Review: A Hard Day

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Poster for A Hard DayA Hard Day is a Korean movie that was showcased at Cannes Film Festival in 2014. It has been making the circuit since, and I can definitely see why.

At first the movie starts innocently enough, explaining the seemingly obvious title. The protagonist is Detective Ko Gun-Su. On his way to his mother’s funeral, he drives erratically. He is aware enough to avoid hitting a street dog, but not the stranger right after. Although he intends to call emergency services, his daughter’s phone call distracts him at the same moment a cop car is driving home. In a moment of panic, he drags the body to the side.

From this point on, the movie steadily increases in insanity with unbelievable decisions causing bizarre consequences, and ending in the most oddly uncomfortable yet fitting resolution.

Seriously, Detective Ko is the most corrupt, shameless character there is. In the first quarter of the movie, he is able to drag the corpse through the ventilation ducts, place the corpse into the casket on top of his recently deceased mother. My jaw dropped during that scene . It wasn’t the only time my jaw dropped either. These scenes take viewers completely by surprise. The movie seems predictable, and then a crazy cartoonish sequence happens. There are no silly noises or anything indicating this is a comedy but you can’t help but start laughing.

A Hard Day is also one of the few times I have found myself simultaneously rooting and jeering for the protagonist. He never pauses or questions his own homicidal tendencies. He’s corrupt, a low scum in the police force, but he loves his family and he’s impressively resourceful. That might be a reason why he’s such a great detective.

At some point, my derision flowed into shock which culminated into petty enjoyment. The appreciation and enjoyment of the movie is slow growing but worth it in the end. After everything that goes on in the movie it ends up unbelievably well.

The movie opens Friday, July 17 in New York at Village East Cinemas with a national release to follow by Kino Lorber.

Credits:
Written and directed by: Kim Seong-hun
Starring: Lee Sun-kyun, Cho Jin-woong, Jeong Man-sik, Shin Jung-keun, and Jang In-sub.

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