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Review" Bong Joon Ho's 'Memories Of Murder' a Darkly Chilling Procedural with Biting Satire

by Greg Vellante
EDGE Media Network Contributor
Tuesday Apr 20, 2021
Review" Bong Joon Ho's 'Memories Of Murder' a Darkly Chilling Procedural with Biting Satire

In what now feels like a eternity ago thanks to COVID times, Bong Joon Ho reached newfound levels of recognition in early 2020 when his film "Parasite" took home multiple honors at the annual Academy Awards, including Best Picture and Best Director. Now, arriving on Criterion Collection in a new 4K digital restoration approved by Bong himself, the filmmaker's breakthrough second feature "Memories of Murder" is available to own.

Arguably one of Bong's most searing and monumental works, "Memories of Murder" follows a string of serial killings in a small rural community of South Korea in the 1980s. The killings are enough to shake you, even in their brief doses, as Bong carefully chooses what he reveals in ephemeral closeups that burn the brain. Bound hands. Underwear wrapped around the victims' heads. Tattered clothes. It's not for the easily squeamish, as Bong zeroes in on the authenticity of these murders just as much as he focuses on the efforts of the detectives following the case.

The two main players are played by the iconic Song Kang Ho (a frequent player in Bong films) and Kim Sang Kyung, as the two reluctantly pair together to solve the killings. The investigation lasts years, in which many suspects are apprehended, held and tortured by the detectives as "Memories of Murder" never shies away from the authoritarian rule of the police force and how the tactics of these detectives mirror the appalling acts of the killer himself.

But there's also plenty of humor within the mix, as "Memories of Murder" represents both a darkly chilling procedural with biting satire. The overall impact is downright genius, and now is your chance to bring home this film in a stunning Criterion Collection release that delivers in both film quality and supplemental material.

Two 2003 commentaries featuring Bong and members of the cast and crew are included in this two-disc Blu-ray release, as well as a new commentary featuring critic Tony Rayns. In addition to that, viewers can enjoy a new interview on the work by filmmaker Guillermo del Toro, an interview with Bong about the real-life serial killer who inspired the film and more. The biggest asset in the bonus features is a 2004 documentary on the making of the film, which is fascinating. Other supplemental material includes:

• Deleted scenes, with optional audio commentary by Bong
• New interview with film scholar Jeff Smith on the use of sound in Bong's work
• "Incoherence," a 1994 student film by Bong, with a new introduction by the director
• Teaser, trailer, and TV spot
• An essay by critic and novelist Ed Park

"Memories of Murder" is available on Criterion Collection Blu-ray for the suggested retail price of $31.96

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