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.
1 Comment | tags: based on an actual serial killer, brutal, cat and mouse game, Chan Wook-Park, chilling serial killer performance, Choi Min-sik, dark and heart pumping thriller, dark Asian films, debut film, Eom Joong-ho, Eun-ji, evidence, ex-cop, fair and human punishment laws, former cop, good thriller action stars, Ha Jung-woo, high stakes, Hollywood, I Saw the Devil, Infernal Affairs, Je Yeong-hee, justice, Kim Yoon-seok, Korea, ladies of the night, Lee Byung-hun, Leonardo DiCaprio, Martin Scorsese directing, murders, Na Hong-jin, new faces, not a slasher film, not that much gore, original Asian film, pimp, police, police skills, poor remakes, powerful acting, psychological thriller, refined and elegant, Revenge trilogy, sadistic killer, seedy underbelly, Seoul, severe beatings, shortcomings of the law, Song Kang-ho, Streets of Seoul, subtitles issue, Sympathy for Lady Vengeance, The Chaser, The Departed, twisted film, U.S. remakes, warrant | posted in Movies
I’m pretty sure I saw this movie in its last leg of showings in theaters. I had wanted to see it for a while (bar people hating on it for having Kristen Stewart) and was happy to finally see it. My overall impression was good of the film, but for different reasons other than the typical for liking a movie. But I’ll get to that in a second. On an average Friday, in an average theater, among other couples who seemed they wanted to do nothing
Ah yes, a Twilight reference.
more than make out for $10.50 at a poor film, I watched Snow White and the Huntsman.
The story is a bit different than your average Disney movie. Based more on the darker version of events from the Grimm Bros., this movie attempts to scare more than romanticize. I think that’s why people had a problem with the plot because they were expecting this all too romantic kissing scene, and they didn’t get it because that’s not what this movie was about. A strong female character is created to battle an even stronger female character, not really making it about the Huntsman at all (a character
Lookin’ pretty fierce there, Thor.
I developed a liking for from Rutger Hauer’s surprisingly good performance of it in The Tenth Kingdom). And for those of you out there who labeled this a Twilight-like movie from the start, you were wrong. Just because Kristen Stewart is in a film does not mean it has anything to do with Twilight. Shame on you.
So, plot. (As if there were those of you out there who didn’t have a semblance of Snow White.) So one day Snow White’s mom has a little inkling to go out in the garden when it’s snowing. Pricks her finger, 3 drops of blood, bam! You have a baby and a dead mother during
Maybe if I scream they’ll appreciate my performance…
childbirth. King Magnus (Noah Huntley, I thought I recognized him from 28 Days Later…) raises her and loves Snow White to no end. Then, after a cinematically striking 2 minute fight, Magnus finds his new Queen, Ravenna (Charlize Theron). Snow White (Stewart) grows up to be sooooo beautiful that the Evil Queen can’t stand it. Wanting to eat her heart for immortality (remember this is a fairy tale, you adults out there), Snow White escapes and the Queen sends the Huntsman (Chris Hemsworth) after her. Let the pursuit begin.
Oh, the wonderful textures…
The casting in this movie was really hit or miss. Kristen Stewart did what little job she could to hold the lead role together, putting on a weak English accent. I can’t blame her when other lesser known actresses were up for the part and they weren’t given it. Sadly, that’s what happens when you’re popular, you steal all the roles. Charlize Theron thought screaming for no reason at certain points would get her acting across more powerfully. That childlike antic won’t get you far, I’m afraid. She was constantly trying to create this Shakespearean demon witch that just came across as weak and sad. Chris Hemsworth was as macho and boring as usual (sorry Thor, but if you are in every movie with a cleaving/hammering device of some sort, you’re typecast. Just like Orlando Bloom as Legolas. Has anyone seen the archery scene in the Musketeers remake?) as the Hunstman. Sorry, that was a long side note. Okay, let’s go through the list of people they chose before they decided on Hemsworth.
A Viggo Mortensen stand in? Perfect!
Tom Hardy. I can see him in the role after the trailers from the new Batman movie. Not a huge fan (he has the Christopher Nolan brand all over his ass. Of course he’s gonna get work…) but he would’ve done the job. Johnny Depp. Never appropriate for an action role. He did well in the POTC movies, but what the Hell kind of offer is that? As Daniel Tosh said, “Cool should have a cutoff, and my vote is 48.” Sorry John Depp, you’re out. Then there was Viggo Mortensen. Now there’s a fantasy actor. The quintessential Aragorn. He has been looking for a reason to come back to fantasy/action films, I’m sure. But he turned it down as well. Maybe the age difference when it comes to Stewart? Who knows… Hugh Jackman. The last one asked before Thor. Wolverine? Sure, he’s pretty ballin. But he declined as well. So, after all these turn downs, the studio turned to a man who’s good with hammer like objects. Great goin’ there, Chris Hemsworth.
But there is a silver lining to this movie. The dwarven cast. The second I saw who they cast as the Seven Dwarves, I was in Heaven. You couldn’t pick a more perfect English cast to play all 7! You got Bob Hoskins leading the group. Elderly and
Mayhem while you work.
blind, he’s good no matter if he’s Smee or Roger Rabbit’s partner. Ian McShane, the Deadwood master. I was surprised he was pretty damn good. Johnny Harris from Black Death. Word. Toby Jones, the infamous voice of Dobby the House Elf. I’d rather remember him from other roles, but he was great as well. Eddie Marsan, another great English actor. I like his smaller roles in V for Vendetta and The Illusionist. People will know him from Sherlock Holmes. Ray Winstone, the gruff talking Mr. French from The Departed. Now he’s a good actor. And Nick Frost of the Pegg/Frost duo. Need I say more? And I’d also like to give a little nod to Brian (pronounced Breen) Gleeson. He’s an up and coming English actor who actually made me shed a tear in this one. Wow, that paragraph was a mouthful of excited English actors.
I like touching silky things.
And now I come to my main point of why I liked this movie. It was pretty to look at. Every scene had some special effect or interesting texture that I wish I could’ve reached out and touched in the film. As it is Rupert Sanders first film, it is understandable that it looks this way. He started off as a English commercial director. He has to sell a product based on look. That’s why this movie is so visually appealing. The fur, the white paint you see in the film, the forest scenes, everything looks so good you could eat it in Willy Wonka’s candy room. And that’s something you don’t always see in every movie. So a bit of a bravo for that.
So you may not be able to see this movie in theaters now, but check it out when it gets its DVD/Blu-Ray release in September of 2012. It was an enjoyable watch for the sights and sounds, but always remember that can only take you so far in a film. 6.4 out of 10.
Get some of that troll…
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