Chaw: Man Eating Creature(2009)
- RatedPG /GenreComedy, Thriller
Rating: 3 out of 5
In 2004, a giant wild boar, supposedly measuring nearly three metres long and nicknamed Hogzilla, was shot and killed in the American state of Georgia.
Filmmakers for the Korean horror-comedy film Chaw might have been inspired by that incident. Aptly described as Jaws-on-land, the story involves a malevolent boar of mythical proportions that invades the idyllic village of Sameri, a place untouched by crime and strife for more than 10 years.
Apparently aiming to emulate Bong Joon-ho’s wildly successful The Host (2006), and dubbing itself a “whole new creature movie”, Chaw takes a leaf out of the book of Jaws in its set-up and plot developments.
Just as in Steven Spielberg’s 1975 landmark shark thriller, director Shin Jung-won’s monster flick is based in a quiet little settlement where death and destruction are not only shocking, they’re unwelcome because they’re just bad for local tourism.
Prior to the bad boar’s intrusion, the village’s headman had been trying to bring economic prosperity to his community by promoting it as an ecotourism spot, a place for city-dwellers to engage in a spot of organic farming.
He is denial personified, as he continues to organise and promote these tours, even as evidence mounts that a man-eating boar is on the loose.
His hand is forced after a tourist is killed by the boar, named Chaw by the locals, and he hires a group of hunters led by a man named Baek (Yoon Je-mun) and his mentor Chun to dispose of the beast.
The expedition tracks down and kills a large boar, to the relief of the villagers. However, in one of the best moments of the film, the true Chaw shows up at a celebratory dinner and causes absolute pandemonium -- it is a classic scene of chaos endemic to monster movies.
In the aftermath, a motley group of villagers and outsiders come together to take care of the menace, once and for all. This more well-rounded hunting party includes a police officer, a detective, and a lady scientist (Jung Yu-mi) fascinated by the monster.
One criticism of this typical, connect-the-dots monster movie was that it had more characters than was really necessary. Furthermore, these characters consist mostly of stereotypes with quirky characteristics. The director spends a tad too much time trying to build up relationships between them.
The giant boar, presented it appears with a mix of animatronics and unimpressive CGI, should have been hidden as much as Spielberg’s Great White shark, because it occasionally looked unflatteringly like an overgrown Muppet.
Regardless, the film provides enough scares and brims with enough humour to entertain most audiences, though it will be hard pressed to match the success of The Host, Korea’s last real ‘monster’ hit.
Director Shin is not Bong Joon-ho and thus he never deviates far from genre conventions and clichés. Fortunately, the end result may feel familiar in many aspects, and may not amount to a major international score for its producers, but this is one boar movie that never bores.
About Yong Shu Chiang
Yong Shu Chiang, otherwise known as SC, is a freelance editor and writer. He reviewed movies for Juice magazine when he was in college, and was the resident film reviewer for Today Newspaper from 2003 to 2005. He has also reviewed movies for Prime Time Morning on Channel NewsAsia.
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