Boars are wild creatures and potentially a threat to human beings. Chaw (or Chawz, as it’s known in the US) is all about that fact. Sure, you do have some main human characters like Kim Kang-soo (Uhm Tae-woong), and some oddball characters thrown in. However, this movie’s really about a massive (albeit regional) pig hunt for a very big pig.
No, this boar did not escape from a zoo, nor does it seem it was developed in some mad scientist’s lab or anything like that. It’s just naturally big, naturally aggressive, and will test any person’s predator-killing ability. Director Shin Jung-won (Night of the Undead) is a good fit for the action comedy-thriller genre. The cast is uniformly good, with Uhm Tae-woong in particular so good in his role as police officer Kim Kang-soo, the all-forgiving everyman on reassignment in the mountain village of Sammaeri.
What is a “Chaw” anyway?
If you don’t know what “Chaw” means, don’t worry, you are not alone. The word is pronounced like “chow” and simply means trap. Interestingly, this word has some wordplay possibilities in English as chow is what we call food, and this is a film about man-eating pigs. It’s also an obvious reversal of roles, as normally it’s humans who expect to eat pigs, not the other way around. Then, of course, you have the obvious reason Americans re-titled it as Chawz: That very much sounds like “Jaws.”
Strengths and weaknesses of “Chaw”
Though not the average critic’s darling, Chaw had many makings of a small indie hit (at least). Sure, it’s not quite as tense as A Quiet Place, has bits of iffy CGI (though occasionally mixed with practical effects), and it never stood to win an Academy Award. Still, there are far worse comedy-thriller action films out there. If you are looking for the most riveting Korean thriller (such as The Wailing), you probably won’t find it here. Still, you might like the film.
You’ll love Chaw if you find giant pigs terrifying, with a newfound intensity as the action unfolds It’s not quite like the mystery deepens or like the antagonist’s motivations must be explained. It’s a creature feature, for the most part. Although not the raciest film ever, Chaw is rated R for strong violence, disturbing images and disturbing material, and thematic elements including man-eating pigs (no human cannibalism, though it does contain a few crazy characters).
What are your thoughts on “Chaw”? Squeal like a pig at us in the comments!