ABC Film Challenge – Favourites – C – The Chaser (2008) Movie Review

The Chaser – Gritty, Dark & Disturbing


Director: Hong-jin Na

Writer: Won-Chan Hong, Shinho Lee, Hong-jin Na (Screenplay)

Starring: Kim Yoon-seok, Hung-woo Ha, Yeong-hie Seo, Yoo-Jeong Kim, In-gi Jeong

Plot: A disgraced ex-policeman who runs a small ring of prostitutes finds himself in a race against time when one of his women goes missing.

Tagline – The hunter and the hunted, the ultimate chase begins

Runtime: 2 Hour 5 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Story: The Chaser starts as we meet former detective turned pimp Joong-ho Eom (Yoon-seok) who arranges the girls, but will get hands on with anyone who abuses his girls, putting their safety first, his style has seen him falling behind and when some of his girls have gone missing, he starts to investigate the truth.

When Joong-ho catches the killer Young-min Jee (Ha), he faces a new race against time to save the missing girl Mi-jin Kim (Seo) that Young-min isn’t will to give up the information about, despite having the police constantly on the attack looking for the truth.

Thoughts on The Chaser

Characters & Performances – Joong-ho Eom is a small time pimp, with his girls getting treated differently to others in the industry, he is a former detective as will use his connection when needed and he will take on and punish anyone who hurts the girls he has working for him. When his girls start going missing, he goes into detective mode to track them down, where he catches the person behind it, but is left trying to figure out where the latest victim is, to reunite her child with them. He will not stop until he finds her and he is willing to hurt anyone that holds back the truth. Kim Yoon-seok does show us just how far someone will go when they are pushed to the limits. Young-min Jee is the killer, he calls up prostitutes where he uses the time to kill them, he has been caught but isn’t given away the information about where he has committed these crimes, keeping everything secret, so his latest victim will die, a sick a twisted man that is always ready to make people pay. Jung-woo Ha gives us a very cold character that will not stop and is always planning something in his head. Mi-jin Kim is the prostitute that is taken by Young-min Jee, locked up and beaten, she spends most of the film tied up waiting or thinking how to escape. The supporting cast in the film are all wonderful, showing us just how dark and desperate this world created has become.

StoryThe story here follows a former detective turned pimp that must track down a killer who is killing his girls and find the latest victim before it is too late. This story shows us how someone searching for the truth will go to extreme lengths to make sure he finds it, going into a dark place to take on a killer that isn’t willing to give up any information, knowing he is in a race against time to save a life. The story is gritty, filled with twists about who is involved and by the end will leave you exhausted.

ThemesThe Chaser brings us into a cat-n-mouse like world, with a killer looking to stay ahead of the man trying to catch him and save his victim. We get plenty of running action sequences, through the tight streets, trying to capture potential suspects, before we learn the truth, with the tension being ramped up by the race against time to save the missing girl. We don’t hold back on the violence which will be shown in every blow. The setting of the big city, works, with the housing area being very tight streets, leaves everything in a race against time, with many different options.

Final ThoughtsThe Chaser is a dark disturbing crime thriller that doesn’t hold back on anything.

ABC Film Challenge – Horror – L – Lakeview Terrace (2008) Movie Review

Director: Neil LaBute

Writer: David Loughery, Howard Korder (Screenplay) David Loughery (Story)

Starring: Samuel L Jackson, Patrick Wilson, Kerry Washington, Ron Glass, Justin Chambers, Jay Hernandez, Regine Nehy

Plot: Based on a true story, a troubled and racist African-American L.A.P.D. Officer will stop at nothing to force out a friendly interracial couple who just moved in next door to him.

Tagline – What could be safer than living next to a cop?

Runtime: 1 Hour 50 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: Slow Burning Thriller

Story: Lakeview Terrace starts when couple Chris (Wilson) and Lisa (Washington) move into their new home, one of their neighbours is widowed cop Abel Turner (Jackson) isn’t keen on having a mixed-race couple next door to him, starting by teasing Chris.

When Abel continues to clash with Chris, the games start to become more targeted, with damage to property and with Abel using his power of being on the side of the law, it makes it very difficult to deal with the neighbour from hell.

Thoughts on Lakeview Terrace

Characters – Abel is a widowed father and police officer, he has very strict rules for his children to follow, which is pushing them away from him, when he see the mixed-race couple move in next door, he doesn’t like them in anyway and always finds a way to get back at time, if they do something that he doesn’t like. His action and position of power make him feel like he could get away with anything. Chris the husband in the couple, being white he attracts the attention of Abel who takes an instant dislike towards him, his temper doesn’t help as when he clashes with Abel, he doesn’t handle it in the best way and his constant seeking approval from his wife father only adds pressure to him. Lisa is the wife that spends a lot more of the time in the home, she wants to be a good neighbour and be open for the children next door, only for her desire to start her own family being stronger desire to future. Harold is the father of Lisa that has always looked down on Chris, and wanted more for his daughter.

PerformancesSamuel L Jackson is very unsettling through this film, we see just how demanding he wants to be through the film. Patrick Wilson is always strong in his roles in film, this is no different, while Kerry Washington holds her own in the mix, even if her character does seem to just be woman at home.

StoryThe story here does follow a couple that finds themselves living next door to the neighbour from hell, who wants to torment them because he doesn’t believe in mixed race couples. This does focus on the slow build of a neighbourly rivalry before it starts getting completely out of hand. It does show how people in a position of authority can abuse their power to make other people’s a living hell, which is what we see with everything that happens in this film, the couple are left feeling powerless when it comes to dealing with the neighbour. The pacing is slightly weaker because it does seem to show us how one minute they get on the next they hate each other, which just doesn’t add up to everything going on.

CrimeThe crime side of the film follows the actions of the law enforcement officer that does seem to just do what he wants believing the law with support him.

SettingsThe film keeps the settings in the neighbourhood, where we see just how the two must learn to get on even though they live next to each other and don’t like each other.

Scene of the Movie – Incoming fire.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – Lisa does just seem to be female character or wife, while she makes a point about her job, but never seems to go to work.

Final Thoughts This is a simple thriller that does push the limits on how you would or could treat your neighbour.

Overall: Simple thriller.

ABC Film Challenge – Horror – J – Donkey Punch (2008) Movie Review

This is under J because of star Jaime Winstone.

Director: Olly Blackburn

Writer: Olly Blackburn (Screenplay)

Starring: Jaime Winstone, Sian Breckin, Nichola Burley, Robert Boulter, Tom Burke, Julian Morris, Jay Taylor

Plot: Things go drastically wrong for a group of British holidaymakers in Spain.

Tagline – This party is going overboard

Runtime: 1 Hour 39 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: Tension Filled Horror

Story: Donkey Punch starts as we meet our three women, Lisa (Breckin), Kim (Winstone) and Tammi (Burley) who is trying to get over an ex, having a girlie holiday in Spain, the three women meet four young men Sean (Boulter), Bluey (Burke), Josh (Morris) and Marcus (Taylor) who have their own yacht for the weekend, which sees the seven out to the open ocean for a party.

When the drunks have flown too much, mixed with the drugs, a sex session starts, with one of the guys trying something known as a donkey punch, which ends up killing one of the girls. The guys want to cover this up, while the girls are willing to fight back to stay alive.

Thoughts on Donkey Punch

Characters – Tammi is the girl that is trying to have a break from her life back home, she has just got out of a bad relationship, looking to have some fun with her friends, the one who is reluctant to go on the yacht and the one that doesn’t get as involved with the drinking and drugs, the voice of reason once things go wrong. Kim and Lisa are the two who want to go on the yacht and have a party, they are up for anything and everything, which leads to what goes wrong, though it isn’t their fault, they don’t show the support you would expect to see from friends helping their friend. The guys are all up for a party, they don’t care what happens that much willing to let the drinks and drugs mix without worrying about the consequences, until something goes wrong, when they will do anything to cover up what one of them did.

PerformancesThis film doesn’t have the truly strongest cast, we have the party performances, while the male actors are trying to act tough, while the women are showing us how they want to fight back or do the right thing.

StoryThe story follows three women that join four men on a yacht for a party, when after the drugs and drinks get out of control, one of the women gets killed and the tensions to cover up the death, shows how far people will go to save their own reputations. This is a story that focuses more on seeing how people will react to a situation, whether it is an accident or not on whether to do the right thing or sort out their own mess they have created. The characters are painted to be generic, with the men being all macho, while the women are written to not show a single sign of caution, that are willing to force their heartbroken friend into a position where they couldn’t say no. it does fall into the survival of the fittest when it comes to trying to stay ahead of the threat around them.

Crime/HorrorThe crime side of the film starts with an accident, which soon turns into how each character sees that action, which leads to murderous consequences in a horror filled race to stay ahead of each other.

SettingsThe film is set on one yacht in the middle of the ocean, it shows that the characters can’t run away or call for help and that money doesn’t give people the smartest brains.

Scene of the Movie – Life raft.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – The plain characters.

Final Thoughts This is a film that shows the human condition once things go wrong in a situation and how they will always react in the worst possible way.

Overall: Horror that is waiting for people to do things wrong.

Jean-Claude Van Damme Weekend – The Shepherd (2008) Movie Review

Director: Isaac Florentine

Writer: Joe Gayton, Cade Courtley (Screenplay)

Starring: Jean-Claude Van Damme, Stephen Lord, Natalie J Robb, Gary McDonald, Daniel Perrone, Scott Adkins, Andree Bernard

Plot: A former New Orleans cop battles drug cartels and ex-Army Special Forces who are smuggling drugs from Mexico into U.S. through a Texas border town.

Tagline – Welcome To Mexico

Runtime: 1 Hour 35 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: Van Damme 101

Story: The Shepherd starts when a former New Orleans cop Jack Robideaux (Van Damme) gets a new job as a border control officer under Captain Ramona Garcia (Robb), he gets told to keep his head down, which lasts a couple of hours, given a new partner in Billy Pawnell (McDonald), Jack does get a big bust early on in his career.

With Jack around it only ends up crossing criminal smuggler Benjamin Meyer (Lord) who wants to make this battle personal, trying to put his own business back in, can Jack figure out who to trust within the force.

Thoughts on The Shepherd

Characters – Jack Robideaux has left New Orleans to starts a new job on border control, he wants to keep his head down, but struggles with this, he starts tackling the problems in New Mexico, which sees himself getting targeted, even though he has his own reasons for being part of the patrol. Benjamin Meyer is the man smuggling across the border, an ex-military man who knows how to recruit the strong people around him, he is confident he can either buy or kill his way out of any situation. Captain Ramona Garcia runs the border patrol team, she welcomes are warns Jack about the area, she doesn’t want any attention on her team, which sees her challenging Jack from his first few days. Billy Pawnell is the agent that becomes Jack’s partner, trying to keep his head down after he gets in trouble early on, considered one of the best on the force, a perfect guide for a new member of the team.

PerformancesJean-Claude Van Damme is just an action star that does everything right for an action film, with his fighting skills taking him to centre stage. Sadly, the rest of the cast just don’t get enough time to make a big impact on the story, its not that they are bad, they just don’t have much to do.

StoryThe story here follows a newly appointed border patrol officer that gets into a battle with ruthless smugglers that have been controlling the borders for years. When it comes to the action in a Van Damme movie, we know the story isn’t going to be that deep, while we know there is going to be something behind the motivation for the career change, which there is. The good versus the bad is everything we have seen before, we know there will be twists along the way which works out well for the film.

Action/CrimeThe action comes when we let Van Damme loose to fight, where he will face a younger enemy played by Scott Adkins for the big fight scene, anything to stop the criminal actions being handed out by the cartel gang.

SettingsThe film is set in New Mexico right on the border, which does see how the criminal world would be operating.

Scene of the Movie – Van Damme versus Adkins.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – It is easy to see the twists coming.

Final Thoughts This is a by the book action film that does everything it needed to without challenging the audience in anyway.

Overall: By the book action.

Adam Sandler Weekend – You Don’t Mess with the Zohan (2008) Movie Review

Director: Dennis Dugan

Writer: Adam Sandler, Robert Smigel, Judd Apatow (Screenplay)

Starring: Adam Sandler, John Turturro, Emmanuelle Chriqui, Nick Swardson, Lainie Kazan, Ido Mosseri, Rob Schneider

Plot: An Israeli Special Forces Soldier fakes his death so he can re-emerge in New York City as a hair stylist.

Tagline – He’ll blow you away

Runtime: 1 Hour 53 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: Insulting

Story: You Don’t Mess with the Zohan starts when Israeli Special Forces Soldier Zohan (Sandler) is getting tired of the same old battles where he captures the terrorist only to see the government to trade them, when his greatest enemy Phantom (Turturro) has been released he uses the encounter to fake his death and follow his dream.

Zohan travels to New York to become a hairdresser using the name Scrappy Coco he wants to work in the biggest salon in the city, but gets laughed out, now he needs to bring his style to the city and learning about his people’s own problems.

Thoughts on You Don’t Mess with the Zohan

Characters – Zohan was once the top agent in the Israeli Special Forces he has always captured the terrorist even after the country has released them after he caught them. He does dream of being a hairdresser which his family sees as a disgrace, he fakes his death so he can head to New York to start a fresh as a hairdresser, where he saves a small business with his true style. Phantom is the greatest enemy of Zohan who always gets traded and always plans his next action, which sees him claiming his fame after Zohan faking his death. Dalia is trying to keep her small salon open and once she gives Scrappy a chance her business booms cleaning her debts out. Michael is the first person that helps Zohan in America and offers him a place to stay.

PerformancesAdam Sandler does hit what seems like an almost insulting in the leading role, just playing into the stereotypes of any Israeli person. John Turturro is the same even if his role is smaller, while Emmanuelle Chriqui doesn’t help herself standout in the supporting role. Most of the cast is terrible through the film never hitting the heights of their roles.

StoryThe story here follows an Israeli soldier that wants to hairdresser meaning he will need to leave his home and start in a new life in America, where his past comes back to haunt him. This is by far one of the most insulting stories you will ever see, it tries to play along the lines of the American dream is available for anybody. We get plenty of awful racist stereotypes being played out towards anybody from Israel which is used more often or not for political gain rather than actually story. This is typical awful Sandler story.

ComedyThe comedy is in the middle of the racist and insulting towards the Israeli people that should never have gotten any laughs.

SettingsThe film is in New York where we see how small communities are trying to make a living, despite having disagreements behind them.

Scene of the Movie – End credits because it was over.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – Everything else.

Final Thoughts This is a pure insult to comedy and cinema that should never have even been made.

Overall: Awful from Start to Finish.