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Memories of Murder (1990)

Cast: Song Kang-Ho, Nancy Allen, Nancy Allen, more...
Director: Robert M. Lewis, Robert M. Lewis, Bong Joon-ho, more...
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Rating: Not Rated
Studio: Palm Pictures
Genre: Foreign, Suspense/Thriller, Korea, Drama
Languages: English, Korean
Subtitles: English
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Based on the true story of a still-unsolved series of rapes and murders that happened in rural Korea in 1986-1991, this film by Bong Joon-ho (Barking Dogs Never Bite) follows the ultimately unsuccessful police investigation led by a pair of small town cops. After bungling the investigation of the first murder, they pin it on a retarded man who lives in the community. When the second murder occurs, it becomes clear that they are out of their depth. An investigator from Seoul is called in to help and his by-the-book manner causes friction with the local officers, who are more accustomed to beating confessions out of suspects that employing more conventional investigative techniques. But when the criminal continues to elude them, even he reaches his breaking point. ~ Tom Vick, All Movie Guide

GreenCine Member Ratings

Memories of Murder (1990)
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7.43 (82 votes)
Memories of Murder (Bonus Disc) (1990)
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5.00 (3 votes)

GreenCine Member Reviews

An "Inclusive" Serial Killer Film by talltale August 25, 2005 - 4:53 AM PDT
6 out of 7 members found this review helpful
As a rule, I don't like "serial killer" movies and yet I recommend MEMORIES OF MURDER most highly. If you're a normal serial killer film fan (and, yes, I would includes "Silence of the Lambs" in that lot), you may want to avoid this one because it does things and goes places that are surprising and disturbing in unusual ways. Korean films have the reputation of changing their mood on a dime--provoking shock, laughter, sadness and back again within the same scene. That happens here, but even more unusual I think, is the way this film get under your skin and the skin of its protagonists--four detectives (two small town hicks, one city boy and their boss) who try to solve the case.

The methods of these police (especially those of the hicks) are horrendous--torture, false confessions--and yet slowly you understand that their hearts are in the right place--for all this good it does anyone. And the townspeople appear to know full well of their own policemen's unfortunate methods. The victims, in particular, even though we don't get to know them very well, still take on more humanity than usual. Their demise provokes more sadness than twenty of the likes of "Seven" or "Taking Lives."

I wish I understood Korean culture better because I'm sure I am missing a lot. Even so, this is an alternately beautiful (the landscapes!) and troubling movie, based--so I am told--on the case of South Korea's first known serial killer (which happened as late as the mid 1980s!). Well directed by Joon-ho Bong, a name new to me, the film is also full of references to Korea's political situation at the time--which also adds to the difficulties of solving the case.

Lost in Translation by cammelltoe August 16, 2005 - 1:04 PM PDT
1 out of 6 members found this review helpful
allow me to translate. this is basically a hollywood serial killer big "b" movie, ala silence of the lambs or se7en, with a few winning touches that seperate it from the herd of slasher flicks that seem to be a staple of asian films that get played in the USA. i.e. there's no crushing, guiding passion behind it but you can sense the director is one clever mother fu*ker that will go far. So, if you are someone who enjoys noir, neo-noirs, police procedurals,gnarly crime sagas, or just enjoys exceptionally good compositions in the baldfaced name of stoytelling--- check this one out. It's smart.

A good cop drama/comedy with a great climax by rmarkd June 14, 2005 - 11:48 PM PDT
6 out of 6 members found this review helpful
Movies like this are the reason why I watch a movie completely, even if I don't care for how it starts.

Based on a still unresoved set of murders, Memories of Murder follow two rural cops and one cop from the big city. The rural cops seem like idiots, beating victims instead of working the case. Soon, the city cop is making all the right moves, finding the patterns of the killer, inching closer to finding the actual killer. At this point, it would have made for a nice, but pedestrian whodunit muder mystery.

But the last 30 minutes of the movie turned this into so much more than that.

Not to give much away, but there's so much sadness, so much tension, and in the last scene especially, you understand that those "memories of murder" are painful, haunting memories that you can really never shake off when you were neck deep in the investigation.

I admit that I was a bit bored halfway through the movie. They tried to play the silly bungling cops card which, for me, grew tiresome quick. So, if you rent this movie and find yourself feeling the same way, all I can say is watch until the end and I don't think you'll be disappointed.

7/10 overall. 6/10 for the first two-thirds of the movie, then an 8-9/10 for the last third. I'd recommend this to anyone looking for something that doesn't follow the typical formula.

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