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Memories of Murder
  |     review    |     availability     |


DVD (Korea)
Region 1 and 3 NTSC
2-Disc Special Edition
16x9 Anamorphic Widescreen
Korean Language Track
DTS ES 6.1. Dolby Digital 5.1 EX
Removable English and Korean Subtitles
Audio commentaries, documentaries, deleted scenes, and various extras

DVD (Korea)
Region 1 and 3 NTSC
Boxed Limited Edition
16x9 Anamorphic Widescreen
Korean Language Track
DTS ES 6.1. Dolby Digital 5.1 EX
Removable English and Korean Subtitles
Same extras as SE plus five film cuts from the original movie reel and four postcards

DVD (Hong Kong)
Region 3 NTSC
16x9 Anamorphic Widescreen
Korean Language Track
DTS ES 6.1. Dolby Digital 5.1 EX
Removable English and Chinese Subtitles
Behind the Scenes, Photo Gallery, Theatrical Trailer, TV Spots, and Cast & Crew Bios
*Also Available on Blu-ray Disc

Korean: 살인의 추억
Year: 2003
Director: Bong Joon-Ho
Producer: Kim Moo-Ryung
Writer: Bong Joon-Ho, Kim Kwang-Rim, Shim Sung-Bo
Cast: Song Kang-Ho, Kim Sang-Kyung, Byun Hee-Bong, Song Jae-Ho, Kim Rwe-Ha, Koh Seo-Hee, Jeon Mi-Seon, Park Noh-Sik, Ryu Tae-Ho, Park Hae-Il
The Skinny: Two detectives with clashing investigative styles search for a serial killer in this gripping thriller from director Bong Joon-Ho. Expertly crafted and featuring fine performances from its two stars, Memories of Murder is a standout film in its genre. Based on a true story.

Review by Calvin McMillin:

A serial killer is on the loose and it's up to two very different homicide detectives to catch him in Memories of Murder, a riveting, expertly shot police procedural from director Bong Joon-Ho. Based on true events that began in 1986, the film centers on rural cop Park Do-Mang (Song Kang-Ho) and his tense partnership with Inspector Suh Tae-Yoon (Kim Sang-Kyung), a big city detective fresh from Seoul. Park, who'd rather spend his time beating confessions out of suspects than do any actual detective work, mocks Suh, telling him that real Korean cops "investigate with their feet," not their intellect. But as the bodies begin to pile up, the two realize they have to reconcile their differences to stop the killer before he strikes again.

When viewers learn that Memories of Murder presents a fictionalized account of an actual unsolved crime, some may question how much interest such a film could generate considering that the ending—or lack of one—is made clear from the very beginning. That sort of skepticism is understandable, but the film is about so much more than its resolution. I hate to invoke the cliché that "it's the journey, not the destination" that matters, but that's a truism when it comes to Memories of Murder. The character arcs, the gathering of clues, the atmosphere of terror, and the general snapshot of police work in 1980s Korea—all of these elements contribute to making the film an intriguing ride from start to finish. But that's not to say that the film lacks a final "destination." The film builds to a climax that is tense and riveting, an ending in which one cop's belief system gets challenged in dramatic fashion. It's an ending in which we find out how the search for justice can push even heroes to the breaking point.

Some may find the more humorous aspects of the film to be somewhat out of place, but I felt that the comic elements were necessary to keep the film going (although I do question the logic behind the one of the film's posters, in which the two actors are grinning like idiots). The humor never seems obtrusive, but instead a nice juxtaposition against the heinous brutality of the serial killer.

The two leads turn in fine performances in their respective roles. Song Kang-Ho does a remarkable job as Park Do-Mang, an unsympathetic, often laughable character who goes through a process of maturation as the investigation progresses. Kim Sang-Kyung projects a certain amount of stoic cool as Inspector Suh, reminding this reviewer of Tony Leung Chiu-Wai at his best. As in most "buddy cop" movies, the two characters come to an understanding and form a sort of grudging respect for one other. Sure, that's an expected formulaic convention of the genre, but the way in which the two actors play this angle makes that transition feel like a natural extension of the story instead of an artificially constructed plot point.

Although very different in terms of tone and execution, Memories of Murder compares well to such respected crime films as The Silence of the Lambs and Seven. The film has a staying power that puts it head and shoulders above the standard "serial killer on the loose" slasher flicks that have become a genre onto themselves. No, this movie is so much more than a serial killer thriller, slasher movie, or just another whodunit. In the end, Memories of Murder is a fine film, and one not easily forgotten. (Calvin McMillin, 2004)

 Copyright 2002-2017 Ross Chen