I’m having a hard time putting my finger on exactly what Bong Joon-ho is doing with genre, but that’s the thrill of it: in The Host, he’s transcending the monster horror formula, and this previous movie is a police procedural that’s equally infused with dark humor, outbursts of violence, and human moments that are all the more touching because you didn’t see them coming. Byeon Hie-bong, who played the slacker father in The Host, is a small-town cop trying to solve Korea’s first serial murder case. It all starts like any episode of Prime Suspect, but somehow the cops keep falling down, they can’t keep farmers from running over the evidence with tractors, and they’re not above beating confessions out of retards. Shot as beautifully as The Host and every bit as unpredictable, Memories of Murder isn’t exactly a deconstruction of the whodunit, but a strange and beautiful mutation. I want to see it again soon.

Salinui chueok. Bong Joon-ho, 2003. ****