Memento Mori DVD Review (Region 2)

Seth Gecko

retired member
<P STYLE='text-align: center'><FONT STYLE='font-size: 18px'><IMG SRC='' ALT='Memento Mori DVD cover artwork' ALIGN='RIGHT'>Memento Mori</FONT><br>Reviewed January 2006 by <A HREF='search.php?do=process&query=Cas Harlow&showposts=1&forumchoice[]=107&forumchoice[]=197' target='_top'>Cas Harlow</A>.</P><P><B>The Movie : 5</B></P><P>Korean cinema has been expanding exponentially over the last few years. From the War film Brotherhood to the excellent Old Boy, Korea keeps pulling off stunning new visions. Memento Mori, at least in terms of Korean cinema, is a controversial new mystery movie about an elicit lesbian relationship at an all-girl high school. Well, that’s what it purports to be.</p><P>At a Korean all-girl high school, Shi-Eun Yoo and Hyo-Shin Min are best friends. In fact they are more than just friends, spending all of their time together, writing a diary together and sharing those longing looks and live-or-die pacts that love struck teenagers might engage in. When another student, Min-Ah Seo, finds the diary, she starts to learn about this forbidden relationship and is more and more interested in the couple, intrigued by the idea of acquiring the same – as good as psychic – connection. However, when a student dies in mysterious circumstances, it becomes apparent that the diary of this secret relationship may hold all of the reasons why it took place.</p><P>Told often in confusing flashbacks, Memento Mori is one of the longest ninety-minute films that I have ever come across. Charting the relationship of this obsessed pair of students, both in the present and through the diary’s illustrations of their clandestine past, the movie comes across more like just a video diary of a year in a Korean all-girl high school (at least for the first two acts). It takes the best part of an hour for anything remotely spooky to happen and, after an hour of watching these high school girls whine and mock one another (irrespective of how cute they are or are not) I’m not sure how interested you are in seeing what happens next.</p><P>Admittedly you can see some nice ideas showcased here, but most of them have been done before and most have them have been in better paced movies. It also does not help that the lead characters are fairly indistinguishable. Sure Young-Jin Lee’s tone-deaf Shi-Eun Yoo (the more freaky of the obsessive pair) is at odds with most of the other characters but the other two girls (the other member of the pair – Yeh-jin Park – and the girl who discovers the diary – Min-sun Kim) seem overly similar and – with the film’s propensity for random flashback – often difficult to differentiate.</p><P>I know that the whole girls’ high school thing might make for a slight twist – that and the strange relationship between the two main girls – but the rest of this movie is distinctly average and positively tedious. Perhaps if they had told the story from a different time-line entirely: all as current spooky happenings with brief flashbacks to explain the history of the pair, rather than try and inter-splice the present and the past, it would have been easier to digest. Perhaps if the lead characters were better developed, or the plot extended to more than just such a (largely) mundane diary-affair (until the final act), it would have been more enjoyable or interesting. As it is, Memento Mori is shamefully disappointing. Hot lesbian schoolgirls? Believe me, it’s nowhere near as good as it sounds.</p><P><B>Picture : 7</B></P><P>Memento Mori is presented in a solid 1.85:1 aspect ratio anamorphically enhanced widescreen picture, with decent detail throughout, no softness or clarity issues and only a minimal amount of noticeable edge enhancement. There is no apparent grain and the print itself exhibits no sign of print damage. The colour scheme is reasonably broad but somewhat restricted by the school setting (other than when they briefly venture out to the zoo or the like) but the colours are all well represented, not least the skin tones. Blacks are solid throughout and overall it is an above-average presentation.</p><P STYLE='text-align: center'><IMG SRC='' ALT='Memento Mori'></P><P><B>Sound : 7</B></P><P>Memento Mori has three main soundtrack options, all in the original Korean language. The DTS track is marginally superior to the Dolby Digital 5.1 mix, but they largely do the same things, with clear dialogue from the frontal array, a smattering of screams and effects noises offering up some directionality from the whole set-up and an eerie score that broods all around you. The tracks are both slightly frontally orientated, but nevertheless present the main feature reasonably well (if unexceptionally) given its content. The third option is the significantly inferior Dolby Digital 2.0 mix that compresses everything into the frontal speakers.</p><P STYLE='text-align: center'><IMG SRC='' ALT='Memento Mori'></P><P><B>Extras : 6</B></P><P>First up there is a Behind the Scenes Featurette that runs at twenty-five minutes in length but is amply padded out by clips from the final film itself. There is lots of background footage, mostly set to well-chosen tracks (including one recognisable from the Matrix), but also including significant interview footage with the main cast and crew contributors. We get to see alternate angles of the shots, some of the original storyboards and basically footage of the movie being filmed. For those who enjoyed the main movie, this is a valuable addition to the proceedings.</p><P>The Music Video is a little over four minutes in length and is mainly shot to footage from the movie. Entirely orchestral, it is more like a silent trailer than a music video, but is still a welcome addition.</p><P>The Original Trailer is two-and-a-half minutes in length and pitches the movie as much darker and more sexy than it is in reality, so don’t let it mislead you. WE also get a Tartan Extreme Trailer Reel, which includes trailers for One Night in Mongkok, Another Public Enemy, Whispering Corridors, R-Point and Vital.</p><P STYLE='text-align: center'><IMG SRC='' ALT='Memento Mori'></P><P><B>Trivia</B><br><P>For user information we use Bitrate 1.4 to scan the disk for the video bitrate, which also calculates the average bitrate. Below is a graph illustrating the bitrate of the disk, including the average bitrate reading. The disk averaged at 7.20 Mbps.</p></P><P STYLE='text-align: center'><IMG SRC='' ALT='Memento Mori'></P><P><B>Verdict : 6</B></P><P>Memento Mori (which means ‘remember the dead’) is a tale of forbidden love and obsession that expectedly ends in death. Supposedly a controversial exploration of lesbian love between two Korean schoolgirls, it is actually a little on the dull side, poorly paced and badly structured. The video and audio are decent presentations and there are a couple of nice extras included in the package but the film definitely deserves a rental first to decide whether or not you like it enough to buy.</p><TABLE border='0' CELLPADDING='0' CELLSPACING='2' WIDTH='100%'><TR><TD COLSPAN='2'><B>Memento Mori (1999)</B></TD></TR><TR><TD WIDTH='65' VALIGN='TOP'>Genres</TD><TD><A HREF='' target='_blank'>Horror</A>, <A HREF='' target='_blank'>Romance</A>, <A HREF='' target='_blank'>Drama</A></TD></TR><TR><TD WIDTH='65' VALIGN='TOP'>Director</TD><TD><A HREF=' Kim
Kyu-Dong Min' target='_blank'>Tae-Yong Kim
Kyu-Dong Min</A></TD></TR><TR><TD WIDTH='65' VALIGN='TOP'>Stars</TD><TD><A HREF=' Kim' target='_blank'>Min-sun Kim</A>, <A HREF=' Park' target='_blank'>Yeh-jin Park</A>, <A HREF=' Lee' target='_blank'>Young-jin Lee</A>, <A HREF=' Baek' target='_blank'>Jong-hak Baek</A>, <A HREF=' Han' target='_blank'>Min Han</A></TD></TR><TR><TD WIDTH='65'><B>Region</B></TD><TD><B>2</B> <FONT>(UK)</FONT></TD></TR><TR><TD VALIGN='TOP' WIDTH='65'>Supplier</TD><TD><FONT>Tartan Asia Extreme. Released Monday 5th December 2005</FONT></TD></TR><TR><TD VALIGN='TOP' WIDTH='65'>SRP</TD><TD><FONT>£19.99</FONT></TD></TR><TR><TD VALIGN='TOP' WIDTH='65'>Discs</TD><TD><FONT>1</FONT></TD></TR><TR><TD VALIGN='TOP' WIDTH='65'>Format</TD><TD><FONT>DVD9</FONT></TD></TR><TR><TD VALIGN='TOP' WIDTH='65'>Time</TD><TD><FONT>93 mins.</FONT></TD></TR><TR><TD VALIGN='TOP' WIDTH='65'>Chapters</TD><TD><FONT>28</FONT></TD></TR><TR><TD WIDTH='65' VALIGN='TOP'>Picture</TD><TD>Anamorphic Widescreen 1.85:1&nbsp;</TD></TR><TR><TD WIDTH='65' VALIGN='TOP'>Sound</TD><TD>Korean Dolby Digital 5.1<BR>Korean <IMG SRC='' ALIGN='ABSMIDDLE' border='0' ALT='DTS Soundtrack'> 5.1<BR>Korean Dolby Digital 2.0</TD></TR><TR><TD WIDTH='65' VALIGN='TOP'>Subtitles</TD><TD>English</TD></TR><TR><TD WIDTH='65' VALIGN='TOP'>Case</TD><TD>Amaray</TD></TR><TR><TD WIDTH='65' VALIGN='TOP'>Extras</TD><TD>Behind the Scenes Featurette<BR>Trailer Reel<BR>Music Video</TD></TR></TABLE><P STYLE='text-align: center'>If you would like to comment on this review, please reply below.</P>

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