“Is there such a thing as a man-eating boar?”
Chaw is a Korean monster movie from 2009, very similar in tone to the fantastic The Host. While Chaw isn’t as good a movie as The Host, it is still a hugely enjoyable movie. Having said that, if Spielberg or anyone involved with Jaws watches the first half of this movie, the makers of Chaw could find themselves in court!
The village of Sameri in South Korea prides itself in being “a crimeless village” Police officer Kim is transferred to Sameri just as partially devoured bodies start appearing. It soon becomes apparent that a killer boar is responsible. The village elders are worried these events will put an end to their local fair & stop “the townies” coming there to buy their produce. So they hire a famous hunter to kill the boar. The hunter returns with a dead boar but it soon becomes obvious this isn’t the offending boar. It is then left to Kim, the hunter, a detective, an old hunter & an environmental activist to head into the woods to hunt down the killer boar.
Chaw is just a hugely enjoyable monster movie. While it’s not as good as The Host it still entertains. It does share the same comedic touches as The Host but lacks the humanities that elevate The Host. As I mentioned previously, Chaw shall we say “borrows” heavily from Jaws in the first hour of the movie. This isn’t a bad thing as it allows the story to develop & draw you in. The movie is an ensemble piece & while no one excels the acting is good throughout. The characters are an interesting bunch, although the police chief is a tad too OTT for my tastes, fortunately he is very much a secondary character & isn’t on-screen too much. There is also a very strange woman in the movie who crops up from time to time & appears in a bizarre epilogue. The real star of the film is obviously the boar itself. A mixture of CGI & animatronics it is on the whole impressive. Some of the CGI is a little patchy, especially during the movies climax when the boar is seen in full charge. The movie is light on blood & gore which suits the style & tone of the movie.
There isn’t much more I can say about this movie. It is just a simple old-fashioned monster movie. It sets out to entertain & does just that.
“If I pour them in the drain, they’ll run into the Han River”
The Host is a Korean monster movie from 2006, two years before the over-hyped & frankly god-awful Cloverfield & is far superior in every way. Directed by Bong Joon-ho, The Host manages to be part monster movie, part comedy, part emotional family drama & completely brilliant as a whole. There is so much going on in The Host that in the hands of a lesser director it would have been a mess. As it is Bong Joon-ho balances the moods of the movie perfectly. As much as The Host is a thrill ride monster movie, it is also a movie about the human condition & most importantly family.
The movie begins with an American scientist ordering his Korean subordinate to empty over 200 bottles of formaldehyde down the drain (& consequently straight into The Han River) Over the next few years there are several reports of strange fish in The Han River. On the riverbank Park Gang-du works with his father Hee-bong in a snack bar. Also with them are his sister Nam-joo, a silver medal archer, his brother Nam-il & his daughter Hyun-seo. The seemingly dim-witted Park Gang-du is delivering food at the river’s edge when he, along with a small crowd witness a large creature drop from The Wonhyo Bridge into the river. After initially disappearing under the water when the crowd start to throw food at it, it re-emerges on the riverbank & causes a panic. The creature runs through the park snatching up & devouring at least one unfortunate soul before it snatches Hyun-seo & dives back in the river. The government arrive & place the area under quarantine, claiming that the creature is also host to a deadly virus. Whilst in quarantine, Park Gang-du gets a call from Hyun-seo, who is alive but trapped in a sewer. The call is cut short as Hyun-seo’s mobile runs out of battery charge. So Park Gang-du & the rest of the family escape & head back to the river to rescue Hyun-seo.
A truly wonderful film, The Host is everything the likes of Godzilla (The American one) & Cloverfield should have been. The Host itself is a great & unique looking creature. Looking like a fish/tadpole chimera it manages to look organic & is able to appear right at the beginning of the movie in broad daylight, which in the monster movie genre is quite rare. The scene of chaos by the riverbank as the creature runs amok is stunning. Bong Joon-ho really captures the ensuing panic brilliantly. Once the first frantic fifteen minutes of the film is over Bong Joon-ho brings the human element to the story. The family’s journey throughout the movie, is at times funny & at others incredibly poignant. The entire cast is perfect, with extra praise going to the two child actors in the movie who truly convey a real sense of terror.
The crime here is that movies like The Host get very limited theatrical releases yet appalling movies like Cloverfield get nationwide releases & huge advertising budgets. It may seem like I’m picking on Cloverfield, that’s because I am. Cloverfield is in the same genre of movie as The Host & was made at a similar time. yet that is where the similarity ends. Cloverfield has no plot, bad acting, horrible shaky cam & a truly awful creature that doesn’t look at all real. Coupled with the ridiculous plot flaws (did it tiptoe up to the survivors in Central Park?) It stinks as a movie. Do yourself a favour, if you haven’t seen it, go rent The Host. A wonderful piece of cinema.