9/21/13

Confession of Murder (South Korea)

Confession of Murder continues Korea's success in delivering some of the most engaging and satisfying genre experiences out there. Taking what seems to be a tired old trope and making it into something surprising and visceral. The film opens with a cop attacked by a serial killer who he's been tracking. After the officer is wounded in the pitched running battle the bad guy gets away. Fast forward fifteen years and the murderer still hasn't been apprehended. A multi-year grudge, unresolved deaths ... you know where this is going, right? Well ... So did I but step into the theater and brace yourself. Things are gonna get wild.

After that opening scene we learn that 15 years is the statute of limitations for murder. Before you can ask yourself what idiots came up with that idea a young, brash cocky bastard is holding a press conference to announce he's the killer. With a new book as the lucrative path to confession. Obviously this doesn't go over too well with the man who ran the long cold case. Nor with some of the victims family who have the will, means and skills to exact their own direct revenge.

Twists and turns will follow including at least two that I didn't see coming - at all. The director seamless marries thriller twists and tension, dynamic camerawork (including some well used for the storytelling flying cameras between building floors), off the hook action and old fashioned melodrama. Yep, this one kicks ass.

Oh yes ... the action. You've got fights, you've got car chases, you've got poisonous snakes unleashed in hotel pools. All high octane and incredibly dangerous looking. Specifically one of the most off the charts car chase sequences I've ever seen. Shot seamlessly enough that I'm willing to be significant portions are continuous moving shots. Maybe the risky nature of the stunt work isn't so surprising once you recognize the film was directed by the guy who did the documentary Action Boys about the world of Korean stuntmen. I didn't love that doc, but I recall that the guys in that field would go to lengths that were considerably more extreme (and often unwise) compared to a lot of other folks. Ethical issues aside it makes for some riveting and gripping cinema.

Like in all such situations where one builds to an incredibly high crescendo it's hard for the ending to be as satisfying as the journey.  But it's mild departure from a top notch experience - I'd happily take the ride that is Confession of Murder again at the first opportunity.

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