Magnolia Pictures // 2009 // 122 Minutes // Rated R
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // April 29th, 2011
When the hunter becomes the hunted.
Don't trust your first impressions when you set eyes on this disc: Chawz is not a horror movie. It is a comedy. And a surprisingly funny one at that. Until...
In a set-up not dissimilar to Hot Fuzz, we meet an over-achieving cop in the big city of Seoul who's dispatched to a reclusive, rural town that enjoys next to no crime. However, on the eve of the town's major tourist event, some strange killings begin going down across the countryside. A bit of investigating reveals that an unnaturally large wild boar has taken to the taste of human meat and is chowing down on any hapless, juicy passerby he may run across.
Chawz has the ingredients of a run-of-the-mill creature feature and the disc case marketing appears to encourage that impression. But it won't take you long to realize that this enterprise is as tongue-in-cheek as it gets. From the opening moments, when nearly every member of the disorganized town police force rolls down a hill and lands in the crime scene to our first introduction to our protagonist's overbearing, pregnant wife and mentally unstable mother straight to the appearance of Chawz himself in all of his alpha male boar glory, nothing is ever taken seriously. Not even the gore, which is relegated to after-the-fact prop work played for laughs.
Even though this is not a creature-fueled horror outing, props need to be offered up to the Chawz creation. He's virtually all CGI, and though the tech may not up the levels of ILM, I found the effects to be successful. Like the game-plan dictates, Chawz is hidden from our view for the first half of the film, but he makes a grand entrance at a hilariously awkward rap concert arranged by the town. We get eyefuls of the creation running amok and causing damage and it's all pretty believable. Sure, a mutant wild board isn't as sexy as a Chevy Camaro that transforms into a robot from space, but for the purposes of this film, I hereby award a big fat gold star to the Chawz animators.
Alas, as much as I got on board with this in the beginning, a major impasse presented itself, ultimately emaciating the fun: the runtime. Chawz clocks in at a shade north of two hours, which is thirty minutes too long. It's a saggy runtime too, with disposable side stories woven in that fail to amuse and only pad the clock. What made the film so nifty was its energy and oddball, quickfire humor. This is largely neutralized by the 70 minute mark, leaving only the anticipation of the requisite Final Monster Face-Off to keep the interest level out.
Too bad. Twenty minutes in, I was ready to proclaim the glory of Chawz to the heavens. Now, I can only give it a half-hearted recommendation and mainly for its oddity factor.
Gorgeous Blu-ray from Magnolia, anchored by the high-end 1.85:1, 1080p transfer, a case-study in how to treat an import -- as bizarre as this one may be -- with reverence. The detailing pops from the screen and the boar effects, the most susceptible to a dodgy appearance in boosted resolution, even look great. The impressive picture quality is augmented by a crisp, well-mapped 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio mix (English and Korean). Extras: an hour-long, multi-part making-of featurette (in SD, unfortunately), deleted scenes, bloopers and a Q&A at the premiere.
My surprise and delight were eventually neutered. You were close guys.
I'll save the obvious pun for the end. I was boared.
Review content copyright © 2011 David Johnson; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2014 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
Studio: Magnolia Pictures
* 1.85:1 Non-Anamorphic (1080p)
* DTS HD 5.1 Master Audio (English)
* DTS HD 5.1 Master Audio (Korean)
* English (SDH)
Running Time: 122 Minutes
Release Year: 2009
MPAA Rating: Rated R
* Deleted Scenes