Memories of Murder
5 out of 10
6 out of 10
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Rating: Not Rated
Kang-ho Song as Park, Du-man
Sang-kyung Kim as Seo, Tae-yun
Roe-ha Kim as Jo, Yong-gu
Jae-ho Song as Commander Shin
Hie-bong Byeon as Commander Gu
Seo-hie Ko as Kwon, Kwi-ok
No-shik Park as Baek, Kwang-ho
Hae-il Park as Park, Hyeon-gyu
Jong-ryol Choi as Du-man's father
Cast & Crew Interviews
Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound
Running Time: 132 Minutes
This film was originally released in South Korea in 2003 under the name "Salinui chueok". The following is from the DVD cover:
"Based on the true story of South Korea's first serial killer. When women start turning up dead in a small town in S. Korea in 1986, two reluctantly-partnered cops resolve to bring him to justice. Without DNA testing or modern forensics, the investigators are forced to rely mainly on intuition and brute force. At times both touching and hilarious, Memories of Murder is a riveting tale of a mysterious killer and the ceaseless pressure on those charged with stopping his rampage."
Memories of Murder is not rated, but the content qualifies for an R rating.
Memories of Murder isn't your typical murder mystery and thriller. First of all, there's the whole South Korean setting. It's really interesting to see how their police force attempted to solve crimes back in the 80's. Forget Miranda Rights, lawyers, and "innocent until proven guilty". These cops beat the crap out of their suspects, brainwash them into confessing, and harass innocent individuals based on their hunches. It's a far cry from the American justice system. A lack of forensic science also hampers their investigations. This film is also unique because of the ending. It doesn't resolve itself like your usual movie about a serial killer. That ending, which I won't ruin here, gives it an unsatisfying feeling of leaving things unresolved. Finally, the fact that it's based on a true story makes it all the more intriguing. I would have thought the story was too outlandish to be true if it hadn't come out at the beginning and said it was based on reality.
Memories of Murder is also a fantastic looking film. The cinematography is first rate and it offers up a wide variety of beautiful or creepy settings in South Korea. The movie also does a good job of building suspense. There's one particularly creepy scene where a woman thinks she's being stalked while walking in a rural area. As she looks for her pursuer in the fields, he slowly rises from the tall grass as she turns her head, then disappears when she turns back around. It was definitely a haunting image. A scene later where he shoots out of the grass to grab her will also freak you out.
Memories of Murder does have a number of pitfalls. First of all, there's the aforementioned unsatisfying ending. General American audiences might be looking for a little more resolution to the plot. Some of the scenes where the cops beat up the suspects seem a bit over the top, too. They're shown kicking the crap out of guys, then joking and having dinner with them a short time later like everything's OK. Many of the scenes showing the relationships between the cops also seem off like that. In one scene they're fighting, in the next they're all out at a karaoke bar together getting drunk. Finally, it's difficult to find a character to root for in this movie. The main hero is shown torturing innocent suspects, brainwashing people into confessing in order to advance his career, and sleeping with hookers. It's a little hard to like the guy.
If you like Korean cinema or if you're into movies about serial killers, then I think you'll be interested in Memories of Murder. I don't think this is a movie for all American audiences, but you might want to check it out if you're feeling adventurous.
There are a few bonus features included on this DVD. Besides original trailers and weblinks, you'll find cast and crew interviews as well as deleted scenes. The deleted scenes are presented in a series of montages. They all center around certain themes or characters. The interviews also total up to around 45 minutes of behind the scenes footage and Q&A. All of the main cast are interviewed and give their opinions on the characters, what filming was like, etc.
The Bottom Line:
Memories of Murder is a unique true story about a Korean serial killer. While it's not for all American audiences, it does feature some interesting cinematography and a good look at the Korean police force from the 80's.