Actor Kim Yun-Seok is having a banner year with his directing debut, Another Child, a worthy cosign as one of two milestones for the screen star in the wake of his latest film, Dark Figure Of Crime which opened in October, and screened at NYAFF last weekend.
Ripped from the headlines for Kim Tae-Gyun’s sophomore outing, Dark Figure Of Crime, opens with a meet-up at a restaurant between detective Kim Hyung-min (Kim Yun-Seok), his informant Jung-Bong (Kim Young-Woong), and confessed killer Kang Tae-oh (Ju Ji-Hoon) goes awry.
Before long, a seperate unit nabs him for the murder of his girlfriend, sparking a grim reunion when Kang gives Kim a potentially prospective phone call confessing to the death and dismemberment of six more bodies. The two commence an arrangement, of sorts, that enables Kim to pursue a cold case roster in exchange for handing Kang perks behind bars.
At least one twist by this juncture, thanks to Kang’s own admission, has already led to a five-year reduction off of his initial sentence. Kim is aware of the severity this brings, as he’s already some years away from retirement and uneager for any sort of career promotion – as later scenes reveal, his biggest concern is that Kang’s victims will never find justice years after their deaths.
Forced to oblige by a statute of limitations for certain cases while writing off others, he and partner detective Jo (Jin Seon-Kyu) are reduced down to at least one case with another lead. As Kim continues further down the rabbit hole, it’s only a matter of time before his tedious dilligence will be a deciding factor on the justice system, as well as his own career and legacy.
Dark Figure Of Crime is about as loaded as any particular true crime tale as one might relish in. Often jumping back-and-forth in time to highlight key moments and flashback concurrent with the story, the slow-burn execution leaves plenty of room for development that takes its time to coalesce and keeps the stimulus going with solid performances from Kim and Ju.
The Kim and Kang pair don’t share much in the realm of levity in correlation to the Frank Lucas/Richie Roberts duality by the third act, though they can generally coexist with each other in the same space whilst knowing where the other is coming from. One is an inherent psychopath who wants out, and the other wants him to pay in spades for what he’s done.
Kim Tae-Gyun’s Dark Figure Of Crime plays it pretty careful with the actual killing moments. The actual violence is mostly suspense-driven – affordably tethered for the film’s focus on aftermath moments where our detective’s grisly discoveries come in.
Fans of the true crime genre will get a kick out of Dark Figure Of Crime, particularly those with a thick skin and who can withstand a bittersweet ending, as intriguing and foreboding as these stories can get.