Tell Me Something (1999)
By: David Michael Brown on July 4, 2008  |  Comments  |  Bookmark and Share
Eastern Eye (Australia). Region 4, PAL. 1.78:1 (16:9 enhanced). Korean DD 5.1, Korean DD 2.0. English Subtitles. 112 minutes
The Movie
Director: Yoon-Hyun Chang
Starring: Suk-kyu Han, Eun-ha Shim, Hang-Seon Jang
Screenplay: Yoon-Hyun Chang, Eun-Ah In, Eun-Jeong Kim, Su-chang Kong, Hye-Weon Shim
Country: South Korea
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That tried and trusted genre standby the serial killer movie has become a lazy excuse for many films. Since the days when David Fincher's Se7en kick started a modern movie trend things have definitely gone downhill. Even the pin up boy of the genre Hannibal Lector become a clichéd joke rather that the terrifying figure he cut in Jonathan Demme's The Silence of the Lambs. As Hollywood became more desperate to shock and horrify their audiences into emptying their wallets, they have pushed the boundaries of taste in schlocky horror picture shows like Captivity but rather than pull in a new audience, they have driven them away. Fincher returned with Zodiac and tried to crank things back, concentrating more on police procedure than severed limbs, but failed to excite audiences and the less said about tragic star vehicles like 88 Minutes with Al Pacino the better.

Somewhere in this bloody mess falls the Korean serial killer film Tell Me Something. Learning from recent misfires director Chang Youn-Hyun has pieced together a gory affair that is visually striking, will keep you guessing, and is awash with bin bags full of body parts. Much like Fincher's first foray into the genre, the film cleverly avoids revealing who the killer actually is. The viewer discovers the murderer's identity as Lieutenant Cho does on screen. We join the sleuth as a large amount of bin bags loaded with random severed body parts are being discovered around town. When the police place these parts together they soon realise that three men have been slaughtered but there seems to be no connection between the cadavers. That is until they discover that they had all had relations with one woman. As Lieutenant Cho begins to interrogate Chae Su-yeon they form a bond and a relationship that will cloud his judgement. Is he beginning a relationship with a murderer or a victim of coincidence? While the outcome seems obvious at first the frenzied denouement still has surprises up its sleeve.

This certainly is a gory film but most of the plasma on display is the aftermath of violence rather than the actual event. Saying that there is one particularly nasty attack that will definitely shock, but for the most part, the frissons are provided in those disgusting moments when a body bag is discovered. The bag found in the lift in particular will have viewers squirming with demented glee. Disgusting the audience isn't what this film is about, however, the director is more interested in exploring the emotional stresses and strains that drive a policemen and the dilemmas they are often faced with in their careers. This aspect of the film certainly works but does result in pacing issues during the films middle third.

The film is beautifully crafted and the director is perfectly assisted by his entire cast. Han Suk-Gyu as Lieutenant Cho certainly has every opportunity to over act but manages to pull in the reins, apart from the films denouement, but to be honest; the character really has every excuse to go off the rails.
The anamorphic 1.78:1 image is clear and sharp. The blacks are dark and forbidding and the splashes of blood red plasma are bright and vibrant. This is an excellent transfer, free of any discernable grain or dirt.
Clear and loud, the Korean 5.1 surround mix is very effective adding to many of the jolts that the visuals throw at the audience.
Extra Features
Unlike most Madman titles the extras are a bit slim. The theatrical trailer and a stills gallery are all that's on offer.
The Verdict
Movie Score
Disc Score
Overall Score
Glossy and stylish, Tell Me Something is an excellent entry into the annals of the serial killer and yet another excellent addition to the ever growing list of classy genre titles being delivered by Korean cinema. Deliciously macabre and shocking in all the right places, the film does suffer from a few dull moments of contemplation but more than makes up for it with a flurry of bloody body parts to jolt the audience back to life. Add to that a grim downbeat ending and the phrase the Korean Se7en being bandied about makes even more sense.

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