Telmisseomding (1999) Poster

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Well made but hard to figure out
T C17 August 2011
Warning: Spoilers
Serious spoilers ahead !

This is a very well-made thriller. After first watching, it seemed not to make any sense at all to me, and I got quite angry at it.

But then, I went back to it, and patiently went through some of the scenes again to catch the detailed hints. Man, it sure isn't easy to figure them out ! Hollywood thrillers are very in your face with plot hints. This one is far more subtle, and the viewers have to really catch the details themselves.

Since there are many negative comments here because of the impenetrable plot twists, I will list what I found out so far (it's really more of a puzzle than a straightforward thriller, think "The usual suspects"):

At the beginning of the film, the detective removes a button from the dead body of a boy who fell out of a window; the other one is missing. The missing button is the one he sees Chae put into the drawer in the video towards the end of the movie. When he gets into the room 702 where the victims were dissected, he imagines how she pushed the boy off the window. She does it because the boy had been spying on her. Without this link, the detective wouldn't know Chae was in that place, so it is crucial.

On the photo, there are the two women, Chae and Seungmin Oh, together will all the male victims, each holding a bottle with fish, similar to the one that Chae gave to the detective before she left for Paris towards the end. They are standing in front of a water tank. When the detective first went to the home in the woods where Chae was hiding after being attacked, this tank was briefly shown. It was not recognizable as such, but the metal corners were standing out. The detective remembered it from the photo.

The tools that were packed and removed from the room 702 where the detective's partner was killed were found in Seungmin Oh's apartment by the police (before the scene at Tower records). Therefore, she was the one who killed him.

The body missing the head inside the tank is Chae's father's. His head was in the freezer that the detective's partner found just before he was killed. Over the phone, he informed the detective that the head was Chae's father's. His killer (Seungmin Oh) removed the head from the freezer before leaving.

This implies that both women were using the room 702 for the killings. They were partners in those crimes. Seungmin Oh has burn scars on her legs (shown before she leaves for Tower records). She is Chae's childhood friend who set the house on fire. Chae was lying when she said that friend was a boy, in order to cover up Seungmin Oh (her partner in crime).

The men were all former boyfriends of Chae, according to what she said. However, they are shown united on the photo, together with Chae and Seungmin Oh. They are standing in front of the tank that contains Chae's father's dead body, in celebrating pose. This implies they must all have been complicit in killing him. Her father was the first victim, and contrary to the others, his body was kept hidden. From the way he was portrayed, the former boyfriends must have had reason to hate him; also, she must have manipulated them in wanting to murder her father.

The plastic bag that led back to her father was placed to make her father the main suspect for the killing of the young men. Presumably the two women killed them in order to stain Chae's father's reputation (he is a very famous artist). Things went wrong with this plan when the detective's partner discovered her father's head in the freezer just before he was killed, and informed the detective about it. Knowing that her father was dead, he wasn't a suspect any longer for the police. This was the point where Seungmin Oh understood that their plan was unraveling.

The person in the car who was attacking the detective in the rainy night, after he finds one of the victim's place, is Seungmin Oh. The police (towards the end) identify her as the owner of a car that was caught speeding on that night.

Seungmin Oh knows that the police has tracked her down, after seeing them at her workplace. To draw attention away from Chae, she spills the blood in the bathtub, and makes it evident that she is the murderer. She still wants to cover Chae.

Chae's call to the detective telling him she will meet Senguin at Tower records is a setup. She says "just because I was thinking of you", which is not typical for her. He was supposed to kill Seungmin, this was the plan of both women.

There is an enigmatic short scene 30 min before the end where Chae and Seungmin Oh meet for dinner, together with some young men (just after the killing of the detective's partner). Seungmin asks Chae "Did you really go to the hospital to die ? You are not the suicidal type." It looks rather like a memory, and the men present at the dinner might have been the victims. It might imply that the women were ready for suicide, but that Chae wanted out, and that Seungmin was ready to take the blame, in order to give her an alibi.

All in all, it started to make sense to me after moving through the film back and forth on my ipad. This is the first time I had to do this to understand a movie. While it was frustrating at the beginning, this is all looking a lot more interesting now.

Finally, the original title is "Telmisseomding", and was translated to "Tell me something". Much rather, it might mean "They'll miss something".
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Excellent Korean Horror
rustyangel1321 December 2002
TELL ME SOMETHING: I'm truely surprised that the Korean cinema hasn't caught on here in America. From what I've seen from them, I've never been let down. First, there was SHIRI, a big budget terrorists vs the government Hollywood style movie. Then the spectacular MUSA, and well, you know my feelings on that one. It was just fantastic. One of my favorite movies of all time. Next was BICHUNMOO, a grand martial arts Kung Fu Theatre epic. Then NO. 3 (aka NUMBER 3 KILLER), a quirky gangster PULP FICTION type of film. And now we have CHANG YOON HYUN's TELL ME SOMETHING, a very good serial killer murder mystery flick. It's also what I call a "Sunday afternoon movie". You know, it's 6 or 7 pm and there's nothing on television to watch so you nab a nice thought provoking drama or crime/suspense flick from the video store and you kick back and watch it. Director DAVID FINCHER's movies like THE GAME and SE7EN are good examples. And this is just as good. But what's so special about this particular one is that you not only get a great "thinking movie" storyline, it also supplies the pleasant blood and gore that most Hollywood films of this sort only hint to or simply happen off-screen. HAN SUK KYU (from SHIRI and NO. 3) stars as troubled police detective Cho on the trail of a terrible serial killer that chops up the bodies of the victims and spreads them throughout the city in black plastic garbage bags. But the niffty new trick here is to mix them up. In bag #1, you may get the arms, head, and heart of victim A. In bag #2 located somewhere else, you find the legs from victim A but they're mixed up with the guts and hands of victim B. Then in bag #3, there's the head and heart of victim B with the legs and guts from victim C. And so on and so on. Get the picture? So after discovering several bags and finally piecing them together like a puzzle to identify the corpses, he finds one link between them all, a lovely young museum currator named Su-Yeon (actress SHIM EUN HA). She's had affairs with all the male victims at one time or another so maybe she's gotta be the killer, right? Well, as I said before, this is more of a "thinking" movie so it's never who you'd expect. There'll be plenty of other suspects to point the finger at as the movie goes on. So without giving away any more details that may spoil the movie, I'll wrap this review up rather short. All in all, this was just another example of how good the Korean film industry has been for me. I hope they continue to impress and maybe, just maybe, they'll find a home here in America.
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10/10
Horrific thriller
rundbauchdodo6 August 2001
This South Korean thriller undoubtedly belongs to the most impressive genre films of the last years and stands in one line with classics like "Seven" or "The Silence of the Lambs". In a way, it even tops both American movies, even though it's not really comparable to them, because the story goes in another direction as the movie proceeds.

"Tell Me Something" starts of as a serial killer thriller clearly influenced by "Seven", but it becomes much more Giallo-like in the second half to become some valid social comment with its downbeat climax.

The acting is also remarkable, just as the sublime black humor that surfaces once in a while and the outrageously gory moments that will leave You gasping for breath even if You've seen many gorefests before. The last point is particularly interesting considering that the film never tries to outdo some notorious Italian horror movie of the early 1980s or Category-III-romp from Hongkong's 1990s.

The diversity of interesting aspects make this top-notch thriller interesting for hard core horror buffs as well as moviegoers that normally don't pay for such violent movies. Astonishingly as it may sound, it's a very sensible movie in a way. Nevertheless, it surely is nothing for the easily offended or faint hearted. It's just demanding cinema which makes no compromises, which most really good films are.

Highly recommended.
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6/10
Dismembered plot
Renaldo Matlin4 December 2004
The Korean film-industry is without a doubt one of the most interesting and fun to watch in the world today. Titles like the haunting and oddly fascinating "Salinui chueok" (Memories of Murder) and the half-cool/half-turkey "Tube" spring to mind. You never really know what you'll get when you sit down to watch a South Korean film today, but "Tell Me Something" is an example of a movie that has a lot of things going for it but in the end leaves you more confused than satisfied.

Now I rarely have a hard time following the plot of a serial-killer movie (of recent ones I found the US thriller "Taking Lives" an insult to my intelligence as I could figure out it's every move a mile away), but "Tell Me Something" demands a lot from it's viewer. I suspect the language barrier is partly to blame, as I got the feeling some clues must have been left out in the subtitles, but the director obviously could have done a better job. I give him an A+ for it's grisly, stylish look but an F for his lack of explaining several loose ends in the plot.

The main problem is that he loads the film with tons of information but doesn't know how to treat it all. The viewer is almost drowned in clues handed out seemingly at random, leaving it an impossible task for us to try and figure out the killer, which is half the fun in movies like these.

It's really ironic how a movie about dismembered victims, it-self is told in such a dismembered fashion.

I give "Tell Me Something" a 6.5 out of 10 for it's gory, stylish execution. A fun, but not too original, soundtrack also adds to the entertainment value.
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7/10
Begins in tremendous style
christopher-underwood13 October 2006
Begins in tremendous style and is very watchable throughout although one does begin to worry about a certain lack of clarity. I think the film is longer than it need be and is ultimately unable to deal with the deeper issues it alludes to. A tighter film would have meant we were on the edge of our seats throughout and, possibly more importantly, forced the director (or writer) to get what they wanted to say more simply expressed. Many have suggested there may be something, lost in translation and that is a fair point but my own feeling is that the film makers simply overstretched themselves a little. Having said all that it's a very decent film with plenty of blood, gore and surprises, plus its always good to look at.
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A Thinking-Person's Thriller
Tarre14 January 2003
I've read the other comments and was surprised by the vast differences of opinion. This was a fantastic movie. It's not Seven and it's not Silence of the Lambs. It's all it's own. I'm an Anglo-American, but have grown up in Hawaii, a deeply Asian-influenced region. I think that makes a big difference in how you receive this movie. It has obvious American undertones, but sustains an Asian cultural subtext that some may not understand. The gore is secondary. Dialogue, too. Movement, real acting and phenomenal shooting makes this an event, not just a movie. The director, actors and even the lighting crew is showing us, not telling us a fantastic story.

The troubled cop beginning of this movie might feel problematic to some, but if you think about it, it really is telling you to not believe everything you think. You think this is going to be a film about one thing and it is about another thing. You think the killer is one character and it is another. Using all available to the genre and medium, the director wastes nothing. He uses music, cinemotagraphy, location, lighting and pacing to convey time, feeling and motive or inspiration if you will. Nothing is rushed and nothing is obvious. I loved that the longing the cop and the "victim" have for each other is so subtle, so quiet. It's almost smoldering and chaste at the same time.

The twists are fantastic, too. You are lead in one direction and you think, "Ah, ha. That's who I thought it was." and then you are told that is not correct. You are left second-guessing yourself to the very end.

A lot of people may feel unsatisfied with the ending because it doesn't tie everything up in a pretty bow. Why did the killer kill? What happens next? How did it happen? I like that. There is nothing more disturbing than being treated like a bumbling idiot by a director or screen writer. I want to think. I want to question. Just like the old saying if you have to have a joke explained to you, you don't get it. This movie needs no explanation. It needs critical thinking people to watch it. Just like reality, not everything is explained. This is a thinking-person's thriller. I certainly hope Hollywood does not re-make this film. It is perfect the way it is with it's Asian sensibilities and rhythm. I loved it!

It certainly is one of the best movies I've seen in a long time and probably the best thriller in recent memory.
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7/10
Obsessive Love
Claudio Carvalho26 August 2007
Warning: Spoilers
In Seoul, parts not matching of severed copses of three men are found in cars and bags left in public spaces. Detective Cho (Suk-Kyu Han), who is under investigation of the Internal Affairs, is assigned to lead the investigation with his team. When the identities of the men are discovered, the police finds that the artist Su-Yeon Chae (Eun-ha Shim), who lives with her friend Seungmin Oh (Jung-ah Yum), had been lover of the men. Detective Cho and his force protect Su-Yeon and follows the leads based one the information she tells, while the killer executes other victims. However, Cho discloses very dark secrets in the end, finding the real motives of the murderer.

"Telmisseomding" is a stylish and gore South Korean thriller, with a magnificent cinematography, camera and acting, and an awesome music score. Unfortunately the director and the screenplay writer have not succeeded and the story is totally confused mainly after the last twist. I have my interpretation but some points are missing or does not make sense, and I did not understand the bond between Su-Yeon and Seungmin (the homosexual love between them is subtle and not clear whether it is corresponded or not) and who is the killer indeed. It seems that Su-Yeon has actually killed her lovers based on her sexual trauma with her obsessive father, but if this premise is correct, why Seungmin had the aggressive attitude when the detectives arrive in the hospital? Or maybe both girls were the killers and Su-Yeon wanted to blame Seungmin and plotted the whole situation in the Tower Records. Therefore, the story is flawed and not clear. My vote is seven.

Title (Brazil): "Partes de um Segredo" ("Parts of a Secret")
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10/10
The Best Film of 1999
bdeyes811 November 2001
I had been working on a fairly in depth discussion of this film to post on the IMDB, but I decided to just shorten my lengthy diatribe to one word: RUN!

I don't want to give away ANY of the plot, because the less you know the better. And all you need to know is that this is the BEST serial thriller to come along since The Silence of the Lambs...it's better than Seven, it's better than Copycat, and it's even better than The Crimson Rivers. In fact, I would rate this top notch film on the same level as Dario Argento's Deep Red and Tenebre...and for those of you fortunate enough to have seen those classic films..yes, it really is THAT good! Yet whereas acting and even the screenplay are secondary to classic Italian thrillers, this gem boasts an exquisitely constructed screenplay (the ending will surely take you by surprise!) and two outstanding lead performances by the commandingly handsome Suk-kyu Han and the breathtakingly beautiful Eun-ha Shim.

Sadly, Tell Me Something has yet to get a US release (outside of all too rare arthouse screenings from time to time), and after two years it remains unreleased on VHS or DVD. So I would HIGHLY recommend that you all purchase the code-free NTSC Hong Kong DVD. The A/V transfer is stunning, and the English subtitles get a surprisingly accurate translation.

I have no idea why none of the Hollywood studios have yet given this film a theatrical release, but like the equally brilliant Japanese horror film RING, I'm guessing it's because they are first planning an American remake...so before that dark day comes, experience for yourself the film that I consider the Best Movie of 1999 (besting even The Matrix), and one of the Top 5 Horror/Thrillers of the decade!

My Grade: A+
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7/10
Where horror and style mix up a gory mystery.
Roger Burke8 July 2008
As I watched this film, I kept asking myself: What's the killer's motivation(s)? Not until the last few minutes did that become clear – well, as clear as it could be, given the narrative structure: reminiscent of the plot of Se7en (1995) but with the addition of a number of flashbacks that do more to confuse than to wholly satisfy.

And, there are obvious nods to not only Se7en, but Silence of the lambs (1991), also, particularly the cinematography and scene construction. At one point, echoing a scene from the former, Detective Cho (Suh-kyu Han) is lying exhausted in a rain-soaked alley way, while the killer sits waiting in his car, only two metres away; but instead of running Cho down, the killer screams away into the rain. In another scene, Cho is in an elevator and looks up to see bright blood dripping from the hatchway, and then also dripping down the wall; suddenly, the hatch breaks and buckets of blood cascade onto him. Add to that are the many interior scenes in run-down tenements and so forth, all evocative of the spooky corridors of those earlier films.

Still, the story is interesting, in a macabre way: across Seoul, body parts turn up in black plastic bags, but not all parts belong to the body. Somebody is perpetrating murder piecemeal. Enter Detective Cho, somewhat under suspicion for corruption but handed the case as way to redeem his career. More mixed-up body parts are discovered, but no hands with fingerprints. So, no clues. Until a head appears with teeth fillings that can be traced. One thing leads to another until Cho finds himself knocking on the door to Chae Su-Yeon (Eun-ha Shim), a young woman who knows all the male victims.

And so begins the real mystery for Cho - and the viewer. Through questioning and a series of flashbacks, it looks like Chae is in the frame; yet, murders continue while she is under surveillance. Suspicion falls upon her father, who, from Chae's account, is shown to be a sadistic, authoritarian figure; but he can't be found. And then there's a further nod to another thriller, Kiss the girls (1997), where the idea of a deadly duo is raised and then quashed when a prime suspect is himself reduced to a jumble of parts in a bag. All very messy for Cho, and increasingly so, because he appears to be attracted to the sweet Chae Su-Yeon, a complication he can do without, you would think.

In a way, I can also compare this film to the manner in which David Lynch constructs his films. When you see any of the more recent Lynch films, the real mystery (and challenge) is how to understand the story. For Tell Me Something, the problem is how to understand the mystery because, as I said, the killer's motivation(s) is the key. And yet, at the end, there is no absolute clarity, even though the identity is obvious. So if I provide my understanding here and now, I think that would detract from the pleasure of unraveling it for yourself. Meanwhile, I'll continue to ponder the significance of the title, the significance of which escapes me.

However, the production is excellent and the special effects (dismembered bodies, body pieces, heads, gutted torsos and so on) are so realistic they may cause some people more than just some discomfit. It will certainly satisfy the slash-and-gore set who liken this movie to Italian giallo cinema, exemplified by Dario Argento's works such as Deep Red (1977), Tenebre (1982) and others. It's classified as a horror film and I think that's justified, given the underpinnings of the story and the camera work.

I can't comment much on the acting as I'm not familiar with the actors or Korean cinema, having seen only a few; generally, however, I think the actors performed quite well.

Recommended for those who like a mixed bag of horror, mystery and thriller...and body parts.
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8/10
Korean Horror at it's best and worst.
scarecrowman22 February 2003
Warning: Spoilers
I gave this film an 8 out of 10. It was hard to give an Asian suspense film less than a 9, but this film has a few holes. While the acting is superb and the atmospheric scenery is only rivaled by the American film Seven, it's plot falls weak towards the end. It all comes together and makes sense at the end, but there is something disturbing about it. We know there are atleast 2 killers for shear continuity reasons. Because Detective Oh (Yes that is his name), dies while the main villain is in the custody of the lead detective. (Side note, not to sound stereotypical, I admire the Asian community a great deal, but that is the only problem I have with watching Asian film. The names do not stick out because they are all almost the same. With the exception of Detective Oh. So my appologies on not naming anyone other than Detective Oh.) Anyway, what we do not know is why in the hell she wanted to attack the lead villain in Tower Records. We do not know why the family back story turns into a big mess at the end. We do not know why the lead killer would leave evidence of a drastic nature behind. Nor do we know why that eerie painting did not raise the attention of the police when the knew good and well a head would turn up next. I don't know, maybe the subtitles we not translated well enough. Maybe if I knew Korean I would understand the film better. Maybe if I saw the film outside the US it would have had scenes that America did not show. What I do know: This is a great cinematic achievement both visually and acted. The film has some great special effects, such as what I am sure is real animals blood. You see Eastern film is so uncompromising because they do not have to deal with a disturbingly PC Hollywood community. Anyway the only flaws may lie in the American cut, so I cannot go below an 8. I believe the film made since in Korea. If anyone knows where I can get a subtitled Director's Cut of this film please let me know. It breaks my heart to give this film less than a 9.
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