Jeong-taek (played by Kim Jung-tae) is a disheveled cop who doesn't project authority. He's trying to collar corporate criminal Seung-joo (played by Kim Seung-woo), who is much cooler and much more obviously competent. Eventually they both get thrown through the ringer as Won-tae (played by Hyuk) and his gang of teenage hoodlums make fools of them both, prompting an epic chase throughout Seoul.
In all fairness Won-tae's gang of teenage renegades aren't actually hoodlums. They just seem that way because of the most critical problem in "Chasing"- a lack of proper exposition. We don't actually know what's motivating Won-tae or any of his friends until the climax. That's a pretty insanely late point of the movie to be going over basic exposition, which would have made their actions a great deal more parsable had we been exposed to it sooner.
But then there's a lot of underdeveloped elements in the screenplay. Seung-joo's goons, apparently, have much more complex exposition than we were led to believe. There's that cameo by the person on the bicycle, whose face we never see, who is implied to be important but never does anything. Are either Jeong-taek or Seung-joo married? It's not really clear, since women who could be their wives only show up very briefly. Even their backstory is a big question mark, since we see one scene where Jeong-taek and Won-tae are kids and their past relationship is never elaborated on any further than that.
About the only place where "Chasing" goes into much significant detail is with the action and the comedy scenes, which is fortunate since "Chasing" is indeed an action comedy. The action is pretty decent- it's in the whole "single guy beats the snot out of a bunch of idiot mooks" variety, that single guy mostly being Seung-joo. Yes, I know he is the crooked CEO and this is a bit counter-intuitive since we'd expect the cop to be the better fighter but again, Jeong-taek is a bit of a dork, so his main purpose is to provide comedic banter.
Which I did like. It's not, like, tremendously funny or anything but I just liked the little arguments that Jeong-taek and Seung-joo got into every time they needed to decide on a course of action and one of them (usually Jeong-taek) screws it up in some comical way. "Chasing" is at its best when its characters are failing somehow, because that's the main thing Jeong-taek, Seung-joo, and Won-tae have in common. They all think they're hot stuff, for completely different reasons and with varying degrees of accuracy, so it's gratifying watching them be shut down by something completely mundane.
But passable action comedy flick though it may be, the attempts "Chasing" makes toward the sentimental are too half-hearted to have much effect, ultimately making the movie an unfocused disappointment. On some level I can admire director Oh In-chun's confidence, including a sequel hook and even a demonstration of the action scenes were shot in the credits. Much as is the case with the main characters, though, confidence can only get you so far.
Review by William Schwartz
Available on DVD from YESASIA and streaming from Amazon
DVD (En Sub)
Staff writer. Has been writing articles for HanCinema since 2012, having lived in South Korea since 2011. Started out in Gyeongju, then to Daegu, then to Ansan, then to Yeongju, then to Seoul, lived on the road for HanCinema's travel diaries series in the summer of 2016, and is currently settled in Anyang. Has good tips for utilizing South Korea's public bus system. William Schwartz can be contacted via firstname.lastname@example.org.
"[HanCinema's Film Review] "Chasing""
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