The Chaser (Korea, 2008, 125 min, dir: Hong-jin Na, cast: Yun-seok Kim, Yoo-jeong Kim, Jung-woo Ha).
Along with apple pie, the US culture can take credit for police procedural and gangster films. Competition is heating up in Korea, France, Denmark, Brazil and a handful of other countries where directors have learned the art of the car chase, the interrogation, the cynical rogue cop and the clever psychopath.
In The Chaser, Joon-ho Eom ( Yun-seok Kim) is the rogue cop turned pimp who sends his girls out to the grittier districts of Seoul. When one of them sends panicked cell phone calls back to him he frantically tries to find her and save her. She’s disappeared but the killer is in plain site.
Without evidence, and scorned by the police he once worked with; Joon-ho starts a long slog to bring down the killer (Jung-woo Ha). Along the way he bursts into his former whore/employee’s apartment for evidence and meets her little daughter (Yoo-jeong Kim).
From then on the movie has to follow the inevitable march to a life or death fight with the killer while the hero takes care of, and falls for, the adorable precocious child.
It all sound like we’ve seen it before, but the strength is in the delivery. Pathos, comedy, and great fights. The Casher is writer/director Hong-jin’s first film. The Yellow Sea is his second. He’s worth a look at both films.