This is a South Korean dark criminal drama film that is inspired by real-life events and murderer. In fact, it is even shot in the same place as where the real murders happened. What’s more, this film is the Director’s, Na Hong-Jin, debut film and people have already praised it to be one of the best South Korean films ever made. But what made it so great? I’m here to take a look at the factors.
For basic premise, we have Joong Ho who was a former detective working as a pimp. There are a few of his girls who mysteriously disappeared and he starts to suspect someone is selling them off. When he sent Mi Jin, another of his girl, to take on a job offer from a customer, he discovers that it is the same person that has a connection with all his missing girls. Turns out, the guy is someone who is beyond his comprehension and their path will meet in a gruesome way.
First of all, what I really like about this piece is the way everything is structured. The whole story focuses on Joong Ho trying to save Mi Jin while bringing the murderer to justice. There are no other minor or subplots to detract from this sole story path. The film picks up the pace considerably not long after the beginning with action/chasing scenes being played out in sequence. They look authentic and is not dramatised much, with none of that kung-fu stuff that happens in HK movie. This is real street fight style which is raw and natural. The Director knows when to slow the pace for some intimate moments between Joong Ho and other characters and also for the treatment of the murderer by other people. They each show their own perspective
The actors play their roles very well, with Joong Ho looking truly desperate, and the murderer acting really psychotic, but subtly. There is a sense that you can identify their characters through actions and body languages, and there is not much dialogues exchange between them. Music plays in a very subtle parts of the film, but they are effective. Most of the time they are combined with environmental sounds of rain to maximise the emotional impact of the scenes. However, there are some quiet parts which fully bring out the true human nature and horror of a psychopath.