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DVD Review

DVD cover



Starring: Tae-woong Eom, Yoon Jae-Moon and Josiah D. Lee
Optimum Home Entertainment
RRP: £15.99
Certificate: 15
Available 01 March 2010

A policeman from Seoul, Korea is transferred to a small community in the hills. The town is proudly crime-free, but expecting an excruciatingly slow pace, he is surprised to find a young and conceited detective investigating the circumstances leading up to the discovery of some mutilated bodies. Partway into a murder investigation it becomes apparent that they are looking for a large and savage animal. The detective hires a well-known hunter trained in Finland, but when faced with a huge boar he turns out to be somewhat less than a hero. The boar is killed and publicly shown to much media acclaim. However, an old and grizzled local hunter convinces the newly arrived policeman that the boar responsible is significantly larger, and he is proved correct when it attacks the packed town hall during a celebration, looking for its mate. The policeman and the hunter set up an expedition to track down the monster, but they discover that conventional bullets simply bounce from its ultra-thick hide...

The promotional blurb from Optimum Home Entertainment cites The Host as an influence in the new wave of Asian (and in particular, Korean) monster movies. I remember seeing The Host at a cinema in the Trocadero Piccadilly Circus and not quite knowing what to make of it. It was certainly more of a monster movie in the traditional Godzilla respect.

Chaw follows a natural animal's (albeit a gargantuan one) exploits, and so has a closer connection to something like Razorback. It's intelligently directed in the early scenes, wherein only tantalisingly brief glimpses are shown, but it also holds-up when seen in its entirety for the first time when breaking through the wall into the town hall. Subsequent appearances when charging or chasing are well-rendered in CGI.

The characters are well-defined; I particularly liked the inclusion of the policeman's mother, who clearly suffers with mental problems and proves increasingly unpredictable. On top of that the woman next door is deranged, looking after a doll like a baby and neglecting the little boy in her charge. The police captain is lazy and weak-stomached, the detective is vain, and the elderly hunter dark and resentful. Only the newly arrived policeman appears in any way normal. But such is life, and it does work well.

The humour is another matter; when subtly applied and kept dry it succeeds in spades, but a little too often it reduces itself to the school playground, becoming very childish and slapstick. So the tone switches constantly from suspenseful to lightly comedic without ever getting the balance quite right. Nevertheless, it's an enjoyable evening's viewing.


Ty Power

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