Memories of Murder, a serial killer procedural unlike any you've seen, received world wide release (it played at BAM last year), was the number one film in South Korea and won the country's Grand Bell Award for best picture.
Based on the true crimes that took place between 1986 and 1991 in Korea, the film depicts a police force that is ignorant, brutal, and totally unequipped to handle such a difficult case. The crime scenes are chaotically compromised and the suspects are tortured into false confessions. It's particularly shocking to watch in this day and age, when everyone is a back seat detective and is aware of basic procedures thanks to forensics on TV.
The case's main detective, Park Do-Mang goes head to head with his partner, Suh Tae-Yoon, a more educated and less backwards young detective from Seoul who comes to help the investigation. Do-Mang claims to be able to see if someone is lying just by looking into their eyes, sicks his uneducated sadistic assistant on suspects and even consults a shaman before believing in any of Tea-Yoon's big city modern methods. But even those modern methods are nearly pointless due to the?country's very limited technological advances (at one point they have to send DNA to America for analysis).
Their views shift however in the course of a failed, sad, and infuriating investigation where after every step they take foreword to catching the murderer they take two steps back. As much as the detectives are ill prepared to face off against such a heinous offender, and their bumbling makes you angry, they truly do want to do the right to thing and find the guilty man. Unfortunately in real life and the film they never did.
It's a haunting film and a really interesting one that is well acted and shot beautifully. The opening sequence of an over saturated sky and field that you learn is a crime scene is particularly memorable. The films unique combination of humor and gravity is critically praised. The balance is subtle and masterfully pulled off by Bong and the result is an extraordinary film that revitalizes a washed up genre.