A Hard Day (2014) / Thriller-Action
MPAA Rated: Not rated, but would be R for strong violence, drug content, and language
Running Time: 111 min.
Cast: Lee Sun-kyun, Cho Jin-Woong, Jung Man-sik, Shin Dong-mi, Jeong-geun Sin
Director: Kim Seong-hoon
Screenplay: Kim Seong-Hoon, Lee Hae-jun
Review published February 4, 2015
Lee Sun-kyun (Nobody's Daughter Haewoo, R-Point) stars as crooked homicide detective Go Geon-soo, who ends up involved in a hitting a pedestrian with his car on a deserted road on the way to his mother's funeral. He is about to call it in, but then decides, because he's already under investigation by Internal Affairs for a variety of misdeeds and doesn't need any more attention, to hide the body in his trunk in the hopes of discreetly disposing of it, leading to a chain reaction of events that get him in progressively deeper levels of serious trouble -- to say more than this would ruin half of the fun.
Directed with consummate suspense-building skill by Kim Seong-hun (How the Lack of Love Affects Two Men), it may not make a great deal of sense when you're trying to piece it all together in the end, but while it's on, you'll be riveted. Like the best of Alfred Hitchcock, the Master of Suspense, this one keeps the black comedy moments rolling along throughout, as well as its many twists and turns. It's all beautifully shot by first-time cinematographer Kim Tae-sung, with spot-on sense of sleek, dark style and energy, with the kind of tongue-in-cheek verve necessary to let us know this entire film is just meant to be an entertaining lark.
There's no real good guy in the film, just sleaze-ball cops continuing to push one another to commit even more crimes in order to not be the one who goes down. You end up implicated in the sleaze along with Go, as you wonder how in the world he'll get out of the predicament he is in, especially since he's dealing with forces that are even nastier than he is. It's a derivative film to be sure, but so skillfully made, you won't mind if it borrows a page or two.
A Hard Day is a thoroughly entertaining, over-the-top, turn-screw thriller, where the antihero is continuously forced to go above and beyond what's appropriate in order to find the best path to making sure he stays out of prison, or his own grave. It's purely a genre excursion for those who love action-suspensers, and if that means you, find this one immediately. You'll gasp, you'll squirm, you'll laugh, you'll bite your nails raw -- it's a logic-be-damned thrill ride and a half. See it before Hollywood ruins it with the inevitable remake.
©2015 Vince Leo