Film & DVD Review: Memories of Murder

Certificate 15
127 Minutes

Reviewed by Al Martin

Based on a true story about a serial killer rapist that strikes only on rainy nights in a rural area of Gyeonggi Province, not too far from Seoul.

Memories of Murder is the biggest commercial & critical success in Korea so far this year, and I can clearly see why.

This is only the 3rd Korean film I’ve seen, the other two were Sex is Zero, which is similar in that the first half of the film has plenty of comedic moments & the rest of the film shows its serious side and The Tutor. This was a teen flick about a rebellious senior student stuck in high school because he can’t make the grade. The film revolves around his relationship with a girl forced to tutor him by her mother who is a friend of his own mother.

My favourite performance in Memories of Murder was by Kim Rwe-Ha, who played the role of Detective Cho Yong-koo, it is noted he took an extra year to finish school, and the only reason he got the job as a cop was for his martial arts skills.

My favourite scene, was when one of the main characters Detective Seo Tae-yoon was on his way to the Gyeonggi Province police station from Seoul’s Metropolitan police department to help with the ongoing investigation.While travelling he sees a woman slipping down a slope by the road, he decides to help her back up, however she is understandably paranoid that he may be the murdering rapist, she screams while fending him off. By sheer coincidence Detective Cho Yong-koo aka Detective combat boots is driving by, he quickly jumps out of the car and drop kicks Detective Seo Tae-yoon off the slope, then proceeds to punch the Detective numerous times before handcuffing him to his car & sending the woman on her way. Detective Seo manages to explain the misunderstanding to Cho but only after being severely beaten, together they drive down to the station. On arrival it is clear that Detective Seo has been viciously attacked, Detective Cho quickly makes up some excuses. This scene was very enjoyable for its comedy.

As the film progresses, the comedy sketch-like scenes come to a halt, the seriousness of the film is perfectly conveyed.

Towards the end of the film during the scene of the last murder victim, Detective Seo’s self control is completely pushed to the limit, this was so well acted I was totally captivated by it, brutal, but beautifully portrayed emotion.

If the film didnt’ have any comedy in it, it would be too depressing. I believe they got the balance just right.

I hope I will see many more great films from Korea. I thought that Hong Kong made the best films to come out of Asia, until now.

I recommend the film to anyone who enjoys a good foreign movie, different from the usual Hollywood action thriller, unlike the big names, the actors in this film are not up themselves. They do their job, to the best of their ability and there is no ego present on screen. I find this makes the performance more believable.

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