Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Salinui chueok (Memories of Murder) (2003)

Director: Joon-ho Bong
Writers:  Joon-ho Bong, Kwang-rim Kim, Shim Sung-bo
Cast:       Kang-ho Song, Sang-kyung Kim, Roe-ha Kim
Language:Korean

Film is based on the true story of South Korea's first known serial murders, which took place between 1986 and 1991 in Hwaseong, Gyeonggi province. The film follows two detectives who are trying to solve the crimes.

Quentin Tarantino had included this film in his top twenty films since 1992 (Reservoir Dogs). I recently saw Joon-ho Bong's futuristic sci-fi action film Snowpiercer which was a great watch with some over the top action and concepts but in an extremely enjoyable way. When a foreign director does a film in a language foreign to him you don't expect much subtlety which was the case with Snowpiercer. I was expecting Memories of Murder to be much more of a brooding thriller considering the subject matter but it is done with some deadpan humor especially at the beginning. As the film progresses it sheds that style and become much more about how the investigation is affecting the two detectives. Some of it is quite camp with the line uttered by the more sophisticated detective from Seoul becoming from 'Document is the truth' at the start of the investigation to 'Document is a lie' by the end. Some of that might be a case of lost in translation and it is quite a great watch. 

Obvious comparison is to be made with David Fincher's 'Zodiac' which came later in 2007. The endings are similar and both are based on true stories. Don't know whether the Korean film influenced Fincher film in any way but Zodiac is much more of a character study done with much more subtlety.  But Memories of Murder is much more fast paced and both films have their own place.

Rating: 4/5