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  Publicity Stills of "Voice of a Murderer"
(Courtesy from Encore Films)

In Korean with English and Chinese Subtitles
Director: PARK Jin-pyo
Cast: SOL Kyung-gu (Rikidozan: A Hero Extraordinaire, Silmido, Public Enemy), KIM Nam-joo (I Love You), KANG Dong-won (Maundy Thursday, Duelist, Too Beautiful to Lie)
Runtime: 2 hrs 2 mins
Released By: Cathay-Keris Films & Encore Films
Rating: PG
Official Website: www.encorefilms.com/voiceofmurderer

Opening Day: 4 October 2007


This movie is based on the true story of a murder that remains unsolved after 15 years.

One day, news anchorman HAN Kyung-bae’s nine-year-old son, Sang-woo, disappears without a trace. Then the kidnapper’s nerve-racking phone threats begin, demanding a ransom of $100,000. When HAN’s wife, OH Ji-sun, calls the police, a detective with a secret investigative unit and forensics team take on the case. Despite their efforts, the cunning kidnapper makes a mockery of them as he slips through their dragnet and tells the parents of new methods to contact him.

Movie Review:

True crime stories have always appealed, and most recently we had Hollywood dig up a case from the past with Zodiac, about a serial killer loose in the 70s taunting both the police and the press. I guess we're always curious to explore crime events on hindsight, to see what went right or wrong, perhaps not to make the same mistakes and to learn from them.

Voice of a Murderer obtains its material from Korea's own case files, and essentially enacts events of the kidnapping of the lone child of national news anchorman Han Kyung-bae (Sol Kyung-gu) and housewife Oh Ji-sun (Kang Dong-won). You would probably know the outcome of the case if you do a little research, but frankly, even if you do, curiosity still beckons the
cat. Simply put, it has a rather straightforward narrative that spends the most of the first half hour painting the rosy picture of the family before the kidnapping happens, setting the stage with the emotional anchor firmly in place, and also squarely allows for fingers of responsibility (or lack thereof) to be pointed.

If life was like the movies, then you'd come to expect a few things, such as the police being involved and solving the crime with probably one or two hotshot detectives lending their expertise, or the parents taking things into their own hands, or the prey turns the table around on the hunters. All these makes interesting viewing, but unfortunately, real life is never like the reel one. What we have instead are plenty of frustrating moments, of missed opportunities, of deep emotional turmoil, and absolutely zero on any heroics.

The police are put in bad light, and their inexperience and incompetence show up so woefully. >From basic stakeout strategic errors to faulty forensics and lack of technological savvy, it is no wonder that Han sets out criticizing them regularly on his bulletins, until one day to find that like it or not, he has to work with them, and finds out first hand just how inept they are. The rest of the movie dwells on the emotional drama between husband and wife, how they are affected and having their characters change as a result, with the clock ticking by and entering into more than 40 days worth of cat-and-mouse gaming.

Zodiac was chilling, and probably bold because it drew to a conclusion somewhat, and despite being unsolved, it provided evidence, circumstantial or otherwise, for an audience to get themselves engaged. Here, because of the nature of the incident, what we are provided are a voice, and some random shadowy shots of suspects in caps luring around dark corners. The threat calls made to the family are the usual ransom ones that provide the usual "no cops" warning, and the "do as you told or else" messages. There are some suspects thrown up, but these are quite cursory, and didn't warrant enough screentime or have strong background or
motivation to back any hypothesis.

What was chilling however, was something like the trailer, where actual and real conversations and calls captured on tape recording, were actually played. It has the effect of putting you into the shoes of the recipient, and with any kidnapping case, plunging you into the great unknown. At the end of it all, you may sympathize, and feel sorry for, and the movie will serve as a reminder of lessons learnt, and also be an appeal for information.

Movie Rating:

(It's Crimewatch given the movie treatment)

Review by Stefan Shih


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