ContactSales: Showbox, Seoul (email@example.com)
Theatrical release: South Korea, 8 Nov 2012.
Presented by Showbox/Mediaplex (SK). Produced by Dasepo Club (SK), Showbox/Mediaplex (SK). Executive producer: Yu Jeong-hun. Producers: Jeong Won-seok, Yu Jeong-hun.
Script: Jung Byung-gil. Photography: Kim Gi-tae. Editing: Nam Na-yeong. Music: Kim U-geun. Art direction: Yang Hong-sam. Costumes: Chae Gyeong-hwa. Sound: Park Jong-geun. Action: Gwon Gwi-deok. Special effects: Hong Jang-pyo. Visual effects: Yun Jae-hun.
Cast: Jeong Jae-yeong (Lieutenant Choi Hyeong-gu), Park Shi-hu (Lee Du-seok), Jeong Hae-gyun (J), Kim Yeong-ae (Han Ji-su, Su-yeon's mother), Choi Won-yeong (Jeong Tae-seok), Kim Jong-gu (Choi, the snake-catcher), Jo Eun-ji (Choi Gang-suk, aka Pumpkin, his daughter), Oh Yong (Gang Do-hyeok, the ex-con), Park Ung (Kim, Hyeong-gu's chief), Bae Seong-u (Gwang-su, Hyeong-gu's sidekick), Jang Mi-ja (book publisher), Nam Jeong-hui (Hyeong-gu's mother), Min Ji-a (Jeong Su-yeon, Ji-su's daughter), Ryu Je-seung (Jeong Hyeon-shik, Hyeong-gu's friend), Jang Gwang (NBC programme director), Lee Jae-gu (Park, NBC producer).
Confession of Murder 내가 살인범이다
Crime action drama
2012, colour, 2.35:1, 119 mins
Directed by Jung Byung-gil (정병길 | 鄭秉吉)
By Derek Elley
Thu, 29 November 2012, 09:15 AM (HKT)
Original blend of black comedy and action powers an offbeat serial-killer mystery. Asian and genre events.
Seoul, early winter, 2005. A masked man crashes through the window of a restaurant where police lieutenant Choi Hyeong-gu (Jeong Jae-yeong) is drunk at dinner and, after a fight between the two, the man kills a woman there. Hyeong-gu chases him but the man slips away after promising a special revenge. Some time later, on the night that the 15-year statute of limitations expires on the murderer of at least 10 women during 1982-90, Hyeong-gu's best friend, ex-boxer Jeong Hyeon-shik (Ryu Je-seung), commits suicide in front of him. Two years later, in the late autumn of 2007, a book is published by Lee Du-seok (Park Shi-hu) in which he claims to have committed the murders and describes them in great detail. The book becomes a media sensation and instant best-seller, and Du-seok attracts a fan following from young women. In a calculated publicity campaign, he begs forgiveness of the victims' parents and taunts Hyeong-gu, who is powerless to arrest him for the crimes. Meanwhile, businesswoman Han Ji-su (Kim Yeong-ae) - the mother of a potential 11th victim, Su-yeon (Min Ji-a), who went missing but whose body was never found - hires an ex-con friend, Gang Do-hyeok (Oh Yong), to help kidnap Du-seok and kill him after finding out where her daughter is. They are helped by a rural snake-catcher (Kim Jong-gu) and his daughter Gang-suk (Jo Eun-ji), an expert archer. After kidnapping Du-seok, Hyeong-gu traces their hideaway in the country and kidnaps him back, later releasing him. Hyeong-gu accepts Du-seok's challenge to join him on a TV discussion programme. But during the live broadcast, a man who calls himself J (Jeong Hae-gyun) phones in, claiming that he is the real murderer. Meanwhile, Gang-suk has gone rogue and plans to kill Du-seok as he leaves the TV studio.
Following his documentary on stuntmen, Action Boys 우린 액션배우다 (2008), writer-director JUNG Byung-gil 정병길 | 鄭秉吉 makes a strong feature debut with Confession of Murder 내가 살인범이다 (2012), an offbeat serial-murderer mystery that's a whodunit wrapped up in a black comedy and some eye-popping action sequences. Very different in tone from most South Korean crime dramas, and with action that's more Hong Kong (i.e. enjoyably over-the-top) than typical South Korean (i.e. obsessively violent), Confession motors along for 90 minutes with plenty of sharply-etched characters and a plot that keeps the audience hanging, until a Big Twist that's outrageously unbelievable but still doesn't prevent the movie careening on enjoyably for a further half-hour. This is one South Korean crime drama that doesn't seem a moment too long.
A versatile actor who can handle everything from tough guys (Righteous Ties 거룩한 계보 (2006)) to comedy (Castaway on the Moon 김씨표류기 (2008)) and romance (Someone Special 아는 여자 (2004)), JEONG Jae-yeong 정재영 | 鄭在詠 is perfect casting as a slobby detective who likes a drink or three and still lives with his widowed mum. There's good chemistry between him and TV drama star PARK Shi-hu 박시후 | 朴施厚, as an ice-cool guy who, after the statute of limitations has expired on a series of murders that Jeong's cop failed to solve, publishes a book claiming to be the killer. Though Park, 34, looks a tad too young for the role, that chemistry, and the audience's need to believe the two men's personal antagonism, is vital to driving the first two-thirds of the movie.
Director Jung shows considerable slight-of-hand in keeping the viewer hooked in other ways. The film starts gangbusters with a surprise fight and chase, introduces a whole set of new characters who have their own agenda with the self-professed killer, comes up with a grandstanding, four-minute action sequence on a motorway that's both comedic and totally original, and then keeps the twists coming during the second hour before another knockout car chase as a finale. The devil-may-care, unstoppable nature of the action ties in well with the movie's general tone, which caustically plays with celebrity culture, the public's appetite for it, and the media's own encouragement of the process. Confessions is never overtly comic, but it's also never grimly down-and-dirty like many South Korean crime thrillers. It manages to sustain an original tone of its own that balances a light touch with gripping action and procedural.
Only one sequence (the suicide of the detective's best friend) seems surplus to requirements; otherwise, and under NAM Na-yeong 남나영 | 南娜咏's ace editing, the film is as tight as a drum. In a sizeable cast, Jung assembles veterans (KIM Yeong-ae 김영애 | 金姈愛 as an icy matriarch, JANG Gwang 장광 as a bullying TV exec) alongside younger players like JO Eun-ji 조은지 | 趙恩智 (Driving with My Wife's Lover 아내의 애인을 만나다 (2006)) as a whizz with a bow an arrow, and TV's MIN Ji-a 민지아 in a crucial, "sweet girlfriend" part, and keeps all their different roles engaged in the plot rather than just as colourful cameos. At the end of the day, Confessions doesn't plumb any emotional depths but it's consistently entertaining and great fun.
The Korean title is that of the book that Park's character publishes, I Am a Murderer.