Four little Soldier boys going out to sea
A red herring swallowed one and then there were three.
No, no, no, I'm not going to discuss South-Korean detective fiction from now on. The biggest hurdle being that I can't actually read Korean, despite having followed Korean language courses for 1.5 semester. I still want to visit the Detective Literature Museum in Busan someday, which still seems so much fun despite probably most books being in Korean, so maybe I should try a bit more. Or open my own museum here. Hmmm....
The movie is set in 1986 and starts with the discovery of a decapitated head by some fishers on the mainland of South-Korea. It seems the head came from the nearby island Geukrakdo, where all 17 inhabitants have disappeared. As the authorities come to the island to investigate this mass disappearence, a flashback starts and tells the events of some days before. While seemingly an island true to its name of Geukrakdo ("Paradise Island"), with all 17 inhabitants living a simple yet good life there, the island soon turns into a living hell when one day two technicians working on the island are murdered brutally at a gambling party. With the local lunatic, who seems the most plausible suspect, missing and the island's only radio being destroyed, things become quite stressful on this paradise. Add a local legend of a ghost and a big pile of money that seems to disappear and appear at the worst moments possible and you can be sure that more and more people get murdered, until there were none left.
I'm not all too sure what to say about the movie. At one hand, the denouement and the main plot-twist was done reasonably well, being fairly hinted and actually the one I was expecting. And the other hand, the main plot-twist can be a bit unfair if you expect a true Golden Age detective, because Paradise Murdered isn't that. It's nowhere as neatly plotted as And Then There Were None, mostly hanging together by coincidences. Most events can be taken at face-value, because there really is nothing hidden behind smoke and mirrors. Rather than Christie's masterpiece, Paradise Murdered might be compared more reasonably to Edogawa Rampo's more pulpy works. With a healthy dose of violence, a bit of misdirection, the final plot twist that reminds very much of Edogawa's pulpy themes and a strange blend of humor and the occult mixed in the story, I think Paradise Murdered can be quite fun if you're into 1920's Japanese henkaku themes actually.
A masterpiece, this is not. It's not awful either and it probably appeals to the masses because of the slash horror theme combined with an And Then There Were None setting and an actual denouement scene, but on the other hand, you don't really miss out on anything by not watching this.
Original Korean title(s): 극락도 살인사건