"I give this movie a se7en out of ten! Ok, not really, but that was too good to pass up."
AKA: H: Murmur
Director: Lee Jong-Hyeok
Producer: Oh Jeong-Wan
Writer: Lee Jong-Hyeok
Cast: Ji Jin-Hee, Yeom Jeong-A, Jo Seung-Wu, Seong Ji-Ru, Park Yong-Su, Gweon Hyeok-Pung, Kim Seon-Gyeong, Kim Bu-Seon, Min Wung-Gi, Park Gil-Su, Lee Eol, Kim In-Gweon
Running Time: 106 min.
Plot: See reviews below.
RAGING GAIJIN'S REVIEW: South Korean's answer to "Silence of the Lambs" and "Seven" is a pale imitation of those superior films. The plot is such: a serial killer is targeting pregnant women who are having children out of wedlock or happen to be lesbians. His MO fits another serial killer currently incarcerated and awaiting a death sentence. Two hotshot detectives try to derive clues from the imprisoned killer in hopes of catching his copycat before the bodies pile up.
Sound familiar? That's because it is. But "H" isn't nearly as good as the films that have paved the way before it. Ironically, the parts in which it deviates from the "Silence of the Lambs" formula are also where it's the weakest. Instead of making the Hannibal-like character a cold, calculating, and intelligent middle-aged man... they turn him into a young, baby-faced Korean kid who speaks in riddles and cryptic fortune cookie sayings. Not exactly an improvement. But that's just the beginning...
The cops in "H" get my vote for worst police department in all of South Korea. At one point, the main character, played by Ji Jin-hee, gets caught in traffic. Frustrated, he slaps his siren onto the hood of his car and drives into the opposing lane. A few seconds later, he has to swerve out of the way of two oncoming cars and crashes into a streetlamp, giving himself a concussion. Later, when he and his partner are tailing a suspect, they have the bright idea to *let the suspect know that they're following them*. His partner proceeds to drive like a maniac in order to catch up with this person, even willfully driving straight towards some people who are dining at an outdoor café. Basically, every cop acts like the prima donna that was Brad Pitt's character in "Seven", with no one to be the wise counterpoint of Morgan Freeman's character. It makes you wish that the generic "angry police chief" from so many American action movies were there just to take away their badges.
The best moment of the entire movie comes about twenty minutes in when Ji Jin-hee tails the copycat killer into a dance club. Since the killer can't stand lesbians, he becomes enraged when he sees a lesbian couple dancing together. So, what does he do? He grabs one of them and cuts her ear off, then slits her throat right in front of a slack-jawed Jin-hee. Cool, yeah, but that's one cool moment in a 106 minute-long sea of mediocrity.
The killer's motivation is explained late in the film and I'll admit that it's original, or at least something I'd never seen before. It's a convincing reason for someone to go insane, I suppose, but it's still not a convincing reason to watch this movie. From my experience, the South Korean films that try to ape a Hollywood formula are the worst. When South Korea forges its own path and tries to do something unique, that's when they succeed: "JSA", "Nowhere to Hide", "Oldboy", "Shiri", even "Resurrection of the Little Match Girl". Those are worth your time, unlike this movie.
In all fairness, "H" is a passable thriller if you absolutely have to sit through it once. But that's about all I'm willing to give it. And I'm not even going to get into what the "H" stands for either. It's explained at the very end of the movie but, needless to say, it's a third rate and unoriginal genre convention that's been overused in recent years. Hey, third rate and unoriginal... kinda like the whole movie.
RAGING GAIJIN'S RATING: 5/10
EQUINOX21'S REVIEW: For all fans of Se7en, H is sure to satisfy! Though bloodier than Se7en, it is slightly less polished and still very enjoyable. Don't be fooled by the listed 137-minute running time on the Korean DVD, the movie itself is only an hour and forty-some minutes. For the running time they must have added together the movie and all the extras and listed that total running time.
H is a serial killer movie about a copycat murderer. When the movie starts, it is roughly 10 months after 22-year old serial killer Shin Hyun (Jo Seung-woo) turned himself into the police by dragging in his 6th victim in a suitcase and dumping it onto Detective Han's desk. Now there is someone copying each of the original killings, exactly. Starting with 2 pregnant, unwed women. For help, the investigators in the case, Detective Kang (Ji Jin-hee) and Detective Kim (Yum Jung-ah), turn to Shin Hyun for insight into the potential suspect. But, taking a note from Dr. Hannibal Lecter, Shin Hyun is cryptic and not a whole lot of direct help. The detectives spend much of their time trying to figure out WHY Shin Hyun committed his murders so they can attempt to figure out the potential targets. There is more to it than just this, but so as not to give anything away, I'll leave it at that.
The acting was really good, especially from Ji Jin-hee, who plays a new detective on his first assignment. Yum Jung-ah plays Detective Kim, who lost her fiancee Detective Han, the investigator on the Shin Hyun case who committed suicide after it was over. She plays a very depressed woman who lost her husband-to-be, she's seems quiet and introspective, but I suspect that's how many people would be after a close loved one commits suicide. Jo Seung-woo's makes Shin Hyun appear to be a protégé of Hannibal Lecter, in that he's intelligent, insane, and a merciless killer.
To find out why the movie is called "H", you'll have to stick around until the very end of the movie. One warning I must give though is that this is a VERY bloody movie. It's far gorier than most serial killer movies I've seen (though no movie ever made will ever compare to the gore-factor of Ichi). I give this movie a se7en out of ten! Ok, not really, but that was too good to pass up.
EQUINOX21'S RATING: 8/10