A HARD DAY [LONDON FILM FESTIVAL]

PrintE-mail Written by Peter Turner

MOVIE REVIEW: A HARD DAY / CERT: 15 / DIRECTOR: KIM SEONG-HUN / SCREENPLAY: KIM SEONG-HUN / STARRING: LEE SUN-GYUN, CHO JIN-WOONG, SHIN JUNG-GEUN, JUNG MAN-SIK / RELEASE DATE: TBC

As understatements go, A Hard Day’s title is up there with the best of them. A dark comedy thriller from South Korea in which detective Ko Gun-su (Lee Sun-gyun) is having a monumentally shitty day before things turn from bad to farce. On the night that he is supposed to be burying his mother, Gun-su has a couple of drinks before speeding his way into a fatal hit and run accident. At the same time his corrupt cronies are being investigated by internal affairs, a turn of events exacerbated by his rash decision to dispose of the body of the hit and run victim himself. Covering his tracks is just the beginning for Gun-su as his plan begins to unravel at the hands of a fellow predatory cop who has decided to blackmail him.

With pitch black humour that takes in botched burials, dumb decisions and tense stand offs, A Hard Day pilfers from a range of genres to offer something gripping, ridiculous and twisted. Starting out like a particularly dark episode of Some Mothers Do ‘Ave ‘Em with Gun-su really being put through the wringer by writer and director Kim Seong-hun , complication piles on complication as our anti-hero keeps trying to bribe or outsmart his way out of an increasingly preposterous mess. The scene where Gun-su has to dispose of a body by using a child’s toy and his own mother’s coffin is a particular highlight that the rest of the film tries but almost fails to keep up with.

However, ludicrous soon turns to serious with the introduction of rival cop Park Chang-min (Cho Jin-Woong), but there are still plenty of guilty laughs as Gun-su’s nightmare spirals increasingly out of control. With wonderfully kinetic chases and some occasionally vicious violence, A Hard Day scores serious points for making its anti-hero strangely sympathetic. Kim really knows how to milk the suspense from a set piece, no matter how funny the twists and turns are.

With two perfectly unhinged performances from Lee Sun-gyun and Cho Jin-woong, writer-director Kim Seong-hun takes great pleasure in pushing his actors by forcing his protagonist into increasingly tight corners. With its fast pace and frequent bursts of humour, A Hard Day is an easy film to get a kick out of.

Expected Rating: 6 out of 10

Actual Rating:

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