64 – Memories of Murder

Welcome to The Best Movies I’ve Never Seen! This is the part of the blog where I work my way through 100 films I’ve never seen that are generally considered to be great. You’re invited to watch along with me if you can find a copy or find it streaming. So grab some popcorn and let’s get started!

Memories of Murder

2003

Directed by Bong Joon-ho

Quick synopsis… Two rural cops take on the case of Korea’s first serial killer, who has raped and murdered 10 women. Working without precedent or advanced forensic technology, they must rely on primitive methods to piece together the clues.

This will be the first film by Bong Joon-ho that I’ve ever seen. In spite of all of the outstanding things I’ve heard about his films Snowpiercer and Parasite, the latter of which is definitely on this list somewhere down the line.

Memories of Murder has been called one of the best feature films to come from South Korea. Though it didn’t receive a lot of international acclaim right away, it has gained a lot more attention since Bong’s wins at the 2020 Academy Awards.

In 1986, we follow police detective Park Doo-man after the discovery of a dead woman outside of a small town. Being a small town cop, Detective Park is not used to cases of this magnitude and is quickly overwhelmed, which leads to a lot of mistakes made by the police in collecting evidence and questioning potential suspects.

Park’s partner is Detective Cho, who has a tendency to get a little too heavy handed with suspects during interrogation. They are joined by a detective from Seoul, Seo Tae-yoon, who offers to volunteer his services to help catch the killer. The three of these men have very different ways of working the case and find it nearly impossible to work together. As they continually butt heads, more murders take place, and they finally come to realize that they need to work together to put an end to the killings.

It’s usually at this point that I would quit with my synopsis because I don’t want to give away what happens. Unfortunately, there’s nothing to really give away. Our trio of detectives like several different suspects for the serial killings, but as it turns out, the murders go unsolved.

The cinematography is great and I love the muted color palate used throughout the film, an intentional choice by the filmmaker as it is pointed out that the killer chooses victims wearing red and only strikes on rainy nights. So when the color red appears on screen, it really stands out.

As murder mysteries go, I would say this one is pretty good considering we never find out who the killer is. I haven’t personally seen too many South Korean films, so I’m in no position to agree or disagree about this being one of the best films to emerge from that particular country. But it is good and worth seeing. If you have a Hulu subscription and a couple of extra hours, take time to check it out.

Having now seen Memories of Murder, it currently ranks at 995 out of 2,273 movies on my personal Flickchart.

Have you seen Memories of Murder? What did you think of it? Is it worthy to be called one of the best films to come out of South Korea? Let me know your thoughts down in the comments!

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