Free Chol Soo Lee



Rotten Tomatoes Critics - Certified Fresh 100%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience - Upright 100%
IMDb Rating 7.2 10 107

Plot summary

September 09, 2022 at 09:37 PM


Julie Ha

Top cast

720p.WEB 1080p.WEB
787.58 MB
English 2.0
24 fps
1 hr 25 min
P/S 3 / 9
1.43 GB
English 2.0
24 fps
1 hr 25 min
P/S 1 / 11

Movie Reviews

Reviewed by chenp-54708 7 / 10

An Good Exploration about a Wrongly Convicted Man

Originally Premiered at the 2022 Sundance Film Festival in the U. S. Documentary Competition Selection.

"Free Chol Soo Lee" is about the story of Chol Soo Lee, a Korean American who was falsely convicted of a 1973 murder in San Francisco. Prior to watching this I knew very little about the real life incident and I was going to see this at the Sundance Film Festival but I ended up getting too busy with my schedule so I ended up skipping it. Now it's available on MUBI, I gave it a shot. Although it wasn't one of my favorite documentary's that showed this year's Sundance, it still was a good film. Directors Julie Ha and Eugene Yi clearly is very passionate about the film's contexts and they have created a good documentary regarding with it's tough subject. Since Chol Soo Lee passed away in 2014, the documentary features many uses of old footage, recordings that were voiced over from an actor, re-enactments, and lots of textures and editing to add to the film which ended up working very well. Many of the films information was handled honestly and it didn't feel rushed or cheesy.

The presentation throughout the film is really good and the sound mixing was also great. The ranges of emotions throughout helps to build anger, emotions and frustrations regarding the issues of the courts system, asian discrimination and the problems in the United States with Asian Americans. A lot of the conversations from the figures helped to add a lot of interesting contexts with the case. Although there was certain interviews that felt it didn't need to be in the film and certain moments where the pacing did slow down the film, it was still an overall good film.

It's not an amazing unique documentary but there's a lot of importance around discrimination against Asian Americans that I still think is important.

Rating: B

Reviewed by baygelldawg 9 / 10

Excellent documentary about a forgotten piece of San Francisco history

Amazing story, well told, of the fight to address a severe injustice imposed on a man who was in the wrong place at the wrong time. Or, not even in the wrong place, just on the wrong path.

It did not surprise me that under pressure to solve a murder, the police arrested the first available suspect and then proceeded to allow tunnel vision and confirmation bias to compound their mistake.

What did suprise me was the ability of the Korean community and others to achieve what seemed to be impossible and eventually right this wrong. The story is told with a few moments of humor that provide much needed relief from this human tragedy.

The producers unearthed an impressive and fascinating collection of archive material, including old TV news coverage of the story as it unfolded. The viewer is also shown bits of letters written from prison by the subject. I would have liked to have heard at least one of those letters read in its entirety.

I was left with questions the film should have answered: Who was Chol Soo Lee's attorney in his first trial and why didn't he do a better job? Why was the trial in Sacramento, where there would be fewer Asians in the jury pool? If the eyewitnesses were so easily discredited in the second trial, why weren't they discredited in the first trial? Why was the conviction for killing another inmate in prison, which resulted in a death sentence, overturned on appeal?

And, what no one ever mentions in these situations: What efforts are being made to find the true killer?

Unfortunately, the tragedy continues after the initial victory. It is difficult to find a happy ending here, but the story should be told nevertheless.

Reviewed by smokingkorean 10 / 10

This movie makes Chol Soo Lee's tragic life whole.

Saw this last night with the kid units. We all cried. The documentary delivers on so many arcs.

It's great documentary film making. There isn't a lot of footage or recordings of Chol Soo Lee. How to make a film with so little material? Voice overs, a few re-enactments, and lots of texture including great sound work.

It works as a personal story about Chol Soo Lee. A man born with a mountain of bad luck under tragic circumstances. A flawed man by design who was racially profiled and wronged by America's courts and the police. Again and again.

The white people involved in wrongly accusing Lee and jailing him can't tell the difference between a Korean or a Chinese man. The Asian Americans in the documentary notice details about him like his smile and refer to his "beautiful face." Lee wasn't just a Korean man to them. He was born during the Korean War to a single mother into an impoverished family. He didn't want to come to America with his mother at the age of 12. This documentary upends the tired immigrant stories of longing and yearning for a beautiful America that gives a warm embrace to immigrants.

It gives voice and faces to all those who helped him. There's a great sense of Asian American movement building and history. We all felt slighted by the white savior movie "True Believer".

I've read about Lee since I was a child. I've been curious about him for decades. This movie makes him whole. This movie makes all the people who endeavored to help him whole.

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1 Comment

Konrad_Siegfried profile
Konrad_Siegfried September 10, 2022 at 08:15 am

Thanks Freeman