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[DVD REVIEWS]Slasher tale cuts path as a confusing thriller

July 30,2002
"Tell Me Something" (1999)

Directed by Jang Yun-hyeon. Starring Han Seok-gyu and Shim Eun-ha.

"No!," the voice wailed into the telephone. "Don't ask me to explain that film!"

The wail in question was Darcy Paquet's, the operator of www.koreanfilm.org and all-round Korean film wise guy. And the movie in question was "Tell Me Something," one of 1999's biggest hits, not to mention one of the most confusing.

Billed as a "hard-core thriller," "Tell Me Something" is a moody and suspenseful movie. It also is replete with graphic gore and more blood than the elevators in "The Shining."

The film begins with a blood-thirsty serial killer slashing his way across Seoul, leaving garbage bags filled with mismatched body parts.

Detective Cho (Han) traces the the four victims to Suyeon (Shim), a woman who was at various times romantically linked to each of them. Fearing that the killer is working his way toward Suyeon, the police try to place her under their protection, but this is one determined psychopath.

"Tell Me Something" is ultimately a film about secrets, about people's hidden pasts and how little we know about each other. As the characters' histories slowly unravel, they often contradict what we were led to believe up to that point. Unfortunately, the filmmakers' penchant for surprise often outweighs their abilities to plot, and the result is confused and open-ended, if not outright contradictory. Perhaps that is the result of having a whopping five people credited as working on the story.

Kudos to the filmmakers for putting together such a hip sound track. Far too often an otherwise interesting film is marred by some lame 1980s heavy metal. "Tell Me Something," in contrast, features tunes like Nick Cave's "Red Right Hand."

If you are in the mood for an engrossing (and often, just plain grossing) thriller, "Tell Me Something" is a winner.

by Mark Russell




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