Memoir of a Murderer is yet another absolutely brilliant movie to come out of South Korea. Intelligent, intense, heartbreaking, and bloody. Yet somehow equally full of life and death!
I watched Memoir of a Murderer fully expecting to like it. After all, it’s no secret that we have a huge soft spot for Korean movies here at Heaven of Horror.
Still, this also tends to set you up for disappointment. The big drawback of setting your expectations too high. Fortunately, South Korea has once again delivered at the level I’ve come to expect.
Memoirs of a Murderer is not a feel-good movie, but it is very much full of heart. And well, yes, blood and murder. Lots and lots of murder!
The lead character suffers from dementia and begins losing huge chunks of time during the day. Many years earlier, he also suffered brain trauma after a car accident and it seems that the two are connected.
This results in him getting facial twitches when coming to the end of any lucid spell.
The horror of standing across from your enemy and suddenly feel your mind and control slipping away is definitely palpable.
At the same time, no character in 100% good or bad all the time. This is one of the things I truly love about these movies; The characters are flawed and real. Not for the purpose of being flawed, but simply because that’s the way human beings are.
Well-known actors from South Korea
If you’ve watched a few Korean movies in the past, you will probably recognize several of the faces in Memoir of a Murderer.
The lead character in Memoir of a Murderer is played by Kyoung-gu Sul, who can also be seen in Lucid Dream. Yet another South Korean movie available on Netflix. Though this isn’t really one of the better stories or productions.
Also, one a the main characters in this movie also played the lead in Pandora (which is on Netflix now). His name is Nam-gil Kim and he is a great example of someone Hollywood could easily use in their own productions as well. He’s tall, handsome, and can play the hero and villain with equal conviction.
But really, even if you’ve never watched a movie from South Korea before, you can start here.
Memoir of a Murderer is a great story and extremely well-produced movie. Very much to the standard of any major English-speaking country.
An obvious choice for a remake
We’ve already seen quite a few remakes of Asian horror movies. The South Korean thriller Oldboy is probably one of the best-known examples since the original had already reached a worldwide audience.
Another example is Martin Scorsese’s The Departed from 2006. This movie was a remake of the Hong Kong movie Infernal Affairs (original title: Mou gaan dou) from 2002. Scorsese’s remake won him both an Academy Award and a Golden Globe for Best Director. In fact, The Departed even won “Best Motion Picture of the Year” at the Academy Awards.
Memoir of a Murder is definitely another great example of a South Korean movie that would probably be a huge success if remade as an English version. Still, I hope many will choose to watch the original since the message and story are very universal.
Memoir of a Murderer deserves a worldwide audience
I realize not all that many people will get the chance to watch Memoir of a Murderer at a movie theater. Personally, I hope Netflix will be quick to pick this up.
Netflix definitely seems to be very aware of South Korean success movies. They were quick to secure the rights for the brilliant zombie-movie success Train to Busan and I think this movie deserves the same exposure to a worldwide audience.
Memoir of a Murderer was directed by Shin-yeon Won. After watching his amazing 2013 movie The Suspect (Yong-eui-ja), I’ll always give his work a chance.
Watch it when you get the chance – whether in a movie theater or at home when this becomes possible.
Memoir of a Murderer was released in limited US theaters on September 8, 2017.
>>> Also, make sure you check out our list of “Must-See South Korean Horror Movies and Thrillers!“
Director: Won Shin-yun
Cast: Seol Kyung-gu / Kim Nam-gil / Kim Seol-hyun / Oh Dal-su
Byung-soo, a retired serial killer, lives a quiet life with his daughter Eun-hee, who has cared for him ever since his Alzheimer’s diagnosis. When Eun-hee brings home her new boyfriend Tae-ju, Byung-soo realizes Tae-ju is a serial killer too. To save his daughter, Byung-sop must fight Tae-ju as well as his own mind.