American Fable is ambitious, maybe too much so sometimes, but there's an intense pleasure in the boldness of the film's style.
"The Chaser" is an expert serial-killer film from South Korea and a poster child for what a well-made thriller looked like in the classic days. Its principal chase scene involves a foot race through the deserted narrow nighttime streets of Seoul. No exploding cars. The climax is the result of everything that has gone before. Not an extended fight scene. This is drama, and it is interesting. Action for its own sake is boring.
The film is a police procedural with a difference: The hero is an ex-cop named Jung-ho (Kim Yoon-seok), now a pimp, and he is not a nice man. He is angered because a client of his call-girl service has been, he believes, kidnapping his girls and selling them. When another girl disappears, a phone number raises an alarm. He then sets out to track down the client -- who didn't give an address but arranged a street rendezvous.
What we know is that the client, Je Yeong-min (Ha Jung-woo), is a sadistic murderer. The girl, named Kim Mi-jin (Seo Young-hee), is driven in his car to an obscure address, which she is not intended to ever leave alive. It is a characteristic of South Korean films that they display the grisly details of violence without flinching; the rights to this film have been picked up by Warner Bros., and it's dead certain the violence and the shocking outcome itself will be greatly toned down. Let me simply note that Young-min's tools of choice are a hammer and a chisel, for reasons a police psychiatrist has much to say about.
The film's structure is relentless in maintaining suspense. We have reason to suspect the prostitute might still be alive, but dying. Both the pimp and the killer are arrested. A ludicrous attack on the mayor of Seoul becomes a media sensation and puts pressure on the cops to charge someone with something to change the headlines. The killer, a calm psychopath, claims nine murders, then 12, but changes his story and says he has no idea what he did with the bodies. He's released on lack of evidence.