Monday, 16 March 2015


We've been neglecting our South Korean movies of late, probably because official UK releases have been so few and far between. To say that Seong-hoon Kim's latest thrill-ride sneaked up on us would be a colossal understatement. A Hard Day debuted to great reviews at the 2014 Cannes Film Festival but failed to find an audience back home upon initial release. However, strong word of mouth meant that the film came good in the final straight, placing second place for four weeks at the local box office.

Geon-soo (Seon-gyun Lee) is having a bad day. He's received a divorce notice from his wife, has an embezzlement case hanging over his head at work and is on the way back from his mothers funeral. The last thing he needs is to run somebody over in a hit-and-run accident. In a moment of panic he attempts to cover up the crime, hiding the body and moving on with his troubled life. However, when he receives a phone call from a mystery person claiming to have witnessed the accident, it seems like the worst is yet to come. What follows is rarely original but highly intoxicating just the same.

Seon-gyun Lee (R-Point) is electrifying in the lead role, recalling Michael Douglas' jittery performance in Joel Schumacher's Falling Down. He also resembles a toned-down Donnie Yen, physically at least, but without the fighting skills. Or maybe that was just wishful thinking on my part. Man-shik Jeong (The Yellow Sea) is great value for money too, grabbing less screen time but making the most of it with a scene-stealing turn. Seong-hoon Kim certainly knows how to crank up the tension, delivering a thrill-a-minute joyride of riotous twists and turns - few unexpected but expertly handled all the same.

With a little jet-black humour thrown in for good measure, A Hard Day is one of the most compelling South Korean thrillers of recent years. It certainly doesn't break the mould but you won't want to take your eyes off it for a second. Great stuff.

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