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South Korea 1999


Chang Yoon-Hyun

Han Suk-kyu
Shim Eun-ha
Jang Hang-Seon
Yum Jung-ah
Yu Jun-Sang

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Tell Me Something

Story: Seoul is terrorized by a serial killer, who surgically cuts his victims into pieces and dumps several mixed bags of body parts randomly in town. The special unit lead by Detective Cho (Han Suk-kyu) soon can identify one of the victims because of its dental records. Chae Su-Yeon (Shim Eun-ha) is mentioned as a relative and so the police calls her in.
It appears that Su-yeon knew every one of the victims since she had a love relationship with all of them in the course of her life. For Detective Cho a race against time starts as Su-yeon could be the next victim. However, the killer always seems to be one step ahead of Cho...

Review: "Tell Me Something" doesn't make a big deal of the fact that American thrillers like "Se7en" had a great influence on it, which is at the same time one of the movie's strengths. The setting is very gritty, dusky, it seems to be constantly raining and a brutal killer does his rounds. What else could one wish for? For instance, cutting the movie for about half an hour would have been nice. Unfortunately, the movie is oftentimes too slow-paced and there are moments where nothing important is happening at all.

Detective Cho is a discredited policeman, with whom it is easy to sympathize. The case he is working on is gruesome and nothing for the ill-hearted. When he gets to know Su-yeon who he might have to protect since she could be the next victim, the case becomes even personal, because this mysterious woman starts to let Cho feel attracted to her. Yet, it seems to be not that easy to get something out of her concerning her past. Some dark secret, something horrible that happened to her prevents her from remembering. In order to solve the case it is necessary to get a hold of her memories, though. Slowly Cho builds up a bond of trust between him and Su-yeon until she finally starts to come out of her shell.
The relationship between the two main characters is a quite and subtle love story, which however never starts to take effect. This is a good choice as it works quite well in the movie, although it's also interesting to see how the relationship evolves.

Mainly, the movie consists of the typical police work. Crimes scenes are investigated, clues are collected, facts are compiled etc. This starts to become tiring, if not boring. On the other hand you have to pay careful attention, as the things that are mentioned at the beginning and which seemed unimportant anyway, are refered to at the end again, helping to unriddle and understand the truth. An alert mind and a fast mental capacity are an absolute necessity if you want to understand the movie. And yet, for some viewers the ending will remain a little bit too confusing or loosely connected. The audience is supposed to figure out most of the movie on their own, which is in fact possible as already mentioned, as long as you don't loose your patience and pay good attention the whole movie through.

The movie likes to play with the audience and its expectations, oftentimes letting us believe that we finally know who the killer is until we get to know better. At the end, there is also a final surprise, altough I have to say that the ending didn't catch me off-guard at all, as I already expected something like this. For everyone else, who doesn't always think through everything 10 times more than necessary, the movie holds ready a good twist. Nonetheless, to once more stress this out as one of the movie's sore points, the ending remains somewhat confusing.

As already said, the movie can score with its two good main actors. Especially Cho is nicely drawn, being very human in this dark world, as he accepted a bribe in order to be able to help his ill mother. To end the internal investigation of him it's very crucial for him to solve the serial killer case. In contrast, the other characters are a little bit too shallow as we get to know only very little about them.

Very annoying are some of the logical mistakes of the movie. Why gives Cho his only weapon to a civilian, when he is on his way to a place where he believes the serial killer to have taken residence? Why does he have to flee the car, that he is nearly run down by, in front of a fence, instead just returning inside the building he just came out? Why didn't he memorize the car's number plate? He even had two opportunities to do so...
Besides these script flaws, which the movie doesn't lack of, the movie does in fact have a good story with a lot of twists. However, quite too often the movie's flow falters.

If you have nothing against slow thrillers, then "Tell Me Something" will be able to entertain you, despite some serious flaws. The gritty cinematography is very well done. Above all else the lighting in several scenes is really good, creating a tense and eerie atmosphere. The dissecting scenes are all very realistic, making a good stomach a must! Furthermore, the movie does also provide a nice soundtrack, which even includes some remixed western pieces, as the observant viewer won't miss to notice.
As a Korean version of "Se7en" "Tell Me Something" isn't bad and at some points even quite original, but sadly one couldn't exploit the movie's full potential.

(Author: Manfred Selzer)
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