16 October 2014 | alwayshungryy
South Korean cinema in "fun mode".
Director Kim Seong-hoon's sophomore film A Hard Day arrives 8 years after his directorial debut, How The Lack Of Love Affects Two Men was released back in 2006.
Now, this film is a nerve racking roller-coaster ride, so the less you know going in the better. I shall attempt to introduce this film in one sentence: A comedy-action-thriller about the chaos that ensues after a detective is involved in a hit and run.
The film smoothly and skillfully balances the dark comedy, action and thriller elements, giving us ingenious set pieces (a particularly memorable one involving a toy soldier...) and also well-paced and effective suspense. The film does not waste a shot, let alone a scene to make audiences laugh, squirm and be intrigued through it's twists and turns. It's tightly-wound from beginning to end and will surely be one of the best times you'll have in the cinema (or in your home) this year.
Lee Seon-gyun (who you may recognize from Hong Sang-soo's films such as Nobody's Daughter Haewon) plays the lead role of detective Ko, a divorced father of a little girl who may not be the most ethical of cops. Lee carries the film, delivering a charismatic and humorous performance that makes us root for his character when he is faced with tough situations and pitted against Cho Jin-Woong's formidable protagonist. Kudos to Cho for interestingly pulling off a role that could have easily been bland.
This film was also filmed beautifully. It's gorgeous to look at, thanks to cinematographer Kim Tae-Sung, who gives us dynamic and impressive shots (one that immediately comes to mind is an overhead shot during a chase).
It's refreshing to see a South Korean film that's playful and never stops being fun, after the recent slew of superb but disturbing, dark thrillers such as I Saw The Devil, New World and The Man From Nowhere. Don't be fooled, this film has its dark moments. Most importantly, it holds one of the quintessential elements of movies: taking audiences on a ride that endlessly intrigues and keep them wanting more, having no clue where the next moment will take them.