Director: Kim Seong-Hun
Writer: Kim Seong-Hun
Producer: Cha Ji-hyeon, Jang Won-seok
Cast: Lee Seon-Gyun, Jo Jin-Woong, Shin Jeong-Geun, Jeong Man-Sik, Kim Gang-Hyun, Shin Dong-Mi,Jang In-Seop
Running Time: 111 min.
Nothing is going right for ill-tempered, single parent Detective Go today. Driving to his mother’s funeral, he receives a call from a colleague informing him that the precinct is being raided by agents from Internal Affairs who are armed with ledgers of corrupt officers taking bribes.
Fazed and distracted by more calls from his sister, he accidentally runs into a pedestrian. Instead of reporting the accident, he hides the body in his trunk which he later disposes of. A few days later he receives yet another ominous call from someone who saw the accident and threatens to report the crime and starts to blackmail him. Go is certainly having A Hard Day…
A Hard Day is a 2014 crime thriller directed and scripted by Kim Seong-hoon (How the Lack of Love Affects Two Men) and stars Lee Sun Yun (R-Point) and Cho Jin-Woong (Kundo: Age of the Rampant). The film debuted to excellent reviews at the 2014 Cannes Film Festival in the Director’s Fortnight sidebar in May 2014 in South Korea. Its take was second only behind Hollywood blockbusters X-Men: Days of Future Past and Edge of Tomorrow for four consecutive weeks.
Lee is superb as Go. The range of emotions Lee goes through in the first 24 hours upon learning of the raid, the accident and the phone call are just mind boggling. Lee, through it all, is able to capture all these emotions with just his facial expressions of shock, despair, grief, anger and sheer terror. Not an easy task as the successive events that take place fairly quickly, one after the other.
Even before these unfortunate events, life wasn’t easy for Go. He shares an apartment with his sister, brother-in-law and young daughter and is the sole bread winner for the whole family. He’s a single father trying to raise his daughter while constantly being pestered by his sister to “provide for the family.”
A Hard Day is filled with dark humor and certain scenes are outright hilarious. Case in point is the scene between Go and a funeral director: inside the reposing room where his mother’s casket is, Go “requests” some private time with his mother. The activity that follows is humorous yet nail biting at the same time.
A Hard Day moves along frenetically but is not difficult to follow. The director seems to take great pleasure in heaping more and more unpleasant events into Go’s life as things slowly unravel – his directing is crisp and on-point without any wasted shots and the story moves along very nicely.
The soundtrack adds to the despair Go faces as the camera takes close-ups of his ever-terrified and perplexed psyche. The lighting for the most part is dark and moody, keeping with the thematic elements of the film.
The film is by no means an action vehicle, but rather a well scripted and acted crime drama that keeps the audience wanting more. Look out for a scene that features a death-by-heavy machinery inside a car that sounds distasteful and unnecessary, but actually adds to the callous and dark side of Park. With moments like this, Kim frequently catches the audience by surprise.
A Hard Day, however, is not totally without fault. The plot is simplistic and somewhat far-fetched. How could so many unfortunate events befall Go all within such a short period of time is hard to imagine. It does, nevertheless, make for one heck of a movie where cause and effect leads to a cascading cyclone of events that make for good cinema.
Another flaw in the film, for better or worse, is the revelation about a third into the film who is blackmailing Go. I would have liked to be kept in the dark about the caller’s identity just a while longer, perhaps maybe two-thirds into the film rather than so early on. Yet, the mood of the film isn’t any less sinister even when the audience realizes who the blackmailer is and what his motives are.
Shortcomings aside, A Hard Day is top-notch and keeps you at the edge of the seat. Definitely recommended.
oneleaf’s Rating: 8/10