Memories of Murder (2003)

Kang-ho Song, Sang-kyung Kim, Roe-ha Kim, Jae-ho Song,
Salinui chueok is a movie starring Kang-ho Song, Sang-kyung Kim, and Roe-ha Kim. In a small Korean province in 1986, two detectives struggle with the case of multiple young women being found raped and murdered by an unknown culprit.
  • 8.1 /10.0 IMDB Rating:
  • DatePublished:
  • 2018-09-07 Added:
  • Kwang-rim Kim, Sung-bo Shim, Writer:
  • Joon-ho Bong, Director:
  • Seoung-Jae Cha, Moo-Ryoung Kim, Jong-yun No, Producer:

Trailer:

9 / 10

Great serial killer drama

I'm one of those people who tend to think that South Korean movies are perhaps a bit too slow-paced for my taste. Memories of Murder isn't a fast-paced film, by any means, but this time the slow pace made this movie about an investigation of serial killings so much better than 95% of its American counterparts.

Essentially, Memories of Murder is a drama first with thriller and comedy elements (yes, in the first hour or so the movie is actually quite funny). Kang-ho Song and Sang-kyung Kim are brilliant as the two cops who have drastically different views on how to solve a crime. The character development is fascinating and believable thanks to a great script.

Highly recommended.

9 / 10

The Slow Development of a Masterpiece

This is probably the best crime thriller I've seen since "Insomnia," and contains the most haunting climax of any serial killer flick since "Seven." But like most films reaching for greatness, this is most admirable for its striking details.

The filmmakers here craft a taut, careful, and delicately strung together motion picture that relishes in its amazing development of mood, place, and character.

First, the mood: Haunting cinematography (rain falling on a small village at night, shadows darting across a thick field of grass, figures lurking in the woods, a masterfully choreographed hot pursuit scene on foot), a poignant music score (aided by the creepy use of a Korean pop song that accompanies each murder), and no-nonsense direction (peppered with fabulous doses of comic relief--how Shakespearan!) keep the film more and more intriguing at each turn and fascinating to watch.

Second, the place: South Korea, circa the late 1980's, and apparently under some sort of militia rule. This is inspired by the true story of Korea's first publicized (and still unsolved) serial killer case. This unique time and place serves as a wonderful respite from the typical American big-city setting of so many other films of this ilk.

Finally, the character development: The small details revealing the haunted souls of the detectives on the case is nothing short of brilliant. Witness the tiny executions of minutae: The cloth one rogue cop wraps around his boot so as not to leave scars when he kick-boxes suspects into submission, the harried chief of police checking his own blood pressure while trying to keep his off-the-cuff detectives in line or fighting to keep headline-starved reporters at bay, the young female officer desperately trying to showcase her abilities in crime solving between serving the chauvinistic detectives cups of fresh coffee, the outsider detective from Seoul's insistence that documents never lie (and the brutal irony at the climax that challenges his entire sense of being), and the main village detective's scathing speech on the difference between American FBI agents and Koren policemen. The beauty is in the details, and this film, like all the great ones, revels in their uncovering.

One flaw is that some might find the film a bit long in the tooth, but this is not to be missed for fans of serial killer thrillers and police procedural movies. For the Korean filmmakers, and the amazing cast...this is their master stroke.

10 / 10

A Masterpiece that you cannot miss

Beginning in the fall of 1986 and continuing for the next four years South Korea was haunted by the nation's first recorded serial killer. Preying upon women in a remote rural community the killer was both vicious and meticulous, strangling his victims with their own undergarments and leaving nothing of any use to the police investigating the crimes. The killer was never caught.

I do not envy any director trying to make a true crime film, particularly not one so high profile and so recent that the crimes still live on in the public consciousness. Stray too far in one direction and you devolve into saccharine sentimentality, go the other direction and you risk crass exploitation. Director Bong Joon-Ho avoided both of these traps by charting an altogether different route: he has made a film that is not about the killer or the crimes or the victims but one that is purely about the police officers charged with the case and the devastating emotional toll it took on their lives. In charting his unusual route Bong has created a bleak masterpiece, one that took home a stack of film awards in its native land but which has been largely neglected on these shores until now.

The film begins with the first body discovered, a woman strangled with her own stockings, raped, tightly bound, and hidden in a drainage culvert. The detective in charge of the case is Park Du-Man (Song Kang-Ho) and it is immediately clear that he is out of his depth, that the entire local police force, in fact, are out of their depth. The crime scene is chaos, crowded by reporters and locals trampling over potentially vital evidence. Park himself is not what you'd call a systematic investigator, scoffing at the scientific approach and trusting in his supposedly unerring eye at picking out criminals just by looking at them. He relies on swagger and bravado and the brute force of his uneducated assisting officer Jo Yong-Gu.

Serving as a foil to Park and Jo is Seo Tae-Yun (Kim Sang-Kyung) a detective from Seoul who has volunteered to assist with the investigation. Seo is the polar opposite of Park - methodical and rational - and it takes mere moments for the two to clash, clashes that lead to the two of them overlooking some key pieces of evidence.

As the film progresses and the body count continues to rise you can feel a sense of desperation slowly settle over the department. Under educated, under manned and woefully under equipped the local force is simply not up to the task. As the realisation that they will not find the evidence they so badly need begins to set in Park and Jo resort to planting evidence to bring in suspects Park picks out with his 'keen eye', suspects they then set out to extract coached confessions from. The process inevitably leads to public humiliation. Soon even Seo begins to lose his faith in reason and just as things bottom out they finally catch a break and settle on a prime suspect, one who truly appears likely to be their man. But can they make it stick? What sets Memories of Murder apart from the crowd are the rich performances from its leads and the sure hand of Bong Joon-Ho. Bong knows exactly what he wants to do with this film and he steers the ship with a firm hand. He has a keen eye for imagery but he consistently avoids the cheap resolve, the quick hit, in favour of a slowly building mood and the film is all the stronger because of it. Song and Kim are both stellar in their roles, giving their characters much needed depth. You can feel their frustration and helplessness continually growing and when the final crushing blow is delivered you can feel their utter despair at being abandoned by a system that they have given their lives to. Bong isn't just asking how this could happen, how someone could be as evil as this killer, but how could a government allow this to happen? How could the police not be given the tools and manpower they so obviously needed to protect the people? The DVD release has been given the standard Palm treatment. The transfer is strong and presented in anamorphic widescreen. The film is presented with both the original Korean language track in 2.0 stereo and an English dub in both 2.0 and 5.1. The English subtitles are solid, clearly translated and easy to read. The disc also includes a reel of cast and crew interviews discussing their characters and the creation of the film as well as an extensive reel of deleted scenes.

Memories of Murder is a minor masterpiece, a film that moved Bong immediately onto Korea's A-list of directing talent. It is richly detailed, beautifully performed and disturbing in precisely the way that people need to be disturbed in from time to time. Don't miss it.

8 / 10

Must See

After two women are found dead in a rural community, a detective arrives from the big city to help out. Things quickly mushroom with the discovery of more bodies, more suspects and no end in sight.

Whether you like police films or not you should see this movie about the real hunt for Korea's first known serial killer simply because its a great movie. This is a movie that alters your expectations and changes your view of things. Its impossible to guess whats going to happen simply because the twists and turns are so unexpected. At times this is a funny funny movie, especially if you like shows like Law and Order or CSI since what we take for granted in those shows is stood on its head. At other times this is a very taut thriller and you become as desperate as the police in needing to put an end to the madness.

On top of all of this is a picture of Korea in 1986, a place with political unrest and civil defense drills that for me at least makes it seem like something out of the 1950's.

This is brilliant brilliant film-making.

I've given the film an 8 out of 10, even though it probably deserves to be higher, simply because some 12 hours after seeing the film, I'm still pondering what I thought of it, how good is it? At least an 8. I'm sure a second and third and fourth viewings will change my mind.

Yea its that good

9 / 10

American thrillers should learn from Korean ones

What a good movie.What a great work of casting. Perhaps a little bit long, but the most part the movie is enjoyable and there's no perfection without mistakes. I think i haven't ever seen before a Korean movie and if there are much of them like this one i shall become Korean movie fan. The tempo, the thrill, the development of characters, everything it has been well worked.The direction is good yet without emphatic resources, there are just two moments with a little much use of slow motion but it doesn't arrive to be an abuse of it.

If you can see it don't loose your time with Hollywood sad-bad thrillers bet for this Korean present.

9/10 cause perfection doesn't exist.