The Chaser(2008)

The Chaser(2008)

I have said it before, and I will say it again; Korean films are a blast to watch. Not because they are entertaining or fun; no one who has seen movies like Memories of Murder or Oldboy will say anything contrary to my statement. No, they are a blast because they are really intense pieces of art, which will make you question everything and assume not a single thing. Or maybe it’s just my awesome choice at picking out the cream of the Korean offerings, but anyways. Let’s get into The Chaser now, without further ado.

The film begins with the former Task Force detective-turned-pimp sending out one of his girls for business, if you know what I mean. But the guy is also getting paranoid about his state of affairs, as two of his call girls have quite probably just escaped without giving him any information of their whereabouts. He wants to tighten up his protocol to ensure these incidents do not repeat in the future. Unluckily, the girl who the pimp has just sent out, is also on her way to meet him. I don’t think I will be able to tell you readers any more about the plot, as some key details might be spoilt for those of you who wish to see the film. But I can assure you of one thing; it is pretty twisted and messed-up on a different level.

                                                                           The chase is on!

This is a different kind of film from the normal, as we already know the antagonist at the outset itself. Something I haven’t often seen in the suspense thriller genre. The screenplay ought to be tight, which is a requirement for this type of film, and thankfully the film delivers on that front. Also, this is quite possibly the Korean film with the fastest pacing I’ve seen yet. And the acting is spot-on, I must say. All the characters are fully fleshed out, from the pimp to the antagonist to the call girl and her kid daughter, to the police.  It is as if they are living in their roles. That might seem a bit cliche, but that is god’s honest truth. And the story is based on some real-life events, which honestly does throw up some red flags about the existence of hope in this world. This is some really depressing shit.

Overall, I’d say this: if you have watched a few Korean film, chances are you’ve watched this already. If you haven’t, guess what; it’s time for you to do yourself a favor already. And those of you who don’t[or haven’t yet] watched Korean suspense thrillers yet, this is a great way to initiate yourself into it.

RATING : 9.7/10

PROS :
– top-notch acting
– insane pacing
– pretty dark and disturbing

CONS :
– may be too dark for some

 

Train to Busan

Train to Busan

I’ve seen the film Train to Busan make waves in my country recently. But this was well after I’d already seen this film with my friends in the native[Korean] language with subs. So I don’t have any clue of how the dubbed version is, but I can tell you about the original.

Due to some unknown reason, animals have started mutating into the undead fast, and through the death of a human, this very same contamination has entered the human population as well. Meanwhile, Seok Woo is being tormented by his kid daughter Soo-an of about 10 years of age, to meet her mother, who has been estranged from Seok for some time. He finally decides to take Soo-an to her mother, and also have a heart-to-heart discussion with her about their future. They get on the express train to Busan, only to hear on the news being telecast in the train compartments about the undead apocalypse that has unleashed itself over the country. What’s worse is that one of the undead sneaks into a compartment and kills a person, who soon turns into an undead as well. And with some good ol’ geometric progression, it’s only a matter of minutes before the train is swelling with hordes of the undead, and with Seok and his daughter caught in a battle for survival along with the remaining passengers: a middle-aged man with his pregnant wife, some students on a sports trip, a political bigshot and such. Watch as the lot of them try to do everything in their power to survive the undead apocalypse.

Image result for train to busan

The story is pretty generic and adds nothing new to the zombie-horror genre. The progression is pretty predictable as well, sort of. But the setting is really well done, I haven’t yet seen any zombie film shot in a train, and this novelty works for me. Far as character building goes, Yoo Gong playing the estranged husband and father of a 10-year old girl, is marvelous. His transformation from an apathetic person to a better one, is great to behold. Too bad I really couldn’t sympathize with any other characters[except for the political bigwig who showed the best survival instincts in all horror films I’ve seen]. The husband and pregnant wife were good in their roles, but I was truly pained by the whiny kiddo. And the students felt halfway like extras to me.

Train to Busan works better as a thriller film than a horror flick. There aren’t many scary instances in the film, but there are many scenes where your heart races for the survivors, especially the one where they are in the same compartment as the undead, and are trying to sneak out when the train passes through a tunnel. It’s moments like these which make this film a good one.

If only Train to Busan had a better plot, it would have probably been a revolutionary film in the zombie setting. Watch it if you like zombie-flicks in general, or thrillers for that instance.

RATING : 7/10

PROS :
– setting
– genuinely thrilling instances
– the lead and one other character are great

CONS :
– uninspiring and somewhat predictable storyline
– supporting roles aren’t good by any stretch of imagination

MEMORIES OF MURDER

MEMORIES OF MURDER

This movie, which released in 2003, is a Korean crime/mystery in the vein of Se7en, and is based on the serial killings which took place in South Korea in the late 1980s. Man, this movie gave me the chills, and for that alone, I’m gonna rate this highly among the movies I’ve watched.

The movie starts with the discovery of a young woman who has been killed and hidden in a ditch in the outskirts of the city. Within a few days, another woman is also found in similar circumstances, in a field this time. The local detective who’s taken up the case, Park Doo-man, has not dealt with such a serious case till now, and furthermore he is pained by the fact that all the evidence which has been found, is being tampered with right in front of his very eyes. Him and his partner, Cho Yong-koo, are both jerks of the first order besides, beating confessions out of suspects to “solve” the case.

Det.Seo Tae-yoon arrives from Seoul to assist the local detectives in the case, and Seo is often found viewing Park and his partner with ill-disguised contempt, as they go around torturing innocents, chasing obvious red-herrings and showing their ineptitude in general. Especially Cho, who really loves drop-kicking people. Seo and Park even come to blows every once in a while, and have to be forcefully separated by their chief. But as the murders cease to stop, their desperation to catch the killer takes on a fanatic fervor, and they try every means they can think of to catch the killer, keeping their personal differences aside. Even though they have gotten a few clues regarding the killer’s M.O., they are no closer to apprehending the murderer. How do they catch the murderer? That is the question plaguing the detectives (and the viewers too) as the film nears its conclusion…

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                     Yet another messed-up scene in this messed-up movie…

My god, the plot…THE PLOT…this is one of the most depressing movies you could ever watch, and is so intense you’ll probably not blink your eyes for extended periods of time (Don’t do that. Blink your eyes!). Song Kang-ho as the (insert insult here) Det.Park is outstanding in his role. Kim Roi-ha and Seo Hie-ko as the supporting characters Cho and Officer Kwon are great as well. But special mention must be made of Kim Sang-kyung, who plays the role of Det.Seo flawlessly. He is phenomenal in his role, and you really feel as desperate as he is to solve the serial murder case.

The movie is gut-wrenching in its story-telling, and will stay with me for quite some time to come. To make a relation to Hollywood, you could say this movie is like the series True Detective, except even darker, if that is even possible. Recommended for anyone who is not disturbed by violence, as the crime-scenes do get pretty sick to watch, sometimes. The best Korean movie I’ve watched till now, and I’ve watched Oldboy.

RATING : 9.7/10

PROS :
– great story
– superb acting
– ambience is well-maintained

CONS :
– too many drop-kicks, lol (you’ll know once you’ve seen it)

CONFESSION OF MURDER

CONFESSION OF MURDER

I haven’t seen many Korean films till now, and this film is only my third. And I must say, if Korean films are generally like this, then I’ve been missing out on a lot till now. I’m impressed, no doubt about it!

A Korean police detective, Lt. Choi was working on a serial killer case, which got all too personal as the killings went on. But after a chase on a rainy day which leaves him with a Joker-scar, the murderer altogether vanishes, and does not reappear again. But after the passing of the statute of limitations (15 years since the last crime), a self-confessed serial killer pens a memoir on his killings, ostensibly to repent for his crimes. But doubts begin to surface in the detective’s mind as the book-promotion campaign of the serial killer gets underway. Is the writer the serial killer? If so, why didn’t he have a clue of what happened to a missing woman connected to the case? But if not, then how did he know the intimate details of each of the murders? Questions abound within the detective, and the viewers. And on the other hand, some of the victims’ families decide to take matters into their own hands, and dispense their own band of justice. I won’t reveal any more of the story, but I promise this will be a real fun ride.

        These two got some cat-and-mouse thing going on…

The film’s ambience is maintained for the most part, although I must say I wasn’t very enthused about some of the action scenes in the movie. In the sense that the action choreography itself was excellent, but it had no place in the psychological thriller CoM was meant to be. The action parts kind of ruin the atmosphere of the film, and their appearance feels a tad jarring. Also, sometimes the people’s reaction towards the murderer verge on the unbelievable.

The acting though, was not lacking in any department. Jung Jae-young as Lt. Choi is intense in his role. And Park Si-hoo, who plays Lee-Doo seok, was at his devious best as the self-confessed serial killer. Especially the intensity of the chemistry between them two. The movie doesn’t slack off anywhere in intensity, that’s for sure.

Worth watching, especially if you like psychological thrillers and Korean films.

RATING : 7.3/10

PROS :
– story
– acting
– mind-games
– atmosphere

CONS :
– unnecessary action scenes
– some parts are a bit too unbelievable