Friday, November 11, 2011

Chawz (2009)

A boar in an un-boring small town

This is a comedy first and foremost with offbeat characters and more humor of the situational variety than the gross or perverted kind. Even during supposed serious scenes this still injects a certain amount of humor to play light on cruelty and misfortune. It's a B movie that's actually taken with a bit of merit: steadily paced instead of rushed, along with developed characters that have a share of individual personality than playing catch up or using the medium as a stepping stone. It's definitely a refreshing surprise from a country you wouldn't expect it to come out of.

In a reportedly crimeless village in South Korea, a man's grave is dug up. Little do they know that another man stumbled into it first but got taken away and killed by some mysterious thing. Meanwhile, a traffic cop named Kim Kang-soo gets transferred out of the major city of Seoul to the small village of Sam-mae-ri with more eccentric residents than he can keep up with, including his own delusional mother and on-edge, pregnant wife that he brought along. Soon enough they find some scattered body parts and have a murder investigation on their hands headed by the new hot shot, klepto, shades-at-night detective named Shin that bosses around the incompetent police captain who's more talk than show except when it comes to berrating his own men.

A Mr. Chun--who used to be an expert hunter and who's granddaughter was recently taken--claims it was an animal. The police suggest to close down the organic farming weekend for the investigation but the town's chief is having none of it as it might scare away visitors--"Jaws" anyone? Soon enough their mysterious murderer turns out to be a hulking, wild boar that's now so out of control that it brazenly attacks someone in broad daylight and with everyone around. A special hunting team is called in headed by the renowned Baek Man-bae along with his Finnish men and the chase is on to capture or kill the beast who's acquired a ravenous taste for human flesh. But that might not have been the biggest of their problems, which causes a motley crew of town's people to do what the up-to-their-ears-in-political-moves officials couldn't and put a stop to the crisis. That or get hurt trying.

As a creature feature "Chawz" doesn't stick out as a prominent special effects picture--the CGI beast is detailed to an extent but not always the main showcase--or an entirely in-your-face violent one either. Even its action scenes are kept more realistic to keep it humorous and relatable to the average person than grossly cinematic and over-the-top. This still manages to provide a share of excitement and thrills with some chase scenes that feel worked out than running back and forth like a typical survival film. It sifts through the ones that pretended versus the ones that actually have it in them. The heroes are made to purposely stumble and run away fearful but also to find some strength when opportunity calls to possibly win the upper hand.

This is a story that progressively escalates and at the same time it manages to steadily keep up with its array of characters that get a share of memorable screen time anywhere from the town witch to the drunk that now gets to prove himself instead of shamelessly letting go of who he once was. "Chawz" is definitely a fun movie that takes the participation route with its various adventures, characters and recallable scenarios that make you feel like you're there. It's a two hour film that could have been longer since you're now accustomed to the people like long lost relatives. Even the monster goes back and forth between terrorizing the people to feeling sorry for it as it might have been a product of human encroachment. They laugh, yell and get excited for better or worse at the same time as you and go through a learning process as to how to solve the exceptional predicament with some trial and error theories. Not to mention what it all means to the small town with a name that possibly has more hypocrisy to work out than a wild boar on the loose could have entirely resolved.

Rating: 8.5/10

Director: Jeong-won Shin (Sisily 2km)
Link: IMDB

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