Memories of Murder


I had read numerous glowing reviews of this film on several different sites, and thus I was eager to finally get around to watching it. Having finished it, I can honestly say that I don’t understand those positive reviews.

From the very beginning, the tone is completely off. Women are being brutally raped and murdered, and yet the lead detectives are painted as bumbling abusive morons. I understand needing a reason for Detective Seo Tae-yoon (Sang-kyung Kim) to join the investigation, but everything was utterly over the top and cartoonish.

Detective Cho Yong-koo (Roe-ha Kim) is a completely arbitrary character, existing only to torture suspects. He literally does nothing of use and, unlike Detective Park Doo-man (Kang-ho Song), never experiences any character development whatsoever. Unless you count him randomly contracting tetanus and having his leg amputated as character development.

The most disappointing thing about Memories of Murder is the plot. Having heard it compared to Zodiac, I expected there to not be a resolution in the end. I was fine with that. What I did not appreciate was how meandering and uninteresting the plot actually was. A series of cliches and red herrings needlessly inflate the run-time, none convincing enough to actually fool the viewer into believing them.

Baek Kwang-ho (No-shik Park) is competent enough to avoid police, hide from killers, and clothe himself… but apparently he is not competent enough to realize when he is about to be hit by a train. The fact that Kwang-ho was the only one to see the killer’s face, and then perished in this manner, elicited some serious eye rolling.

It is also frustrating that there is no explanation given for the killer changing their modus operandi. The film makes a point of mentioning that women wearing red are being killed on rainy nights, and then the culprit rapes and kills a girl that isn’t wearing red on a clear night. I understand that psychopaths devolve and their methods and habits tend to exhibit this, but here it felt contrived.

I actually enjoyed the last portion of the film more than anything else. Seeing that Park Doo-man is still obsessed with the case after nearly twenty years, and learning that he just barely missed the killer at the place of the first murder, was poignant and impactful. The final scene is the most memorable of all. Unfortunately, however, Memories of Murder is just another film with so much squandered potential.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s