Several prostitutes are disappearing and their pimp, former detective Joong-ho, takes it upon himself to find out where they have gone. Clues tell him that all girls disappeared after visiting the same client, and he just sent one of his girls there now. In his search he soon finds himself in something bigger than just a bad deal.
Upon watching some titles I had skipped, I also found myself reading a forum where "The Chaser" was mentioned. Since I was already getting into some Asian stuff, I added it to my cue and ended up watching this and the director's newer "The Yellow Sea". I have very mixed feelings about "The Chaser", even though I definitely liked the film. Hopefully I can made myself clear in the matter here.
I just love a good cat-and-mouse-type flick like this. It's simple enough to start with, and then the chase escalades to quite extreme heights. Joong-ho Eom used to be a detective, but nowadays he's a pimp. Not one of those bling-bling pimps, but one who actually seems to care somewhat about his girls. Although, mostly about the money, of course. If his girls are in trouble, he'll do what he can to get it sorted out. But when several girls disappear and all clues lead to the same person, he believes that this person has been selling off his girls elsewhere. He's not just gonna let that go, so he decides to go after him. But we, the audience, already know that he's not selling them. He kills them. Brutally. Joong-ho has just sent one of his girls there - but is it too late?
The movie focuses a lot on trying to find the house of the client, Young-min Jee, even after Joong-ho has find him - since he needs to have his girls back. When Joong-ho meets the Young-min, they end up in a big brawl on the street, which causes the cops to take them both in. Young-min admits to having killed the girls, but Joong-ho doesn't believe any of it.
The movie couldn't have a more appropriate name than "The Chaser". It's all a long chase, whether it's for Young-min, or to find his house. It's a movie you definitely get invested in, for better or worse. It's exciting as hell to get really invested in a movie, but you also get so aggravated when things aren't going the way they should. "The Chaser" can drive you mad at times: the cops are pathetic, the house is too hard to find, and things just get worse and worse for Joong-ho. There isn't much redemption at all in the movie, and I can't deny that it's tough to sit through, but it's also the point of the movie. It's a rewarding experience in that you get just how unjust life can be, but it will definitely have you shouting at the screen a few times over.
"The Chaser" comes with a few violent scenes, but much of the movie is focused on other things - much harder things to watch than graphic violence. It's a challenging movie in that it doesn't give you a helping hand. When you think things are gonna look up, they are most likely just about to go further down than where you just were. It's still lacking some emotional invest so the feeling you get is not so much "depression" as it is "desperation". It's simply exhausting to watch a movie with incompetent cops and a lead that never gets a break. It's definitely a good movie though, and I also recommend the director's "The Yellow Sea" which I decided not to review. Between the two you'll have enough adrenaline pumping that you'll have to run it off before going to bed.