The Chaser


Canadian Premiere

  • South korea 2008
  • 125 min
  • 35mm
  • Korean with English subtitles
WINNER: Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor, Best Cinematography, Grand Bell Awards 2008
WINNER: Best Picture, Action Asia Section, Deauville Asian Film Festival 2009
Official Selection, Cannes Film Festival 2008
Official Selection, Fantastic Fest 2008

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"The Chaser révèle un nouveau petit prodige du cinéma coréen" - Vincent Malausa, LES CAHIERS DU CINÉMA


Director: Na Hong-jin
Screenplay: Na Hong-jin, Hong Won-Chan, Lee Shinho
Cast: Kim Yun-seok, Ha Jung-woo, Seo Yeong-hie
Producers: Choi Moon-su
Distributor: Les Films Séville / E1


Legion are the fans of Korea’s “New Wave,” a movement that between 2000 and 2006 brought us some of the world’s greatest cinematic moments. It has brought the world so many masterpieces in such a short period of time that expectations have grown with each SYMPATHY FOR MR. VENGEANCE, each A BITTERSWEET LIFE and each MEMORIES OF MURDER. And for each of these films, there are at least three lesser-known works that are just as remarkable. Due to this massive abundance of promising work, the inevitable deflating of the bubble has followed. Amidst this slowdown, certain members of the South Korean film industry have attempted to dive headlong into formulaic Hollywood-style movie making. Others, such as Na Hong-jin, have used better judgment and opted for a return to roots. And from that has sprung THE CHASER.

Jung-ho (Kim Yun-seok) is a former cop turned pimp. Problem is, his girls are disappearing and he is convinced that a competitor is stealing them. But in this particular business, the demand from clients never ceases. When one of his protégées falls ill, he has no choice but to force her to continue working. It is then that Mi-jin (Seo Yeong-hie), a single mom engaged in prostitution in order to support her son, heads over to meet a client. Once there, she quickly realizes that all is not right. But it is too late for she is now caught in the clutches of Young-min (Ha Jung-woo), a methodical serial killer.

With its cruel tale ripe with brutal violence, injected with biting social commentary and executed with stunning fluidity, its antihero both noble and notorious, its dreary ambiance and dark humour which can turn heartfelt laughter into an uncomfortable giggle in the blink of an eye, THE CHASER has absolutely no reason to envy those past Korean masterpieces that have so delighted fans at the Fantasia festival. With this first movie, Na Hong-jin is making his presence felt. THE CHASER is wonderful on all levels. As soon as we begin to think that we have the plot figured out, it goes off in the opposite direction. The two lead actors play admirably off each other. Kim Yun-seok (THE WAR OF FLOWERS) manages to maintain a palpable intensity throughout the entire film while Ha Jung-woo (MY DEAR ENEMY) holds his own, never getting lured into overacting. The less he shows, the more terrifying a serial killer he becomes. THE CHASER is yet more proof that there is still captivating cinema being produced in South Korea. Missing it would be a grave mistake!

—Nicolas Archambault (translated by Irina March)

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