Memories of Murder throws you deep into an investigation by the local Korean police into the murder of a young woman. From the first moments we are confronted with, to be frank, an asshole with a badge (Detective Park Doo-man) and as we find out as the story progresses, his partner in crime if you pardon the expression. Throw in what seems to be a typical Korean viewpoint of an incompetent police force run by idiots and you might begin to have an inkling of what this film is like, but that is just the start of it.
When another young girl is murdered in a similar way a more senior Detective (Seo Tae-yoon) is brought in from Seoul to assist with the investigation which only highlights the abject incompetence shown by the local police as they try time and again to pin this on innocent, vulnerable members of the public by coercing them into making a (false) statement of guilt.
As the investigation continues, and Inspector Seo takes more and more control in this case, inevitably leading it towards a suspect but also the longer it goes on without resolution the wilder, crazier and more Detective Park-like Seo gets.
In his second film as director Bong Joon-ho (The Host, Snowpiercer, Okja) manages to put together a really decent crime thriller, with the normal elements of mocking the authorities for their ineptitude. This film was written by Bong Joon-ho and Shim Sung-bo and based on a series of actual murders attributed to Korea’s first serial killer, the events of which took place in the Hwaseong area between 1986 and 1991 and details were taken from the case and implemented into the film. The performances by Song Kang-ho (The Host, Thirst, Snowpiercer, The Age of Shadows) as Detective Park and Kim Sang-kyung as Detective Seo are the cornerstone of this film and they are as different as chalk and cheese, at least to begin with, but they work in their own ways to bring in the killer.
Totally worth a watch as it still looks great and works really well, solid performances and a compelling story, based on real life, give this film more weight than it would have otherwise but it flows well and keeps your interest throughout.
Without giving it away there is a brave choice of ending but one that I felt works well with the rest of the film. If you’ve seen it, what did you think of the ending?