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Memories of Murder (Unrated)

Release Date: July 15, 2005 (NYC- Cinema Village)
August 9th (VHS/DVD), by Palm Pictures.
The Cast: Song Kang-Ho,Kim San-Kyung
Directed by Bong Joon-Ho.
In Korean with subtitles.
BASIC PREMISE: Detectives search for a serial killer on loose in a rural community.

ENTERTAINMENT VALUE: This film is filled with many surprises from beginning to end. Over the past few years, the genre of crime thrillers/mysteries has gone stale with horrible "Seven" wannabes like Twisted, Taking Lives, High Crimes, The Bone Collector, and Saw. Now comes a Korean film that tries to do the same, but it succeeds on a completely different level. The plot is mainly focused on the detectives, who are very funny yet corrupt in their investigative methods. They plant evidence on the scene of the crimes as well as physically and mentally abuse their potential suspects. The cinematography along with the editing make this a very stylish, atmospheric thriller set in very breathtakingly scenic locations. What helps make this a very suspenseful film is the intense musical score along with the many details that make the serial killer--who is never shown--to appear to be very smart. For example, he leaves very little evidence, which leads the detectives to conjure up some very hilarious profiles about the killer, including that he might be a hairless monk. At one point, for some bizarre reason, he leaves pieces of a peach inside his victim. This is not a by-the-numbers thriller just like the wanna-be thrillers listed above. The evidence does not always have to add up in a coherent way necessarily; often, there are cases that remain very difficult to solve. The last thirty minutes of this film are especially riveting with a few unexpected plot twists as well as a very shocking ending.

SPIRITUAL VALUE: The effects of the serial killer's lack of evidence effects the detectives psychologically. Even though their standard procedures do not work, their alternative procedures raise the issue of ethics in many situations. It is unethical to come to conclusions about a potential suspect just on the basis that he is creepy and was located in the vicinity of the crime. However, given the circumstances, it is understandable that the detectives eventually grow weary from all the effort they put in which does not add up to any clear results. The entire film is very chilling and emotionally harrowing especially because it is based on a true story.



THE BOTTOM LINE: A riveting, stylish film that is full of twists and surprises in its plot and character development. It is not as emotionally effective as the 90's classic Fargo, but it has enough details and chilling suspense to revive the genre of crime thrillers/mysteries.

RECOMMENDED WAY TO WATCH: Movie Theater (1st Run)

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