Let us list the ways:
- The killer is apprehended in the first act.
- The "hero" is an ex-(corrupt)-detective who is now a pimp.
- The damsel in distress is one of his whores.
- The loyal sidekick is (rightfully) named "Meathead."
- The villain gives an understated performance.
- All the chases are on foot.
- The biggest car crash is a fender bender.
- There's no obligatory romance.
- It's over two hours long.
- The kid isn't wise beyond her years (and is, in fact, kind of stupid).
- Shots last over 4 seconds (well, some do).
What it gets right:
- Lots of violence.
- The police work is a joke (albeit, sadly, intentionally).
And despite all these glaring flaws, this film still has the gall to provide the white knuckles only reserved for Saw viewings when you're pulling your hair out from its stupidity.
How dare the film defy formula?
Perhaps The Chaser's largest genre faux pas is placing the movie on its flawed protagonist's shoulders, relying on his irrational, borderline-incompetent, and darkly humorous attempts on rescuing his lost girls. Kim Yun-Seok's character is so engrossing and (unnervingly) likeable that his guilt-driven sadness and recklessness causes us more discomfort than the victims' bloody life-or-death situation. And what kind of childish thriller actually focuses on character?
The Chaser: 8/10