Tell Me Something


"High on gore, low on action. Tell Me Something replaces gunplay with graphically amputated limbs and car chases with exploding garbage bags."

- Reefer

Tell Me Something (1999)

Director: Chang Youn-hyun

Producer: Koo Bon-han, hang Youn-hyn

Cast: Han Seok-Kyu, Shim Eun-Ha, Chang Hang-sun, Yum Jung-ah

Running Time: 116 min.

Plot: Lieutenant Cho, while under investigation for corruption, is suddenly thrust into a high priority murder investigation. A killer is leaving garbage bags full of dismembered corpses around Seoul. With the amputated arms and legs mismatched, the victims are nearly impossible to identify.

Availability: This title is available at


NUMSKULL'S REVIEW: Tell ME something...why ruin a perfectly good suspense thriller with one of the most repetitive, redundant, unnecessary, and repetitive final shots in motion picture history? Perfectly good story, perfectly good ending, and they fuck it up with this really stupid final shot that says: "Here. Just in case you didn't get it the first time, here it is again." I mean, shit.

Maybe they were too busy worrying about whether or not the garbage bag scenes were bloody enough to notice that. Tell Me Something is not for the weak of heart, stomach, or mind; there are plenty of plot twists that will make the prospect of keeping up to speed a very unlikely one for inattentive viewers. Please note, however, that this doesn't really make it any better than many other movies of the same type. Aside from the spiffy musical accompaniment, including a number of mood-setting piano pieces and an energized version of "Red Right Hand" by Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, there's not a whole lot here to set it apart from this suspense thriller over here or that suspense thriller over there (except maybe the amount of gore, but that's not important).

Tell Me Something is solid, and functional, but not extraordinary. Those of you who normally take my reviews with a grain of salt might want to make it TWO grains for this one, as there is nothing "wrong" with the film; it just didn't do a whole lot for me. (Hence, only three paragraphs. Sorry.)


MIGHTY PEKING MAN'S REVIEW: I've been reading tidbits about Chang Yoon-hyun's thriller "Tell Me Something" on various resources on the web. Most of what I read were mixed feelings, but overall, I was surprised to see so many negative comments about it - everything from "there's not enough action" to "it's too much like Seven...", etc. Well, blah, blah and fucking blah. This ain't a John Woo movie or any other action movie for the matter. Anyone who thinks this was boring obviously has the attention span of a 3-year old kid on crack (as Numskull would say, or something similar to that). People have to learn how to sit through a perfectly entertaining film that doesn't involve big explosions, 5-minute shoot-outs or slapstick comedy scenes.

The poster art for "Tell Me Something" says it all - dark, mysterious and the two leads' faces don't exactly look like they're having the best day of their lives. In a sense, this art foreshadows the type of film you're getting into.

A cop, played by Han Seok-Kyu ("Shiri" and "Christmas in August") is currently being investigated for possible police corruption. Just when he thinks this is the toughest situation he's ever faced as a working-cop, things start to get worse: plastic bags filled with freshly cut bodyparts begin popping up in streets, elevators and playgrounds and he's just been assigned to the case. Some of the bodyparts found are soon linked to a beautiful, but estranged, woman played by Shim Eun-ha ("Interview" and also "Christmas in August"), who seemed to have had some type of relationship with the victims in the past. This instantly makes her an accountable suspect - but as we know, this would be way to easy for the cop and the audience to endure.

Trust me folks, this is way cooler than it sounds. From this point on, the suspense and intrigue piles on. Suspects become victims and victims becomes suspects. More and more bodies, less and less answers. It's apparent that the makers of this film wanted to shock people with gore and realistic images of autopsy scenes, some of which reveal some of the best make-up work I've ever seen - especially for a Korean film that's 1/16 the budget of an average Hollywood film.

One crucial element that really modifies certain scenes is the use of it's soundtrack. Of course, this is the case with many movies, but with "Tell Me Something", it has some real inspiring music that's almost unfitting but oddly fits well - especially during one of the last scenes of the film before the credits roll. Also, surprisingly in this soundtrack, is the presence of a creepy, great song called "The Crawl" by Placebo which plays a during a crucial part of the film.

"Tell Me Something" pulls no punches, and talk about a terrific ending. Han Seok-Kyu, Shim Eun-ha and the entire cast are excellent.


REEFER'S REVIEW: Don't you just hate it when you are taking out the garbage and you accidentally rip the bag and make an ungodly mess? After watching Tell Me Something, you will understand that egg shells, banana peels, and assorted trash poured onto your floor would be a blessing compared to what could have happened. When Hefty bags get poked here, aside from gallons of blood, body parts come sliding out. Try and sop up that with a roll of Bounty!! Mysteriously, these bags of mismatched parts are popping up on elevators, basketball courts, inside of cars, and on the expressway.

While being investigated for corruption and mourning the recent death of his mother, Lieutenant Cho is suddenly assigned to this intriguing mystery. A mixture of macho stoicism and keen attention to detail, Cho makes an interesting movie cop. His scenes with dialogue seem limited. He's more introspective than most big screen constables. At times, he almost vanishes into the scenery, but that is not to say he lacks screen presence. It is indeed an odd mixture.

One could label the majority of this film's performances as cold or plain, but that would be too simple. I believe this to be purposeful. Director Chang Youn-hyun paints a world of subtle gloom where its inhabitants seem to have given up on hope. This bleakness may bother some.

Cho's investigation eventually leads him to Chae, a lonely museum curator. As it happens, Chae has been romantically involved with each of the victims. Because Chae has seemly blocked out her past mentally, Cho chooses keep her under round-the-clock surveillance. Suspects begin to pop up everywhere as one murder scene leads to another. One of the real treats of this film is the logical way the narrative proceeds. Oh there are twists a'plenty, but there is always a path that leads to them.

Reminiscent of the American film Seven, Tell Me Something is eerily dark and methodically moves at its own pace. High on gore, low on action. TMS replaces gunplay with graphically amputated limbs and car chases with exploding garbage bags. Director Chang Youn-hyun tells his story with creepiness to spare. Like a two-hour episode of the X-Files, this film features plenty of flashlight and umbrella moments. Plus, the use of music and sudden sound FX creates more that a few uneasy pangs of dread.

It seems that the director understands this genre very well. He uses some of the serial killer cliches to lull the viewer into a false sense of security. Then during the last third of the film uses your own preconceptions to beat you senseless, dropping your jaw to the floor. But if you beat him and figure it out beforehand, you'll still be rattled by the near flawless execution (so to speak) of plot, character, setting, and mood.

Twisty ties anyone?