Monday, March 31, 2014

Review: Hello Murderer (2010)

Hello Murderer (aka Happy Murderer) (Review)
Kim Dong-wook/Kim Dong-wook, Yu Oh-seong/2010
Where to Watch:
Netflix Streaming
Amazon Prime

"...some films suffer from too much ambition, this one suffers from a lack of."

Amateur detective Jeong-min (Kim Dong-wook) and unemployed yet dedicated Young-suk (Yu Oh-seong) attempt to capture a serial killer who kills young women whenever it rains...

Hello Murderer is a murder mystery and slapstick, quirky comedy – or, at least it attempts to be. The story follows the mostly incompetent and usually slacking Jeong-min, who is also hated by his boss, as he tries to capture the serial killer. Meanwhile, Young-suk, a man who has been missing for years and has recently reappeared, wants to capture the serial killer for the monetary gains and to gain the respect of his family – his annoying wife and slightly irritating “rebellion” daughter (Shim Eun-kyung). As far as the story goes, that's basically it. Young-suk doesn't do much, and Jeong-min resorts to dressing in drag and odd investigation to capture him. The final act becomes a bit more eventful and consistent, but it also feels like drags a bit.

Much of Hello Murderer feels half-baked. It never really becomes a real mystery – the investigation is nearly nonexistent for the bulk of the film. The slapstick comedy is hit-or-miss – I did laugh out loud once or twice, but it never really felt like a comedy. So, both of the major elements of the film come up short, creating an inconsistent mash-up of clashing moods and tones. Sometimes it felt too serious for slapstick, and sometimes it was too bizarre and far-fetched for a genuine murder mystery. The characters never really become fully embodied or developed, and some aren't all too likable, either. The film even feels a bit lengthy due to its inconsistencies, and, since there isn't much mystery or comedy going on, it also feels uneventful. I was entertained, though, at least when something was actually going on.

Kim Dong-wook is good as the incompetent cop – it's a generic character trope for the genre, but he plays it decently. Yu Oh-seong delivers a better performance – it's a bit more demanding, requiring both quirkiness and emotion. Shim Eun-kyung is a favorite, her character may not be perfect, but she plays it very well. The music is by-the-books, and the cinematography is also competent. Technically, it doesn't strive for much, but it doesn't have many flaws, either. The Amazon Prime English subtitles are decent enough; there are some flaws, but the bigger problem was in the lack of translation for papers, signs, and text messages – you miss some parts of the story because these weren't translated. Director Kim Dong-wook, a completely different person from the lead, follows the procedural guidelines; some films suffer from too much ambition, this one suffers from a lack of.

Overall, Hello Murderer is a entertaining during it's best scenes, and a bit of a drag to get through during others. Both the mystery and comedy are half-baked, so it feels inconsistent and even odd when these elements clash. It can be occasionally engaging and often hilarious, but it's equally procedural and bland, at times.

Score: 5/10
Parental Guide: Some violence and blood, some partial nudity.

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