These super simple cases normally only take five minutes to solve ,
But this great detective will somehow manage to fill all 33 minutes of the show's broadcast time
"33 Minutes Detective"
I still think the TV drama 33pun Tantei ("33 Minutes Detective") was one of the most brilliant shows ever. Premise: they always find the murderer within the first five minutes of the show, but to fill out the thirty three minutes of the scheduled TV program length, the detective comes up with the most outrageous deductions showing someone else might have done it. And after twenty minutes of crazy deductions, it turns out to be the first person anyway. The parody show borrowed heavily from Police Squad!, and that's never a bad thing. And today, another detective with a time limit!
Fourth period has just started at school. Everyone's outside for PE class. Everyone? No, three students are still in the classroom. Well, two students and one dead body. Our dead body is Tae-Gyu, the troublemaker of the class, who isn't making that much trouble anymore because he has been stabbed multiple times in his heart. Well, Tae-Gyu as a person may not be causing much trouble, but his dead body is kinda a problem for Jung-Hoon, ace student of the school: he had opportunity (he is in the classroom), motive (the two had a big fight earlier) and means (he is in fact holding a bloody knife in his hands). So he kinda panics when his classmate (and wallflower) Da-Jung enters the classroom, finding a dead Tae-Gyu and a literally redhanded Jung-Hoon. Da-Jung however 1) beliefs Jung-Hoon's innocent and 2) is a detective fiction maniac, so the two decide to solve the case before the class will return (to find the body) after the fourth period in the South Korean 2009 movie 4 Gyosi Churiyǒngyǒk ("4th Period Mystery").
And to make it more confusing, the movie is also known in English as The Clue and Detectives in Forty Minutes. I'll just stick with the original name.
When I first read about this movie, I got kinda excited. A high school murder mystery? That's usually reserved for Detective Conan or Kindaichi Shounen no Jikenbo (you wouldn't believe how many murderers and victims studied at Fudou High). Count in an amusing premise (solving the murder before fourth period ends) and you can safely say that my interest was piqued.
And it ended in disappointment. A lot of disappointment. 4 Gyosi Churiyǒngyǒk is just... boring. As a detective movie, you'd expect a bit more... deductions, but there are literally just two deduction scenes in the whole movie, and while they're supposed to be impressive, they're 1) incredibly basic and 2) faulty. Which is kinda bad if you're doing a detective movie, and base all plot developments on those faulty deductions. Like the deductions, the presentation of the hints to the viewer also feels very arbitrary, especially the game-changing, all-important hint that literally comes falling down out of nowhere (rendering about 40 minutes of the movie completely useless too). There are also two extended chase scenes in the movie, which felt out of place, messing up the pace of the story. By the way, there is absolutely no way a chase can take over ten minutes within the confines of a school complex!
There was definitely potential for something interesting though. 4 Gyosi Churiyǒngyǒk sets up a great closed circle for example, as security systems and a closed community (students and teachers) kinda prevent outsiders from getting in (or out!) the school unnoticed. But it never goes beyond setting it up the closed system, while it could have been used for much more (students seen far away from their classroom, a 'The Invisible Man'-esque story, alibis dependent on footsteps heard in the hallway etc.). Granted, Norizuki Rintarou's debut novel Mippei Misshitsu, similarly a high school murder mystery, also kinda avoids going really deep with the whole closed community thing, but heck, that novel had a full-fledged locked room murder and meta-discussions on the detective genre to fill the time with, 4 Gyosi Churiyǒngyǒk just bad deduction scenes. And a high school love story that isn't really convincing. And a half-hearted attempt at social commentary on the competitive nature of South Korean education. Half-hearted, so no shakai-ha (social school) tag for this review!
And one little note, but why wasn't the fourth period exactly forty (real-time) minutes in the movie, but slightly longer? The whole time limit thing was the whole premise of the movie, so I was kinda expecting them to do that in real time, instead of taking fifty minutes. It doesn't ruin the movie, but I think it's a missed chance...
4 Gyosi Churiyǒngyǒk was nothing more than a disappointment for me, to be honest. I asked a friend from South Korea about the movie, and she seemed to think it was a horror movie, so maybe it was marketed as such in South Korea, though it's really just a whodunnit mystery movie. And a bad one at it. The only thing I can say about the movie is, move along, nothing to see here.
Original Korean title(s): "4교시 추리영역"