The Korean revenge thriller has become one of the more popular forms of Asian cinema in recent years and I can see why. Various directors have managed to put together a lot of slick films based around variations of one person getting vengeance on another. I could obviously point to Park Chan-wook’s Vengeance Trilogy (Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance, Oldboy, and Lady Vengeance) as key examples, but there have been many other, enjoyable twisted ones as well (I Saw the Devil). Confession of Murder has all the ingredients of another interesting take on the genre, with its combination of slick action filmmaking and some satirical looks at the media, but it does not quite do enough to propel it to a higher level. Still, the Blu-ray is now available, so those with interest in this type of story can see for themselves.
The film is about a detective whose past does not quite come back to haunt, but rather throw the transgressions in his face in an effort to really piss him off. Jung Jae-young stars as Detective Choi Hyeong, the man in charge of hunting down a serial killer. The film opens with an intense chase that results in the killer getting away and Choi barely surviving. 15 years later, the statute of limitations for these crimes have expired, which leads to a new twist in the story. A man named Lee Doo-seok (Park Si-hoo) suddenly appears in public to announce his book release, where he admits to being the man responsible for the murders that took place years ago. As he is no longer in danger of being arrested, he goes on a media tour, seeking forgiveness from the families of his victims and promoting himself. This rightfully enrages Choi, but there may be more to this story than what is simply seen on the cover.
Confession of Murder wants to show off a lot of style. While it has a somewhat limited budget that is clear every time the film gets a bit too over-the-top for its own good, there are three very exciting chase sequences that are sure to delight action junkies. The opening of the film has this great foot chase that plays around with how involved the camera can be in the chase, with added moments of fist-fighting, and some terrific fluctuations in who has the upper hand. The giant car chase in the middle of the film may not sit in many top ten car chase lists (especially in a time where The Raid 2 has recently been released), but it has some great stunt work and creative ideas. Then there is a climactic chase with all sorts of action involved, at least creating a lot of variety. In all of this, director Jeong Byeong-gil certainly wants to keep the film energized by attempting new looks at the types of chases we have seen before.
I wish Byeong-gil had spent more time making the actual story more compelling. The nuts and bolts of the plot are quite solid, but at two hours, Confession of Murder feels very drawn out in a way that does not have the impact of the various twists that occur feel as effective as they could have been in a tighter script. When it becomes especially obvious where certain edits or modifications could have been made for the viewer (who does not have the responsibility to tinker with the story) it feels like a problem that should have been resolved.
Part of the problem is the depiction of the media. While the action has no problem with going gleefully over-the-top (despite the brutality involved), the way the film shows the media is not quite as cutthroat as it may want it to seem. In a world where the satirization of the media is fairly common, this film does little to really add much to the conversation. These segments of the film could have been brought down a notch, possibly increasing the impact of their effect on the story and the other themes that become clear.
Moving past what does not work though, Confession of Murder does have its merits. There are three key actors and they are all effective enough. The main story beats are actually pretty clever in terms of B-movie thrillers. I found the action to be intense and exciting, despite some visual effect problems here and there. Overall, the film is a decent watch, with some unique twists based around the statute of limitations rules were portrayed in in this story.
Confession of Murder arrives on Blu-ray with an AVC-encoded 180p transfer in 2.35:1. It stands to reason that the film looks very good, as it was shot digitally and has no real digital noise to speak of. The image is clean throughout, with the details registering just fine. The facial textures and up close looks at things like clothing or even the numerous blades and weapons in the film are finely detailed and consistent with the cool color pallet featured in the film. It is telling whenever the more obvious visual effects are in play, but that has little to do with the quality of the transfer, as this is basically how the film was intended to look. The black levels are also solid enough, though it sometimes brushes the wrong way when watching some colorful objects in the middle of the very dark environments. Still, it is a fine video transfer for the Blu-ray overall.
The film’s audio presentation for this Blu-ray features a lossless DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track that does a nice job of keeping things loud and clear when it comes to the action, but softer, yet clear in dialogue, when approaching the smaller-scaled scenes. The car chase is the biggest test of this audio track, as it features the loudest moments in the film, combined with the constant switching of locations in close proximity to each other. It is very well-handled for the most part, with the surround aspect playing well to what is required to keep the scene involving on an auditory level. Nothing to really push this score into a higher range, but it is a solid audio track all around.
I would imagine it comes down to the popularity of a film like this, but there is not much to see on this disc, aside from the feature, which is unfortunate.
- Behind the Scenes – A standard EPK
- Interviews – at about 6 minutes total, you get to hear from the two main stars of the film and their brief thoughts on the project.
If you have gone through plenty of other Korean revenge thrillers, then you may want to give Confessions of Murder a shot. It is not the most worthwhile of the bunch, but it does have some fun action and some interesting ideas that I just wish were better handled overall. The Blu-ray does a fine job of presenting the film, though it is lacking in extra features. A decent rental overall, but that opening chase is a cool way to suck you into the film initially.