Memories of Murder Image
Metascore
82

Universal acclaim - based on 11 Critics What's this?

User Score
7.8

Generally favorable reviews- based on 58 Ratings

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  • Summary: Based on a true story, Memories of Murder is a Korean suspense thriller offering an unusual fusion of death and laughter, while recollecting truly nightmarish events. (Palm Pictures)
Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 10 out of 11
  2. Negative: 0 out of 11
  1. Suspenseful, surprising, and psychologically rich.
  2. It's an altogether remarkable piece of work, deepening the genre while whipping its skin off, satirizing an entire nation's nearsighted apathy as it wonders, almost aloud, about the nature of truth, evidence, and social belonging.
  3. 90
    It takes enormous skill to pull off such a high-wire act without diminishing the gravity of the situation, but Bong and his first-rate cast are up to the task.
  4. Uses dark humor, incisive characterizations and social commentary to infuse its familiar detective tale with a distinctive flair.
  5. Reviewed by: Derek Elley
    80
    A powerful, slow-burning portrait of human fallibility.
  6. What distinguishes Memories of Murder, setting it apart from rank-and-file thrillers, is its singular mix of gallows humor and unnerving solemnity.
  7. The script is as sloppy as Song's unkempt cop, sprinkled with intriguing ideas and imaginative details that, like the investigation, simply get lost in blind alleys.

See all 11 Critic Reviews

Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 10 out of 13
  2. Negative: 1 out of 13
  1. Feb 2, 2012
    10
    Memories of Murder is far superior to most murder-mystery films. Writer/director Bong Joon-ho's mastery of the macabre, and of writingMemories of Murder is far superior to most murder-mystery films. Writer/director Bong Joon-ho's mastery of the macabre, and of writing disturbed characters makes the film a joy to behold. The cast are superb, and in fine neo-noir tradition (a tradition effectively started by Chinatown), the investigators haven't got a clue what is really going on. This idea is taken even further than in that Polanski classic, where Jack Nicholson's P.I. Jake Gittes was smart and street-wise, but never quite grasped the dire nature of the situation until it was far too late. In Memories of Murder, the detectives in charge of the murder investigation are essentially three different kinds of idiot, and all their investigative techniques are deeply flawed. Detective Park (Song Kang-ho) is a firm believer in following your gut, and appears to have progressed through his career in the police force through sheer blind luck rather than any conceivable skill. Detective Seo (Kim Sang-kyung) is a city cop, and on the surface appears to be the most competent of the group, but is completely out of his depth working in the countryside, and unable to recognise that his usual methods won't serve him as well in his new surroundings. Finally Detective Cho (Kim Roe-ha) is the classic dumb brute, using his army-booted feet to find the answers his mind is too feeble to root out. All of the cast are good, but of particular note are Song, who manages to play a fairly unlikeable character, but at the same time keeps viewers on his side because of his incompetent, clownish nature, and Kim Sang-kyung, who provides the story its emotional core. Loosely based on the Korean stage play Come See Me which re-tells the story of the Hwaseong murders just as the film does, Memories of Murder retains the feel of a play, with numerous scenes of the group of inept detectives simply sitting, and working out what to do next. Bong has ample opportunity to flex his filmmaking muscles in other scenes, with expansive and striking crane shots of the ominous rice fields where several of the murders take place, and classic horror movie P.O.V. shots from the killer's perspective (particularly shudder-inducing and tense is a scene later on in the film where we see the killer torn between two potential victims from his own perspective). Only in South Korean cinema do you see such brilliantly disjointed ideas on screen - such a dark film involving a serial killer shouldn't work with the addition of comedy, but somehow it does. As he has proved in all of his films, Bong is a real master of film deconstruction, and of making seemingly contradictory ideas work together, most commonly by adding his own unique brand of black comedy to normally serious situations (I hardly think a smile would be raised in a police torture scene directed by any other filmmaker in the world, with the possible exception of Quentin Tarantino). So Memories of Murder is a far cry from a conventional murder-mystery. It's not just its quirkiness that makes it stand out, though - it's well-written, performed and filmed. The story captivates you from the start, and it maintains momentum throughout. You never find out any more than the detectives in the film do, so you go through exactly the same experiences as them - you feel their frustration at their lack of progress and numerous investigative dead-ends, and their pain and despair at their inability to catch the elusive monster they are hunting. It's a very effective technique to keep the viewer compelled by the characters in a film. Bong Joon-ho also makes some explicit comments about the state of the Korean government and society in the 1980s, and in doing so, makes a more subliminal comment about modern Korea. He's easily among the most talented filmmakers working today, both technically and artistically, and isn't afraid to just let audiences loose in the film worlds he creates, leaving them to have their own unique experiences, and make their own judgements. Memories of Murder is dark, intelligent and beautifully crafted filmmaking at its finest, and I consider it one of the best films of the past decade. Expand
  2. Eunice
    Dec 10, 2005
    10
    I personally think this movie was better than The Silence of the Lambs as it contains more humour, and way, way better than Seve.
  3. Bryan
    Oct 3, 2006
    10
    Tremendous!
  4. TimC.
    Aug 28, 2005
    9
    Near perfect. The way this film resonates with reality back and forth through 20 years since the first killings in 1986, is particularly Near perfect. The way this film resonates with reality back and forth through 20 years since the first killings in 1986, is particularly poignant and rich with meloncholy and nostalgia, at least for this particular expat. The loss of innocence depicted here of the soulland of my country and the maturity and groundedness of its superb dramatic telling puts this film in a very special place in my DVD collection. The meticulous and understated direction by Bong Joon Ho is a quiet marvel. Expand
  5. KaKa
    Sep 6, 2005
    9
    This was an amzing film! The cinematography and the acting blew me away - not to mention the plot and the story line it was based on. i loved This was an amzing film! The cinematography and the acting blew me away - not to mention the plot and the story line it was based on. i loved the ending which was totally unexpecting for me - but i think was a wonderful way to end a plot such as this story line. The DVD extras that UMVD provides are decent - I enjoyed hearing what the actors had to say and I didnt expect there to be subtitles either! Bing, teh director, managed to grasp teh main bulk of teh mystery and present it to the general public and world in an unforgettable manner. Expand
  6. [Anonymous]
    Aug 23, 2005
    6
    Good movie. The ending was very stupid and gave you NO answers whatsoever.
  7. GregoryH.
    Sep 8, 2005
    0
    This thing was practically unwatchable--in fact I couldn't take more than a half hour of it. Dubbed into English and peppered with This thing was practically unwatchable--in fact I couldn't take more than a half hour of it. Dubbed into English and peppered with cutesy tough-guy supposed cop lingo, I wish I could have just watched in in Korean with English Subtitles. The poor dubbing made the characters seem laugable. The dialogue was pure vintage Starsky & Hutch-styled one guy hollering at all the other idiots and jerks, his words not mine. The critics MUST have all watched this film in its original incarnation, because no one in their right mind could heap any praise upon this butchered piece of crap. Expand

See all 13 User Reviews