Combustible Celluloid
With: Song Kang-ho, Kim Sang-kyung, Kim Roi-ha, Song Jae-ho, Byun Hee-bong, Go Seo-hee, Park No-shik, Park Hae-il, Jeon Mi-seon, Yeom Hye-ran
Written by: Bong Joon-ho, Shim Sung-bo, based on a play by Kim Kwang-rim
Directed by: Bong Joon-ho
MPAA Rating: NR
Language: Korean, with English subtitles
Running Time: 131
Date: 07/15/2005

Memories of Murder (2003)

4 Stars (out of 4)

The Killer's Gone

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Bong Joon-ho's great second feature Memories of Murder is ostensibly based on a true story about a serial killer in Korea, but it's also quite a bit more, a sly comedy, and a story about problems and solutions, about searching and not searching. It's set in a farming community of Hwaseong Province, where several murders have occurred. Bong's frequent leading man Song Kang-ho effortlessly steals the show as shaggy detective Park Doo-man, in charge of the case. He claims he can spot a criminal by sight, but he's not above bullying a suspect to confess or casually falsifying a bit of evidence here and there. His partner is Cho Yong-koo (Kim Roi-ha), with a hair-trigger. The more polished, professional Seo Tae-yoon (Kim Sang-kyung) arrives from the big city (Seoul) to help. They run through false leads and wrong suspects, pick up clues, fail, and keep trying. At one point, Park visits his girlfriend and she, noticing how beat he looks, gives him an IV. Bong fashions the perfect ending, bittersweet, ironic, and unforgettable. It's not unlike David Fincher's Zodiac, made four years later, but more concise, and with more of a sense of satire. Indeed, on paper its parts shouldn't come together in any way, but they do, and beautifully.

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