brief glimpse into the chaotic world of pimps, police and killers. Jung-ho Eom (Jun-seok Kim) plays an ex-detective who has turned to the dark side…prostitution.
When we first meet Jung-ho, he is in dire financial trouble as his very talented staff has begun to disappear before clearing their debts with him. There’s almost nothing worse than messing with a pimp’s money, until you start messing with his product. One by one his staff dwindles, and as the pieces from the puzzle slowly fall into place, he realizes that his product is not voluntarily disappearing.
As the hammers and chisels begin to pound away at the truth of the disappearance of his workers, Jung-ho and the viewer are taken on a rollercoaster ride of emotions. Unfortunately, not the happy, warm fuzzy feeling of emotions, but rather the dismal, devastating, no-light-at-the-end-of-the-tunnel emotions that bury themselves deep in your soul.
Na’s The Chaser, reminds the viewer to be wary of the labels society has put on things: good and evil, right and wrong, law and order. The police throughout this film are nothing but an obstacle in the way of justice – whatever justice that may be. Na pulls the viewer into almost a three-ring circus atmosphere as the cops, the killer, and Jung-ho battle to save – each in their own way – Mi-jin Kim (Yeong-hie Seo), the last of Jung-ho’s workers to go missing.
It is a battle of cons, wit, and physical shape to see who can “save” the girl first. And, oh my, is this a brilliant battle. This film is in a constant state of chaos, whether chaos occurring onscreen with the characters, or the chaos and confusion Na forces into your mind as you watch this wild goose chase occur.
Na near-perfectly blends together confusion, violence, thrill, horror, suspense, hope, devastation and even a little comedic relief throughout The Chaser. So when it’s Friday night and you have nothing better to do and can’t decide what film you’re in the mood for, pop this puppy in and let it help alleviate the worries of your own personal misery and dive deep into the underworld of chaos, cops, killers and pimps.
And always remember…pimpin’ ain’t easy.