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Issue #117a HOME E-mail: mail@dighkmovies.com BACK ISSUES July 22nd, 2002

Tell Me Something
(1999; Koo & C Film Production / Cinema Service & Kookmin Venture Capital)

A Masterpiece
Highly Recommended
Very Good
Marginal Recommendation
Not Recommended
Definitely Not Recommended

Black trash bags full of blood and severed body parts are turning up in various locations throughout Seoul. Forensic investigation reveals that sections from various bodies have been mixed together and that the amputations were performed in a very precise and professional manner. The killer also cut off all finger prints, making identification of the victims difficult. Under investigation by the Internal Affairs department for allegedly accepting payoffs (in order to cover his mother's mounting medical expenses), gifted detective Cho (SHIRI's Han Suk-gyu) is offered a chance at redemption if he can crack the case. Assembling a team of officers, Cho is able to learn the identity of one cadaver, via the crowns in the man's teeth, and eventually ascertains that there is a grisly pattern to the way in which these gruesome bundles have been assembled. The identified man cited museum worker Chae Su-yeon (CHRISTMAS IN AUGUST's Shim Eun-ha) as his contact in dental records and she is able to identify all of the victims, since they were her ex-lovers. Cho begins to watch over the woman, while also investigating the most likely suspect, Kim Ki-yeon (Yu Sang-jun), a strange medical student obsessed with Su-yeon. However, certain aspects of the case do not add up, and Su-yeon's behavior and unwillingness to divulge certain information cast her as something more than an innocent victim.

TELL ME SOMETHING is a very well crafted production that consistently impresses on a technical level. The performers are all effective and the enigma of the killer's identity, coupled with the mechanics of Cho's search, consistently intrigues. Director Chang Youn-hyun scores additional points via some offbeat musical choices, particularly his eerily effective use of "Boadicea" from Enya's self-titled 1986 album to accompany a flashback depicting parental abuse. On a less auspicious note, this is yet another serial killer movie that borrows stylistics from SE7EN, particularly during an extended night sequence set in an alleyway during a heavy rainfall. The plot machinations needed to get everyone in place for the climax are a bit creaky and the fate of Cho's middle-aged, overweight partner (played by Chang Hang-sun) is set in stone the minute he appears onscreen. While aspects of the plot are similar to Hollywood productions, by the second half, the movie has begun to embrace the sort of ambiguity that is a common trait of Japanese horror. A key difference here is that TELL ME SOMETHING has no obvious basis in the supernatural, meaning that some will view its denouement with even greater dissatisfaction. That said, the visuals and foreboding atmosphere will still be sufficiently rewarding for viewers who do not mind there being a few ill-fitting pieces in their puzzle, just so long as the representation is 95% intact. The squeamish are warned that this is one of the bloodiest movies of recent years though, to Chang's credit, the crimson tides are frequently used in creative and exhilarating ways.

Cover art courtesy Kino on Video.

Han Suk-gyu (right). Image courtesy Kino on Video.

Shim Eun-ha and Han Suk-gyu. Image courtesy Kino on Video.
Kino on Video #K237 (U.S. Label)

Dolby Digital 5.1

Sync Sound Korean and Dubbed English Language Tracks

Optional English Subtitles

16 Chapters Illustrated In the Menu With Clips

Letterboxed (ratio varies between approximately 1.70:1 and 1.75:1)

Coded for ALL Regions

Macrovision Encoded

118 Minutes

Contains brutal violence, graphic horror, coarse language, and brief nudity

DVD menu courtesy Kino on Video.

Hong Kong: III
Singapore: PG [Passed With Cuts]
South Korea: 18
United States: R (Strong Bloody Violence and Gruesome Images, Some Language and Nudity)

One of the main attributes of recent South Korean productions is their slick photography, often the equal of that seen in far more expensive Hollywood fare. Unfortunately, Kino's transfer does not always do cinematographer Kim Sung-bok's work justice. The image is consistently grainy during brightly lit daylight exteriors, the source material is visited by speckles, and the lack of anamorphic enhancement results in some unnecessary instability. No video mattes have been utilized in the transfer (the box incorrectly lists the ratio as 1.85:1, the dimensions that video mattes would have provided), causing the ratio to change throughout and the soft matte edge to be distractingly visible in some set-ups. Thankfully, colors are deep, blacks are strong, and details levels are good. The sound is quite satisfying, with plenty of atmosphere and rear channel activity, though even this is not enough to make the laboured English dubtrack any more bearable. Kino's domestic trailer (which identifies this as "Asia's most popular horror film" -- while TELL ME SOMETHING was a certified hit, shouldn't that title still be held by THE RING?) and a still gallery are the only supplements and there is a disruptive later change at 1:13:04.

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