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Memories of Murder

(Korea, English Subtitles). One of Bong Joon-Ho’s first big hits is now available for rent on Amazon Prime! The film, based on a true crime story that was not solved at the time of the film’s original release, is about the efforts of some local detectives to find a serial killer. Two detectives from a local police department, one of who has anger control issues, and the other who seems to have gotten his training from crime detective television shows, are joined by an educated detective from Seoul. The first half of the film is very funny watching Detective Park conjure all of his worst and amateur sleuthing skills, even visiting a psychic, to make headway in the crime. As typical with Joon-Ho’s films, his stories linger along the cultural boundaries, and in this case, he finds humor in the contrast in investigating styles between the three detectives. There are shifts in mood that are also characteristic of his films. You find yourself laughing and then suddenly realize something horribly serious is happening. And, like Parasite, the noticeable divisions between the characters blur as the story continues and the murder investigation leads nowhere. This is a well-crafted crime story that is beautifully shot and wonderfully acted. While I don’t know a lot about Korean history, it was interesting to watch these events unfold in a culture that seemed to not have any experience with serial killers and where the police didn’t have time to dedicate resources to fighting the crime because they were out covering demonstrations and focusing on “other priorities”. I loved this film, which gets a huge thumbs up from me. It is excellent entertainment and is one of my favorite films of his. (2003; 5 Stars)

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