Memories of Murder (2003) - Rotten Tomatoes

Memories of Murder (2003)



Critic Consensus: Memories of Murder blends the familiar crime genre with social satire and comedy, capturing the all-too human desperation of its key characters.

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Movie Info

South Korea in 1986 under the military dictatorship: Two rural cops and a special detective from the capital investigate a series of brutal rape murders. Their rude measures become more desperate with each new corpse found.

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Song Kang-ho
as Detective Park
Kim Sang-kyung
as Detective Seo Tae-yoon
Roe-ha Kim
as Detective Cho
Kim Rwe-ha
as Detective Cho Yong-koo
Jae-ho Song
as Sergeant Shin
Song Jae-ho
as Sgt. Shin Dong-chul
Byun Hee-bong
as Sergeant Koo
Seo-hie Ko
as Officer Kwon
Ryu Tae-ho
as Jo Byeong-sun
Park Noh-shik
as Baek Gwang-ho
Jong-ryol Choi
as Du-man's Father
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Critic Reviews for Memories of Murder

All Critics (39) | Top Critics (11)

How the hell does a film this tonally out there, with characters this lunkheaded and at times even cruel and hateful, manage to be so indescribably moving?

August 15, 2017 | Full Review…

What's singular in all this is the director's angle into the material, which is subtle, difficult to pin down, elusive.

July 29, 2005 | Full Review…

An involving and skillfully mounted film from Korean filmmaker Bong Joon-Ho that's based on a true story.

July 28, 2005 | Full Review…

Bong not only has an eye for beauty there are some gorgeous shots of the country's farmland but for the absurd.

July 21, 2005 | Rating: 3/4

Uses dark humor, incisive characterizations and social commentary to infuse its familiar detective tale with a distinctive flair.

July 21, 2005

Memories of Murder is such a taut, effective thriller it's a shame you have to read subtitles to gauge just how good a movie it is.

July 15, 2005 | Rating: 4.5/5 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for Memories of Murder


Bong Joon-ho uses a real Korean serial killer story as the basis for this always absorbing, terribly ironic and tragically hilarious crime drama that is both an intelligent social satire and a sharp political commentary, and he never ceases to surprise us until the very last shot.

Carlos Magalhães
Carlos Magalhães

Super Reviewer

A murder chronicle that engulfs you into its own mystique. A richly layered film with great cinematic devices, satirical and distant at first, desperate, elusive and suspenseful by the end.

Pierluigi Puccini
Pierluigi Puccini

Super Reviewer


"Do you see this kind of thing in Seoul often?" South Korea in 1986 under the military dictatorship: Two rural cops and a special detective from the capital investigate a series of brutal rape murder. Their crude measures become more desperate with each new corpse found. Based on a true case

Set in 1986, "Memories of Murder" chronicles the first serial killer case in South Korean history. The victims are all beautiful young women whose bodies have been found raped and strangled in local fields and ditches. The initial agents who have been put on the case are two incompetent bunglers - one a dropout from college, the other a dropout from high school - who seem to have gleaned the majority of their investigative techniques from cheesy TV crime dramas. Enter Seo Tae-yoon, a forensic investigator from Seoul, who wrests control from the locals and brings some big-city know-how to the case. Given the grim subject matter at hand, it's amazing just how funny so much of this movie turns out to be. Blessed with a sly sardonic humor and a willingness to make fun of its characters even while evincing a great deal of affection for them, "Memories of Murder" plays less like a conventional cop movie and more like a regional comedy filled with rich insights into the subtle truths of human nature. The relationship between Seo, the investigator from Seoul, and Park Doo-man, the more rational of the two local officers, is intriguing and complex, as we watch them bicker and brawl and engage in petty power struggles, while slowly coming to realize that each has something of value to teach the other if only they can set aside their egos long enough to listen. Saddled with even-then antiquated technologies, Seo and Park are forced to rely on good old investigative footwork and informed intuition to try and solve the case. There are strong performances by one and all, and a fine sense of atmosphere in the setting. Those looking for a neatly tied-up resolution to the case may find themselves disappointed at movie's end. But the rich rewards of setting and character should be compensation enough.

Lorenzo von Matterhorn
Lorenzo von Matterhorn

Super Reviewer

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