Desire to Kill / Enemy at the Dead End
Korean Release Date: 26th of August, 2010
UK DVD Release Date: 20th August 2012 (Terror-cotta)
Running Time: 91 mins.
Directors: Owen Cho, Kim Sang-Hwa
Writers: Owen Cho, Kim Sang-Hwa
Starring: Cheon Ho-Jin, Yu Hae-Jin, Seo Hyo-Lim, Kim Seo-Hyung, Ra Mi-Ran, Ahn Eun-Jung, Lee Jeong-Heon,
Desire to Kill is the debut feature by Owen Cho and Kim Sang-Hwa but you would never know it because this thriller is so well put together with such flair and smart writing it makes many other films from more experienced directors look creatively barren.
After the death of his wife, Kim Min-Ho (Cheon Ho-Jin) repeatedly tries to commit suicide. His efforts leave him in hospital and paralysed from neck down. He is overwhelmed by his muddled memories and the desire to kill the murderer of his wife. When an unconscious man named Sang-Up (Yu Hae-Jin) is brought into Kim Min-Ho’s room he discovers that he is the murderer and is suffering amnesia and paralysis. The two are under the care of Nurse Ha (Seo Hyo-Rim) and Dr. Paik (Kim Seo-Hyung) who is performing brain surgery on Sang-Up whilst feeding the two an untested medicine named AAP. Kim Min-Ho finds himself in a race to recover before Sang-Up so he can exact his revenge.
The film begins on July 25th 1984 with Min-Ho stating “Weather clear. I plan to kill a man today but I can’t remember his face.” This is the start of a film which features a great thriller plot accompanied by black comedy all wrapped up in great visuals but what really impresses is the exploration of memory.
Memory can be a tricky thing. When we bring in different interpretations it can be the least reliable thing around. It is a subject regularly explored in films like Memento, The Bourne Identity and Retribution. If I had to make a comparison with another film it would be Oldboy as it gives us two characters defined by memory, or lack of it in one case, and pulls back their layers of memory as part of an intricately constructed plot tied to one character’s desire to kill.