Wednesday, 15 December 2010


Bong Joon-ho is one of the most commercially successful South Korean directors, each of his films is dissimilar from the last, but each has a distinct Korean quality. Memories of Murder (2003) was based on a true unsolved serial-killer case that horrified South Korea between 1986 and 1991. He followed up with the 2006 monster movie The Host. Bong’s latest is the psychological thriller Mother (2009).

Mothers will go to any length to protect their male offspring; Do-jun’s mother is certainly no exception. Do-jun is 27 year-old with a mental age of six or seven who still sleeps with mother; to make matters worse he suffers from bouts of amnesia. When a sexually promiscuous teenage schoolgirl is discovered dead on a rooftop Do-jun is arrested and charged with murder. Mother is convinced that her son is incapable of such an appalling crime and sets out to prove his innocence.

Veteran Korean screen icon Kim Hye-ja plays Mother while Won Bin portrays her complex mentally retarded son, a fascinating film that deserves to be widely seen. The dancing mothers scene, where a group of middle-aged women dance in a moving bus, proves why Bong is seen as such a great filmmaker. If you enjoy Mother make sure you search out Memories of Murder, I have include a previous ramble below.

Memories of Murder (2003)

The serial murders depicted in Memories of Murder (2003) took place in Korea in the small town of Hwaseong between 1986 and 1991. In total 10 women, ranging from a 14-year-old schoolgirl to a 71 year old was killed over a period of 6 years. The first incident, which involved the 71-year-old Mrs Lee took place in September 1986 the second murder took place in October of the same year. It was with this second murder, the body in the drainage ditch, that Bong Joon-ho opens this atmospheric and gripping thriller. The third and fourth murders followed before the end of the first year. This short period, for the first round of killings, ended in January 1987.

Following the third and fourth killings the Korean media sat up and took notice. The deaths stopped for a while with the sixth, seventh and eighth murders occurring over a three-year period. The eighth turned out to be a copycat and the killer was swiftly apprehended. The last two murders became more gruesome and violent. This was South Korea’s first full scale serial murder case but the culprit was never found. The film is not so much about the crimes themselves as about the desperate measures to detect them. Song Kang-ho (The Host, Lady Vengeance 2005, and Sympathy for Mr Vengeance 2002) plays Detective Park and Kim Song – Kyung is the big city inspector from Seoul. As with many other Korean movies this is well worth a look.

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