Review by Mountain Monkey
SCUM Rating: ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
Since ‘Old Boy’ hacked its way onto the scene way back in 2003, we’ve come to expect at least one South Korean thriller to put us on the seat of our pants every year. ‘Confession of Murder’, directed by newcomer Jeong Byeong-gil, seems to suit the profile of the Korean thriller for the year, but not entirely.
Following in the tradition of ‘The Chaser’ (2008), ‘I Saw the Devil’ (2010) and ‘Memories of Murder’ (2003) – in which an array of hapless detectives chase serial killers through a mind-boggling array of plot twists – ‘Confession of Murder’ follows the same formula, but with mixed results.
The first 10 minutes of the film tries to establish the rhythm for what’s to follow – a shaky hand-held camera follows an intense foot chase between the serial killer and lucked-out detective (Lt. Choi Hyeong-goo, played by Jung Jae-young). The serial killer, of course, escapes in dramatic fashion and we make a giddy jump 15 years into the future, where the statute of limitations lapses on the unsolved serial killer case.
Taking advantage of this expiry, the devious killer – an unbelievably youthful looking Lee Doo-seok, played by Park Si-hoo – confesses on prime time TV to the murders, which he details in a book that he intends to flog. Good looks appear to mean everything these days, so Lee inevitably becomes a celebrity and a very wealthy man from his book.
Given that people were actually murdered by this devilish cherub, relatives of Lee’s victims plot to kidnap and kill him. Their bungling attempts at abduction introduces some humor to the otherwise heavy plot, but this tends to slow things down a bit. The car chase scenes between the would-be abductors and Lee’s henchmen is somewhat humorous, but also rather tedious.
Things fall into place towards the second half of the movie, but I couldn’t help but feel that the especially poor soundtrack – filled with rock-rap riffs and other cheesy action movie sounds from the 90s – were really distracting and undermine an otherwise entertaining movie.
There was some underlying social commentary on how the broadcast media has become so powerful and pervasive that it has the potential to replace a proper judicial system, but this commentary was not further developed and seems rather dated in this age of the internet.
The twisting plot and the two leading actors keep the movie moving along, but ‘Confession of Murder’ ultimately does not reach the levels of cinematic intensity set by ‘The Chaser’ and its ilk – it’s good enough to keep you glued to your seat though, right to the bittersweet end.