I love Koreatown in the springtime…

Wherein I blog about all things Korean in Los Angeles

Ripe for a Remake: The Chaser August 2, 2008

Filed under: movies & film — Raven @ 10:08 am
Tags: , ,

The only reason The Chaser (추격자) is a Korean movie is that it happened to be made in Korea. There are no inherent details about the story that tie it to Korean culture. And this means it has a better shot than some at translating into a decent remake. With luck, even a pretty good remake.

As I mentioned a few posts ago, there are plans to remake it with Leo DiCaprio starring, so I watched it with that in mind. The protagonist is played by an actor in his forties, so I’m thinking they’ll write the role younger in the Hollywood version and give it to DiCaprio. I can’t see him getting any other role in the movie. The role of the protagonist is exactly the kind where DiCaprio would excel. It’s dark and the guy’s morality is gray, but he has good impulses (some, anyway).

It’s the story of a cop-turned-pimp who goes looking for the guy who’s making his girls disappear. The pimp is played by Kim Yoon Seok, whom I was delighted to recognize from the kdrama Revenge (부활, also translated Resurrection or Rebirth or Life Again or maybe we should just say The Drama of Many Titles). He played a supporting role in that drama, but a fairly important one, acting in part as the hero’s conscience. I’m fully intending to blog about it sometime. It was a good one.

But back to The Chaser. Kim Yoon Seok turned in a good performance (I have a feeling he always does). It was a solid film, engrossing, dark, with a character I cared about even though I’m not generally inclined to like pimps. The structure was slightly atypical, but not radically so, and it worked. The presence of one character initially made me worry that the story would go off on a tangent, but she turned out to be well-integrated into the protagonist’s journey. The antagonist… well, I could say something about his motives, but I’m afraid it might be a spoiler, so I won’t. All I’ll say is he was definitely the kind of guy you want to see brought down.

One warning, though (actually three). If you don’t like gore, this movie isn’t for you. And if you don’t like dark, it’s not for you. And if you aren’t into antihero protagonists, it’s not for you either.

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10 Responses to “Ripe for a Remake: The Chaser”

  1. JT Says:

    Nothing inherent that ties this movie to Korean culture? LOL… well, perhaps not on its surface. I guess you’d have to go a little deeper to see that this movie taps directly into an undercurrent that many are aware of, but not many speak of: that the police and gangsters in Korea have always been quite cozy with each other. There are a number of cops you would swear were gangsters themselves the way they talk and act and conduct official business. Everyone knows that prostitution in Korea is illegal, and everyone knows where the red light districts are, but these brothels operate with impunity thanks in no small part to the cops who get their cuts from the spoils. That the lead actor is a cop turned pimp is hardly a stretch. I haven’t seen this movie, but I hope the remake is able to convey the message that there is no clear boundary between legality and illegality. In a country like Korea where there is still a lot of government corruption in the form of petty (and sometimes not so petty) bribes, the distinction is like telling one shade of gray from the next.

  2. jkk808 Says:

    Yeah. Because ther’es no government corruption in the the form of bribes in the US.

  3. JT Says:

    My post didn’t say or imply that there is no government corruption in the US. The thrust of my post was that there is a correlation between this movie and Korean culture. There is corruption wherever you go, but I stand by my argument that it is still quite pervasive in Korea. Korea consistently ranks poorly on corruption indices, notably those of Transparency International, coming in at number 43 in the 2007 Corruption Perceptions Index. A survey of global business leaders, completed by the same organization, show that 47% believe that corruption will increase in Korea in the next three years while only 34% believe it will go in the other direction. The relationship between Korean politicians and mobsters/gangsters is historically well documented, and I believe it is this history from which the movie draws its inspiration, if not source material.

  4. Raven Says:

    With all due respect, I stand by my initial assessment. Crooked cops and gangsters work hand-in-hand all over the world, and politicians are corrupt everywhere. I didn’t see anything in this movie that couldn’t translate quite well to virtually any major urban center in any country. So, while the movie may accurately reflect the corruption in Korean society, I still maintain that it doesn’t reflect anything specific to Korean culture only.

    I’m quite eager to see what DiCaprio will do with his role in the remake.

  5. JT Says:

    LOL Raven, articulated like a true attorney! Ever thought about going to law school? I’ve liked everything I’ve heard so far…

  6. Raven Says:

    LOL. I have close relatives and several friends who are lawyers, but I don’t think I’d make a good lawyer myself. But maybe I’ve picked up some arguing skills. 🙂

  7. boyscout Says:

    I think it’s actually based on a real life case in Korea. That’s what ties it to the culture.

    The Koreans are really good at this kind of moody downer thriller that’s based on a real story (like Voice of a murderer or Memories of murder – both excellent films).

    Resurrection is indeed great. The guy was awesome as a the popcorn munching detective. I’d love to read your post about that series. It’s my all time fav pretty much.

  8. Raven Says:

    Yes, the popcorn-munching detective! I really liked that character. And I keep meaning to write the Resurrection post and not getting around to it.

    I haven’t seen either Voice of a Murderer or Memories of Murder, although I’ve heard of both. I’ll have to try to see them.

  9. boyscout Says:

    Speaking of K-movies.
    Lee Myung Se will be at USC on Sep 5.
    They’ll have a Q&A with him and also screen two of his films, Duelist and M.
    Not his best work, but it should be a very cool event.

  10. Raven Says:

    Lemme go ahead and announce that on here (which will also help me continue to procrastinate on putting up the other posts I should have put up this month :p).


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