Review: Mishaps, murder, mayhem in ‘Hard Day’

Tom Long
The Detroit News

“A Hard Day” is one wild ride, as fast-paced a thriller as you’ll find. It’s seems certain that some Hollywood producer will try to remake this breathless South Korean film, but they’re going to have a tough time topping the original.

We start out with — and almost never leave — homicide detective Go Geon-soo (Sun-kyun Lee) as he’s driving from his mother’s funeral to the dressing of her body for burial.

At the same time, Internal Affairs investigators are combing through his squad room looking for evidence to indict him.

Suddenly, he sees a dog in the road, swerves to avoid it, turns his head back for a second to curse the dog and then smashes into something else.

That something else turns out to be a man, now dead in the street. Go ends up packing the dead body into the trunk of his car, planning to dispose of it later. He arrives at the place where his mother’s body is being readied for the casket, and finds his fellow cops, also being investigated. They tell him Internal Affairs is on the way; they want to search his car.

Predicaments such as this fall like dominoes through the movie, tangling Go up in a web of corruption, confrontation, murder and well-placed explosives. Director-writer Seong-hoon Kim has a seemingly endless bag of tricks, turns and surprises, none of which work out very well for Go, who is, indeed, corrupt — the assumption seems to be all Korean police are — but minor league compared to what he encounters.

There’s no cheap attempt at underlying meaning here, just a steady, heady rush of panic and mishap that’s mesmerizing. “A Hard Day” is exhausting in the best way.

‘A Hard Day’


Not rated

Running time: 111 minutes

At The Detroit Film Theatre