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Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Chawz, in Which Pigs Get Some Sweet, Sweet Revenge

Share on Tumblr By Craig R.

Jaws, and a select few other monster movies, was very effective because for much of the film, the shark was never seen, leaving much to the imagination. The Andy Griffith Show was great because it was about a competent Sheriff surrounded by small town eccentrics. Chawz, a South Korean (I'm not sure if there's any other kind of Korean film) film that effectively borrows more than a few elements from both of those classics, as well as others (Roger Corman productions, Predator).

Not Appearing in this film

This film is about a rural Korean village, Sam-Re-Me, that dubs itself "The village without crime", that has a series of animal attacks. It so happens that at the same time the town is promoting itself to bring in tourists to harvest their "organic" crops. As in Jaws, town leaders want the attacks covered up. I'm going to continue under the assumption that anyone reading this has seen Jaws, so "as in Jaws" should be implied whenever an element of the plot is mentioned (in case you've never seen Jaws, go here). At about this time, Officer Kim Kang-Soo is transferred to town, from Seoul. He wound up there, because as a joke, he wrote "anywhere" on a transfer request. He moves there with his wife, and somewhat eccentric, possibly demented, mother. He is what I'd consider the Andy Griffith character in this film. With the exception of Kim, and Inspector Shin (who never removes his sunglasses), the rest of the police force, including the Captain are Barney Fife types.

 Nope, him neither
It turns out that the creature in question is is a seemingly indestructible, man-eatingmutant boar. After several attacks, professional hunters are brought in to track it down. Of course they kill a pig that turns out to be the wrong one. The deceased turns out to be the mate of our man eater.

After the boar attacks a celebration at the town hall, an expedition is formed to track it down. The party is led by two big game hunters Chun Il-Man (a retired legend, and the grandfather of one of the victims) and Baek Man-Bae (the estranged, glory-seeking protégé of Chun). It also includes Byun Soo-Ryun, a Biologist, as well as Kim, and Shin. Kim's mother even tags along for a while. Once they get into the mountains, events occur that turn them from being the hunters, to the hunted.

There are several attempts to kill it, which of course fail. There rea couple of long chases, where it chases our protagonists. The climax, and epilogue are reminiscent of other creature features, but different enough to be unique. Stick around until the credits roll, there is an amusing extra scene.

I thoroughly enjoyed this film. There is quite a bit of humor in almost every scene, making it a great black comedy. Most of the characters are pretty well fleshed-out, and interesting. The eccentric villagers, even one who randomly appears, seemingly, just for the sake of weirdness, are all thoroughly so.

The effects, even the CGI pigs, are all quite effective. There is a more than sufficient amount of carnage, and most of the attacks, where the boar makes a kill, leave much to the imagination. It is also beautifully shot, and there is excellent character interaction.

This film does seem to have a couple messages, though not heavily played. A suspected origin of the mutant pigs is that they resulted from experiments performed by the Japanese military during World War II. This continues a theme that I've noticed in many Asian films, from countries that were occupied by Japan. They often take subtle jabs at that nation, as causing the problem, as is the case here, or as villains, as in a couple of Bruce Lee's films. Also, Byun suggests that the pigs have come down from the mountains because of deforesting done for farming. One could also interpret the attempts to cover up the attacks as a jab at corruption.

This is a great film, in which couldn't find any major flaws, or annoyances. The dialogue is in Korean, with subtitles. It is Rated-R (language and violence), and run time is 2 hours, 1 minute, and is available on Netflix Instant.

I give it four, out of four, mutant pigs.

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