Tag Archives: cat and mouse game

The Chaser: Korea Keeps Kickin’ It

Should I ever be surprised now when Korea delivers with another amazingly dark and heart pumping thriller movie? I think at this point I just accept that those Krazy Koreans know just how to do it right. Chan Wook-Park and the Revenge Trilogy, I Saw The Devil, and now The Chaser. I hadn’t heard much about this one, but now I will actively be on the lookout for Na Hong-jin after this one. In his debut film, we are

A pimp pushed to the edge to use his strong hand.

introduced to a sadistic killer and a former cop turned pimp and his desire to get back his employees. With a seedy feeling underneath the whole thing, this movie explores the shortcomings of the justice system in catching what’s right in front of them.

As I said before, Eom Joong-ho (Kim Yoon-seok) is an ex-cop turned more lucrative business owner of a ladies of the night agency. He has recently been sending his ladies to the same man and they don’t seem to be coming back to him. This troubles him (he is losing money, after all) and he starts actively seeking out this man stealing his livelihood. What he discovers is something far worse. Based on an actual serial killer in Seoul, Ha Jung-woo plays Je Yeong-hee, a young and aspiring serial killer being looked for for years. This game of cat and mouse just got more dangerous.

The deranged serial killer. Chilling.

And what I liked about it were the stakes. Yeong-hee admits to the murders and the police find he’s a serial killer they’ve been looking for for a while. Eom Jonng-ho brings him in (well, he beats him in) and demands they arrest him and find his women. But there is a justice dilemma that favors Yeong-hee. There’s no evidence, and he was beaten severely, against fair and humane punishment laws. He was treated poorly and, without a warrant, they can’t hold him for very long. With a ridiculous police scramble for evidence, Eom Jonng-ho uses his police skills from way back when to find the conviction.

That’s a pretty good hog-tie right there.

This movie is very twisted in the same way that it is a bit more refined and elegant. There’s not too many bloody dismemberment scenes or gory, blood spurting elements to it. It’s very brutal with the beatings and depravity of it, but it holds back on the reigns when it comes to showing things. It is more of a Streets of Seoul type of film than having to do with a slasher film. The police and “ex-police” call the shots and do all they can to uphold justice. It was an interesting change of pace.

The justice beatdown dance.

A lot of the Korean actors in this film I wasn’t familiar with from other films. The daughter, Eun-ji was from Sympathy for Lady Vengeance, but that was about all I recognized. It was nice to see new faces that I can start to follow like I do with Choi Min-sik, Lee Byung-hun, and Song Kang-ho. Those guys are really legitimate good thriller/action actors, and I’m glad their work is recognized, even over here.

What I don’t appreciate is the fact that U.S. movie makers in Hollywood think it’s cool to remake these movies in a more American way. They’re planning to remake The Chaser with Leo DiCaprio as the leading man. Martin Scorsese in the the talks for directing. It’s gonna be an Infernal Affairs/ The Departed situation all over again. The original Asian make was just fine, why go and jumble it up with a poor remake that attempts to improve on the one before? Is it that

He has a very Choi Min-sik feel to him in this film. Think Oldboy.

Americans don’t wanna watch Asians and read subtitles or something. Come off it then…

But I loved this movie. It’s dark with all the right amounts of thriller/gory/horror/action/police work that you want in a psychological thriller like this. There’s some powerful acting and a chilling, “you gotta hate me” performance from Ha Jung-woo playing the serial killer. It has a good I Saw the Devil feel to it as well. Keep it coming, Korea, you gotta love all these dark Asian films. 8.9 out of 10.

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Mirai Nikki: Future Diary

Mirai Nikki, Future Diary.

From the get go I’m gonna call this the standout anime for 2012. Although it was done back in October through April, it’s the show that got me excited and entertained for hours. I pretty much watched this show in a few days. I haven’t done that since Death Note. And Death Note is my favorite anime, so you can see what that says about this one. Mirai Nikki (known in English as Future Diary) has an interesting concept, a wide array of characters (one for everyone to choose and root for), and great animation. I don’t know where the Japanese come up with ideas for shows like this, but these intricate plot anime are where it’s at.

Mirai Nikki is the story of Yukiteru Amano (Yukki for short) and his apathetic life of recording things around them. He never hangs out with anyone or does anything remotely social. I guess you could

You crazy, ninth…

count hiding under his blanket and speaking with Deus, the god of this world. One day Yukki visits Deus and Deus decides to give him a new phone diary, one that can tell the future of things around Yukki. Using this to his advantage over the next several days, Yukki finds himself being chased down by a serial killer. In the course of running away, Yukki runs into somebody he didn’t expect. Yuno Gasai, his obsessive stalker. Learning that there are other participants in this “game” with future diaries, Yukki must fight against others, even kill, in order to become the next god of this world. The game is on.

Some of the other characters of Mirai Nikki (they’re kinda better…)

Just from that last paragraph’s description of the story, don’t you want to watch this intricate plot to figure out what happens? And, for me, it’s all about exploring and discovering the world of this wide ranging cast of diary owners. I have to say something right here to speak to that. This show is about “dead ending”/killing the other owners of the diaries. Every owner has their own reason for participating, and, I’ll say, to a fault, Yukiteru doesn’t. It seems, throughout the entire show, that Yukiteru is only playing this game to not die. He had no aspirations of becoming god, and I guess that’s a reason for playing. But that is a faulted reason. Yuno on the other hand… is a bit more complicated.

But this is the first anime I’ve ever watched where I liked all of the other supporting characters, and absolutely hated the two main characters from start to finish. Yukiteru is apathetic and weak. He has nothing to fight for and no way to fight for it. Minene Uryu (the 9th diary owner) is a terrorist, and although she may want to make the world better, she goes about it all wrong. Every character I did like and I thought had a good

This is what Yukki sees under his blanket fantasy world.

reason for winning isn’t given enough time to do so or the means to do so. This constantly was thrown in my face and was quite frustrating. Yuno is manipulative and never allows Yukki to decide if he loves her or not. With such flawed main characters, I guess it’s okay to hate them to an extent. They have to redeem themselves after all.

And that’s why I was okay with liking this show, despite hating the characters who got 80% of the screen time. I don’t think any show has to adhere to the good/bad dichotomy between protagonists and antagonists. And they don’t have to be a good person to be a hero either. So that’s well done in itself. Nothing in life is black and white.

Pretty PC for 9th Graders…

But the plot! The plot, the plot, the plot! Every episode ends with a cliffhanger, you have no idea where the story is going or when it will end! The intricacy of everyone involved in the Future Diary game is complex and not so easy to decipher. No one is safe and everyone is at risk, even those people outside the game. Betrayal, complex love stories, murder, this show has it all (and not without a bit of sexuality and boobs you wouldn’t expect on 9TH GRADERS). Everyone is out for themselves and it is up to you to side with who you think is right. This show would function perfectly as a choose your own ending game (point and click, preferably) in which you take each character to their limits. And praise Jeebus that Funimation got ahold of this show for dubbing, although I think a Death Note cast would’ve worked just as well.

So watch this show if it’s the last thing you do. It is well worth it and brings a whole lot of genres of anime together into one storyline. Anyone who enjoys good adrenaline pumping television, great character driven stories, and an all around game of cat and mouse with human lives at stake, watch this. You won’t regret it. And I stand firm in this being one of the best anime of 2012, maybe the last few years. Mirai Nikki, I may not like Ninth, but this deserves a 9th out of 10.

Beware the love triangles…


I Saw the Devil: South Korea Does it Again!

So recently in the past few years, I’ve been really getting into South Korean films. And not just horror, but action, drama, and

Byung-hun Lee. Complete badass.

suspense/thriller. It all started with The Host (starring my favorite South Korean actor, Kang-ho Song) and has branched into similar movies by director Jee-Woon Kim. And this includes The Good, The Bad, The Weird, A Tale of Two Sisters, The Uninvited, and A Bittersweet Life. And I have just recently added I Saw the Devil, Je-Woon Kim’s latest masterpiece. And I loved every minute of it.

This latest film by Je-Woon Kim is a suspense/thriller with a few elements of twisted gore and horror, the perfect mix if you ask me. Kim Soo-hyeon (Byung-hun Lee), a special agent/detective, has just recently lost his wife was to a brutal murder, not knowing she was pregnant. Upon discovery, Soo-hyeon decides to pursue this serial murderer and get revenge. Once he finds Kyung-chul (Min-sik Choi), Soo-hyeon goes hardcore after Kyung-chul with a fury and vengeance that almost seems unfair.

Using his secret agent skills and the aide of a tracking device, Soo-hyeon proceeds to beat the living crap out of Kyung-chul and then admitting him to a local hospital after every beat-down. With no idea why this is happening, a cat and mouse game comes about for the ages. Who will prevail?

Min-sik Choi. Sick and fantastic.

There are some freaking great aspects to this movie. First of all, the mind game that’s created echoes another film that Min-sik Choi starred in, Oldboy. Without a rhyme or reason to this menacing, violent game, people are killed left and right in pursuit of justice and cold-blooded revenge. What’s nice though, is that there’s a clearly defined line between good and evil. You know for certain that Kyung-Chul is evil and Soo-hyeon is good. What changes is the blurred line between the two and who becomes more evil in the end, and also, more importantly, who has the last laugh.

With the pain and emotion behind the actors, both for different purposes, the hidden killer inside

Thank you for a fantastic movie, Jee-Woon Kim.

everyone is unleashed and survival becomes a determining factor after all. With sick and subtle gory scenes, an occasional bare hands brawl, and even some hack and slash action, this movie goes places where normal cops can’t go. To bring in the bad guy and exact your revenge, just how far would you go to do the deed? A definite 10 out of 10.