PEOPLE: Directed by Joon-ho Bong, this is the first Korean movie I’ve ever seen by somebody other than Chan-Wook Park. Starring Kang-ho Song, who was the priest in the movie Thirst, Dong-Jin Park in Sympathy For Mr. Vengeance, and one of the assassins in Sympathy For Lady Vengeance. Suffice to say, I instantly recognized him, what with him being in 4 of the 5 Korean movies I’ve ever seen.
UNCOMFORTABLE PLOT SUMMARY (inspired by this): [highlight for spoilers]→ Police corruption and ineptitude causes innocent retard to die while failing to stop serial rape-murders.
QUIRKS: Korean serial killer murder mystery. Based on a true story. Yes, even the part with [highlight for spoilers]→ a retarded suspect being killed by a train. Police abuse of authority and corruption vs. good policing. Country vs. city cultures. Korean 1980′s. And some dark comedy interspersed with the mostly-dramatic storyline.
VISUALS: Shot really well; great cinematography. Looks as good as any Hollywood A-movie. Great to see in HD.
POLITICS: It seems that this movie was a commentary about abuse of authority police tactics, and how they actually obstruct justice more than bring it about. Some of the characters had revelations as such, and changed their behavior accordingly. The “good cop” was the one who praised how the Americans FBI investigators think, saying it was much better than the way Korean investigators think.
There’s also a deeper political level that only Koreans understand — described HERE, with spoilers.
MORALS: Forcing people to confess doesn’t actually make them guilty. It just helps people feel like justice was served, even when it was not. This still goes on, every day, in every country, because people have a punitive streak in them, and don’t feel good unless somebody’s punished. It doesn’t matter if it’s the wrong person; people will believe what they want to believe, because they’re assholes. And this happens the most to mentally disabled people — like in this movie.
GOOD STUFF: The ending scene — I did not realize it until I read the IMDB comments, but part of [highlight for spoilers]→ him looking into the camera after visiting the original crime site is the director knowing that the real serial killer — never caught — would probably see this in the theatre. The character is looking at the serial killer. This is the director’s way of trying to get the real killer to finally confess..
BAD STUFF: The ending is going to piss off some people.
CONCLUSION: Very well done, and more interesting than I normally consider mysteries, especially [highlight for spoilers]→ considering that it never gets solved.
RECOMMENDATION: Worth checking out, if you can stand watching foreign films with subtitles.
SIMILAR MOVIES: Some say Zodiac is like this movie, but that’s probably a superficial comparison.
MOVIE QUOTE: “There’s a reason people say I have a shaman’s eyes.”
OTHERS’ RATINGS: A lot of people who liked Chan-Wook Park‘s Vengeance Trilogy listed this movie in their top 5 Korean movies ever. That’s how I heard about it — reading IMDB forums for Sympathy For Mr. Vengeance, Old Boy, and Sympathy For Lady Vengeance.
Quentin Tarantino put this in his top 20 favorite movies ever (#15).
Matt D says: “You’ve learned well young Skywalker. great flick. Check out Bong’s first film Barking Dogs Never Bite. Its a black comedy about an apt building where someone is stealing and eating the dogs.” (more…)