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November 20, 2015

A Hard Day


Kim Seong-hoon - 2014
Kino Lorber BD Region A

There's a scene in A Hard Day where a giant, and I mean over-sized, block falls on top of a car, virtually flattening it. Any potential laugh is undercut with the knowledge that there was a police officer in said car. Yet the exaggerated size of that block and the visual impact made me think of something that Chuck Jones would have done in a Road Runner cartoon. This is the story about a bad, corrupt cop being blackmailed by an even badder, more corrupt cup. Between the punches, explosions, and seemingly indestructible nature of these two, no matter how beaten and bruised, there are times when A Hard Day would seem like the Korean thriller as imagined by Chuck Jones.

Homicide Detective Ko drives to his mother's funeral drunk, hits some guy on the road, gets in trouble with the cops at a DUI checkpoint by trying to hide his inebriation and the body in the car trunk, and then tries to hide the body in his mother's coffin. Making things worse is when Ko finds out that far from being alone on the road, someone else has observed him, and that there's also a video camera that filmed his car at the time of the accident.

The Korean title translates as "Take it to the end", which is essentially what happens when Ko encounters fellow cop Park. Ko's job is on the line for the various bribes taken, small potatoes when he finds out about Park and Park's interest in the buried man. Kim presents the various factions of cops as a kind of boys' club where throwing things at each other, slapping, and hitting each other for real or imagined infractions, small scale violence, is the order of the day. Each team thinks of itself as a brotherhood, simultaneous with a sometimes vicious sibling rivalry.

Kim mixes things up visually, with a car chase shot low from the front of a car, virtually hurling the viewer into the action, tilted shots during the fights, and at one point filming Ko chasing a small-time hood with the camera high overhead with the two avoiding the rush of car traffic. As Park, Cho Jin-woong has been nominated, and in several events, won for Best Supporting Actor. Physically bigger than anyone else in the film, Cho plays Park as the overly friendly and helpful pal who let's you know in no uncertain terms when you are on his bad side.

The blu-ray come with interviews with Kim, Cho and star Lee Sun-kyun, as well as deleted scenes which primarily add a little more to the characterization of Detective Ko.


Posted by Peter Nellhaus at November 20, 2015 08:45 AM