Murder, Take One (a.k.a. The Big Scene)

Director: Jang Jin
Year: 2005
Production Company: Another Sunday
Running Time: 115 minutes

The film begins with the shot of a murdered woman lying in a hotel bed on top of blood stained pristine white sheets – cleverly the camera then rises up through the ceiling as the police come in to investigate and continues to go upward outside of the building allowing a bird’s eye view of the other rooms in the hotel and then suddenly swooping to the crowd below and one man attempting to get away. He doesn’t and the police arrest him and the show beings. Literally. This is live murder and live television – not too farfetched in this day and age – as the entire investigation is shown live to a TV audience. Of course, an audience’s attention span is limited and so things need to be wrapped up quickly.

Put in charge of the investigation is the photogenic (good for ratings) Prosecutor Choi (Cha Seung-won) and he sees this as a slam dunk with the killer already in their custody – but Kim Yoon-hoon (Shin Ha-gyun) refuses to admit guilt and is able to pass a lie detector test with flying colors. Other suspects, clues and twists quickly appear as the film speeds through the plot with purposeful intent and very little fat. The TV producers worry that to keep up the high ratings (70%) it needs a little more pizzazz and so bring in an exorcist to contact the spirit of the dead woman. Is it the daughter of the man the victim was having an affair with,the mysterious woman who keeps bumping into Choi, the servile hotel owner or is Kim more devious than he appears - the possible suspects begin to pile up like a freeway collision and Choi seems at a loss as how to proceed. Where is Miss Marple when you really need her?
This is a fairly solid entertaining film from the director of one of my favorite romantic comedies “Someone Special”. He adapted it from a play but other than the bravura opening it often feels stagy and contained. In the end it never elevates itself in any real meaningful or memorable manner other than being a good murder mystery – but for those who like "Sleuth" types of films this is fairly enjoyable. It also has a terrific ensemble cast of actors but it feels like they are just in a good TV movie with more twists and suspects than is perhaps healthy.

My rating for this film: 6.5

Reviewed: 01/06

Previous films from Director:

If You Were Me: Someone Grateful – part of an omnibus (2005)
Someone Special (2004)
Guns & Talks (2001)
The Spy (1999)
The Happenings (1998)