There is something about ‘grumpy’ and ‘old’, isn’t there? A synopsis that chooses to call attention to the harrumphing nature of a lead character is an intriguing one.
Grumpy is fun, either in its target or to be punctured by others.
Korean film The Chase has a grumpy landlord whose world is rattled by a series of seemingly random deaths among his working class tenants.
What Is The Chase About?
Deok-su (Baek Yoon-sik) is a sour puss, alright. He shuffles from apartment to apartment with his hand out for rent, unmoved by excuses such as workplace injury to explain the tardiness.
But when a retired cop tenant opines that some recent deaths bear the hallmark of a serial killer he used to track, Deok-su quickly finds himself a pariah.
Yoon-sik is a charismatic lead. The crotchy old man schtick gives licence to some amusing grumbling and the huffs and puffs of age.
He exhibits someone who has had the patience driven out of them by life which crucially keeps him from becoming entirely unsympathetic.
He is also wisely teamed up with retired but energetic cop Detective Pyung-Dal. Pyung-Dal (Sung Dong-il, Pirates: The Last Royal Treasure) arrives to annoy the heck out of Deok-su with his exuberant attitude, dragging him along through an unsanctioned investigation.
The Chase Trailer
Is The Chase Worth Watching?
Although these two leads fill the screen with ramshackle japes, there is a tonal clash with the horrible deaths they keep stumbling upon. Slashed throats and decapitated heads overlay a gory air on top of an otherwise elderly comedy and the two don’t always mesh.
Similarly, The Chase, has little in the way of cinematic direction. It could easily have been a limited series with all the nonsense cut out rather than a full theatrical release. The propensity to shocking blood-soaked moments would have benefitted from an injection of cinematographic flair.
Pyung-Dal and Deok-su’s ramshackle investigation is a fun one, if lacking in surprises. A general dearth of fleshed out characters keeps the suspect pool rather small, making it a case of ‘how’ the crimes are proved rather than ‘when’.
Yet the threat is well delivered and some edge of the seat scenes keep you guessing as to whether these men of advanced years will be able to survive.
There is a lot of good material in The Chase. With a more inventive camera, dramatic staging and (let’s face it) bigger budget, the whole package could have been an artful ode to ageing, redemption, and mental health.
Instead it skims along on the surface level, kept afloat by superb performances from Yoon-sik and Dong-il. As an old British sit-com theme would say: “It’s true that my body has seen better days / but give me half a chance and I can still misbehave…”
Words by Mike Record