Based on a string of unsolved murders that terrorized South Korea's rural Gyunggi Province in the late '80s, Bong Joon-Ho's second feature is produced with all the polish typical of recent Korean genre movies. It's also pretty frightening, but not in the way you might expect in a serial-killer thriller. What's really scary isn't that there's a strangler on the loose, but that the cops in charge of the investigation are sadistic thugs who aren't above fabricating evidence and torturing the mentally retarded in order to extract phony confessions. When the raped and strangled body of a young woman is found in a grassy meadow, local detective Park Doo-Man (Song Roe-Ho) and his dimwit sidekick, Jo Young-Goo (Kim Nae-Ha), are assigned to the case. Even if these incompetents could manage to keep the rubberneckers, the press and their fellow cops from trampling all over the crime scene, there are precious few clues to be found; the killer appears to have meticulously careful about leaving behind any evidence. After a second body turns up close to a railroad track, Seo Tae-Yoon (Kim Sang-Kyung), a hotshot detective who's on loan from Seoul, notices a disturbing pattern: All the women were found with an undergarment either pulled up over their head or wrapped around their neck, and both victims were wearing at least one article of red clothing. When the badly decomposed corpse of yet another victim most likely the killer's first a still more chilling piece of the puzzle emerges: All three women were killed on rainy nights, not long after a local radio station received a request to play an obscure, lachrymose pop song entitled "Sad Letter." Knowing beforehand that the killer won't be caught makes Bong's film a bit like THE TOWN THAT DREADED SUNDOWN (1976), but the foregone conclusion only adds an extra layer of fatalism to this tale of ineffectual authority and abusive power. Throughout the film, air-raid sirens, civil defense drills and demonstrations remind the audience of a larger threat looming over South Korea: the nation's mysterious and unpredictable neighbor to the north.
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- Released: 2003
- Rating: NR
- Review: Based on a string of unsolved murders that terrorized South Korea's rural Gyunggi Province in the late '80s, Bong Joon-Ho's second feature is produced with all the polish typical of recent Korean genre movies. It's also pretty frightening, but not in the w… (more)