A body has been discovered near by this quiet Korean village which prides itself on its crime-free neighbourhood. Unfortunately a crime-free neighbourhood means that its police force are singularly unequipped to tackle the trouble they are about to encounter. This is no ordinary murder case as the cops find out, with not one but two bodies bearing signs of having been half-eaten by a wild animal, though no one is sure what it could be. However, they will soon find out that the beast on the rampage is a wild boar - and a giant one at that...
That title, Chaw, does it remind you of anything? How about a certain American blockbuster of the seventies? Yes, it's deliberately courting comparison with Jaws, as they both feature isolated communities facing an overgrown animal that threatens their peaceful existence, and in the second half of each a small but plucky band of hunters venture out to track it down. If you feel you could probably write this kind of plot yourself, then there was a compensation as if director Jeong-won Shin was well aware of this drawback and to stop things getting boring added in a bunch of eccentric characters.
Well, eccentric mainly meaning antagonistic, as if the tranquility of the village has sent its inhabitants off their rockers wishing for something to happen other than what always happens, day in, day out. You could say they get their wish in far greater volume than they can cope with, as they soon realise that they are better off winding each other up than being subjected to an upset from outside their community. Some of those villagers include Officer Kim (Tae-woong Eom), who is struggling with a heavily pregnant wife and a mother who is senile to the point of disruption, so the last thing he needs is the wild boar roaming about.
It is Kim amongst this ensemble cast who emerges as the hero, though only after the trials and tribulations pile up with a vengeance. Chaw belonged to the style of monster movie which harkened back to the revenge of nature horrors of the seventies, and more than The Host, which may have been an inspiration, this was less an East Asian creature feature and more a down and dirty shocker in the pattern of yesteryear. Therefore not only are people gored by the boar, but for comedy value they tend to wind up face down in the mud - or worse. In truth, this isn't exactly hilarious, mostly because the characters take too long to grow on you, although some do so more than others.
In spite of the jokey tone, there are a few scenes of tension, as when the boar breaks into a makeshift club and sends the partygoers fleeing in all directions, with the big game hunter supposed to be bagging the behemoth rooted to the spot with terror when his rifle bullets bounce off its tank armour-like hide. The humorous scenes of the first half are hard to get a handle on as they involve a lot of pain and humiliation, and not much of exactly kneeslapper quality, but once the story finds its feet in the second half its quirks come together and the whole thing repays your commitment to it. Even so, there's no denying it is derivative as the title should have indicated to the savvy viewer, and it's yet another monster flick to end with the characters running away from an explosion. If you don't mind the seen it all before aspect, and are tuned into Chaw's sense of the ridiculous, then it's not bad at all.