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Old 09-30-2009, 02:01 AM   #1
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Default Film 31: Memories of Murder (2003, Korean)



Memories of Murder aka Salinui chueok
Running time: 132 minutes
Directed by: Joon-ho Bong
Starring: Kang-ho Song
IMDB rating: 8.1
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0353969/

Well, with this place an e-ghost town, I figured I'd start posting foreign film reviews again, as I've been planning to watch a few more recently. It won't be one a day though, but I'm aiming to watch about 2 per week for the next couple of months.

Highly thought of by pretty much everyone who has seen it, what finally made me decide to watch this was seeing Tarantino name it as one of his favourite films of recent years. I think ol' Quentin is a tad overrated, but I was looking for something to watch and this nudged me further towards MoM.

Set in a rural South Korean town in the 1980s, it follows the story of two (and later three) detectives investigating a number of murders that have been commited.

Detective Park, who is handling the operation, is more confident than his abilities warrant. Though he's a good guy for the most part, his detective work is flawed, and his interrogation technique seems to consist mainly of threatening suspects, beating suspects, coercing statements and mishandling situations. He also enjoys a bit of karaoke.

As the murders continue and attract media interest, a more experienced cop is sent from Seoul to assist them, but their working relationship gets off to a bad start when Park wrongly thinks that the new cop is a rapist, and responds by drop-kicking, punching, and then handcuffing him before realising his mistake.

New evidence is discovered, as is a suspect who seems to be the man responsible,

MoM is a film that, IMO, is about the journey rather than the destination. When they puzzle over important clues, or interview possible suspects, the viewer is trying to decide whodunnit just as the detectives are. This helps in empathising with the frustration of the characters, who on more than one occassion seem to be close to solving the case, only to have a spanner thrown in the works.

The American film that this reminds me of is David Fincher's Zodiac, which is also based upon a real life case that took place a couple of decades beforehand, focusing on the police attempting to catch a serial killer. Like that film, I enjoyed this, but felt somewhat unfulfilled. It draws you in early, has good scenes throughout, and keeps you interested until the end. However it lacks that extra something that makes a film great, and for me it didn't really build up the tension, excitement or pace in the way that a lot of films do. There's a level is gets to, a tone it sets, but it never advances beyond that.

I liked this film and can see why a lot of people enoyed it, despite the fact that I don't rate it quite as highly as the majority of people do. The acting, story and dialogue is good, and despite him being a bit of a fool at times, I really did empathise with the main character.

7/10
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