Memories of Murder (RE:2020) (15)

Memories of Murder (RE:2020) (15)

Director: Bong Joon-ho

Runtime:129 minutes

Cast: Song Kang Ho, Kim Sang-kyung, Roe-ha Kim, Kim Rwe-ha, Jae-ho Song, Song Jae-ho, Byun Hee-bong, Ryu Tae-ho, Seo-hie Ko, Park Noh-shik, No-shik Park, Park Hae-il, Jong-ryol Choi

Synopsis: In 1986 Gyeonggi Province, South Korea, after two women are found raped and murdered, Seoul detective Seo Tae-yoon is brought in to help local detective Park Doo-man with the investigation. As more bodies are found, the pair realise they have a serial killer on their hands.


Acclaimed South Korean filmmaker, Bong Joon-ho [Barking Dogs Never Bite (2000), Snowpiercer (2013), Parasite (2019)] has re-released his classic Memories of Murder in a brand new 4K restoration.

It was filmed fifteen years before Parasite, which in 2019 won the Palme d’Or at Cannes – a first for a South Korean film. Parasite also became the first South Korean film to receive Academy Award nominations, with Bong winning Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Original Screenplay, making Parasite the first film not in English to win Best Picture.

Memories of Murder is based on the real events of South Korea’s first recorded serial killings. Bong’s haunting sophomore feature is set in a small province of South Korea in 1986, under the military dictatorship, and follows two vastly different detectives eager to catch a brutal serial killer roaming the streets.

After two women are found brutally murdered, Seoul detective Park Doo-man (Song Kang-Ho) is brought in to help inept local detective Seo Tae-yoon (Kim Sang-kyung) investigate these horrific crimes. However, when the body count begins to rise and a pattern emerges, the pair realise they are chasing the country’s first documented serial killer, and that they will need to rely on their basic skills to piece together the clues and solve the case before the killer strikes again – with nil forensics and clashing personalities. One of them seems to be using medieval tactics while the other one brings city sophistication. Their methods clash, and so do they – physically.

Memories of Murder blends the familiar crime genre with social satire and comedy, capturing the all-too human desperation of its key characters. Bong Joon-ho’s familiar social themes, genre-mixing, black humour, and sudden tone shifts feature strongly in the new remastered film, which recalls crime classics like Zodiac and Se7en. Bong’s cult thriller is an unsettling anti-procedural with all its elements blended together in his typically masterful fashion.

While a total body count is never mentioned in the film, at least ten similar murders were committed in the Hwaseong area between October 1986 and April 1991. This killing spree became known as the Hwaseong serial murders. As told by Bong, the story is dark, perverted, violent yet comical in appropriate proportions. Bong’s brilliance lies in making such a humane film out of such a violent subject.

Outstanding ensemble acting, an atmospheric score by Tarô Iwashiro and cinematography by Hyung-ku Kim all combine to make a haunting, richly layered film.

In cinemas and on Curzon Home Cinema

Images courtesy of Curzon Artificial Eye