Lee Towler’s review published on Letterboxd:
It's understandable for a dark movie to have it's little dashes of comedic relief to let loose on some of the built up tension every now and again. Memories of Murder takes it to the next level, it's a really strange mix of what is a constant stream of comedic relief yet strangely grim and bleak. Like it's all dark crime-drama, police interrogation scenario then boom! One of them jump kicks the suspect over just like that. What the fuck is going on half the time absolutely baffles me, but it never really feels silly either. I don't know how to explain how it all works together but I can assure you it does.
Joon-ho Bong is a genius when it comes to mixing various genres, he demonstrates that in The Host and he certainly demonstrates that here. It's actually so weird that he went from this to The Host. How many other directors have the balls to just from a serial killer crime drama to a giant monster movie? Bong is the only one.
His movies are just so strangely mixed together so much that they sound like they shouldn't work at all. Memories of Murder shouldn't be gut wrenching hilarious whilst still being an emotional police drama, but it bloody well is. The characters are deep and funny, you experience the case with them. While you see the case from a distance at the beginning as they get more invested in the serial killer so do you. The movie invests you deeper into its narrative along with the characters. It doesn't tell anything from the serial killers side, it never tries to empathise with the murderer, it just shows everything from the police perspective. The only other film I can think that has done this is Zodiac, which is similar in it's narrative techniques. It's a nice breath of fresh air from all the other serial killer crime-dramas always trying to make you understand why the killer did it all, the film just tells it how it is and doesn't try to bullshit you into feeling sorry for a man killing women for pleasure.
I can't explain how this movie works, what made it so great or why you should watch it. Just take my recommendation and judge it for yourself, I can assure you it's brilliant and worth the time you invest in it, you'll be hooked from start to finish.