Director: Jeong Byung-gil
Starring: Jeong Jae-young, Park Si-hoo, Jeong Hae-gyoon, Kim Young-ae, Choi Won-young, Jo Eun-ji
On the heels of a vicious criminal, Lieutenant Choi (Jung Jae-young) engages in a ferocious fight that leaves him scarred and the killer shot. With the murderer escaping and disappearing for years, the case comes up under the statute of limitations and the prosectution becomes impossible. Years later, a book is published, with the author claiming responsibility for his crimes along with details unknown to the public concerning the case. The book quickly sells like hotcakes and the handsome author, Lee Doo-seok (Park Si-hoo) becomes a celebrity for his looks and apparent repentance. With the new reappearance of the case in the media spotlight, Lt. Choi, as well as the victims’ families find their world turned upside down again. As Choi looks to establish whether Lee is the true killer, the families of the deceased have their own plan for revenge now that the killer has been revealed.
Director Jeong Byeong-gil directs his first feature film, this fairly entertaining action thriller that for the most part succeeds but has some odd missteps along the way. Shot in an engaging style with a lot of dynamic camera movement and atmosphere, the film looks great. With the film told in multiple time periods, there is great care to differentiate the eras and stylistically, each has its own identity. The action in the film is a point of contention for me, while these scenes are long and actually pretty exciting, there’s a tendency to add a bit of exaggerated elements which took me out of the picture. It is nothing too major and those familiar with Korean action will feel right at home, but the unnecessary use of wirework and the infusion of little bits of humor in the action is at odds with the tone of the rest of the film and what I wanted out of the picture.
Jung Jae-young is good as Choi, the detective with a personal stake in catching the killer. He’s dogged and down-and-out in a way that makes him easy to root for. When you see how determined he is despite the odds against him, you feel a strong sense of honor but with the hint of desperation and darkness. It’s an effective performance and he carries the film well. Park Si-hoo is an excellent opponent for Jung, he is charismatic, cool, collected, and always seems to have something planned. His ability to use the media as a weapon is excellent and the commentary of headline grabbing news sources is a reflection of the media driven news of today. I certainly see a strong future for the relative newcomer.
In the end, Confession of Murder is a compelling and entertaining little film with a bit of odd filmmaking choices that shouldn’t detract too much from the good acting and solid story. Good character moments and stuntwork will be memorable for the general audiences, but those looking for more than just a fun engaging film, may be let down with the populist approach taken. Certainly worth more than a watch, Confession of Murder hits a lot of right spots for a good movie night.
Special thanks to Well Go USA for providing a viewing copy!