Reviewed By

Christopher Armstead
How bad can a day be? Well, if you are Detective Go (Lee Sun-kyun), you are about to find out how bad a day can go as we head to one my absolute favorite places to experience a crime thriller, that place being South Korea, to watch director Kim-Seong hun's crime thriller 'A Hard Day', which is big old batch of dark awesome. With comedy. I know, right? Koreans, I tell you.

We meet Detective Go driving late at night, getting pestered by his sister for being late for the prepping of his recently departed mother. Then his daughter starts harassing him about a chocolate cake. Dang girl, your grandma just died… chill. Then he almost runs over a cute dog. Phew! Avoided that disaster… Oh snap! Now he's just run over a human being.

Now what? Well, I'm thinking that if we take in consideration that his mother just died and all, and he is grieving, we just call the police and deal with it. As we will find out, that's just not Detective Go's style as he is a master at making absolutely terrible, but entertaining decisions.

A lot of these decisions you must experience for yourself on an organic level, but there is someone out there who is fully aware of Detective Go's terrible decision making and this person wants him to fix one of these terrible decisions. At first our 'hero' was stressing out mightily about this cat putting all this pressure on him, but then he figures out he's the one with the upper hand, so screw that guy. Thus we see in addition to making terrible decisions, we also observe that Detective Go isn't all that bright either, because this guy doesn't like being messed with. Not even a little bit.

So the situation for Detective Go, as it stands now, is a daunting one. On one hand he has a dead body to produce to a crazed maniac, on the other hand he has to keep this dead body hidden because people are looking for it. He's not the cleanest police officer on the force, so the web of Internal Affairs is tightening down on him, his fellow officers are also tightening down on him, even though they don't know that they are, and his mom just died. And he's kind of a jerk to top it all off.
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Here's why 'A Hard Day' probably shouldn't work. There's no real 'hero' in this movie. In fact, except for a few people off to the side like Go's sister and his baby girl, most of the people in this movie are pretty terrible. And when we think about it, the sister is a little bitchy and the kid is kind of a brat. Thus it has been my experience that when we have a movie where we have bad things happening to people who aren't all that great to begin with, and the onus is on us rooting for these less than stellar people to come through in the end, that usually doesn't work. Heck if I know why, but that very same scenario works pretty darn good here.

It could be because even though our hero is a bit of a crooked cop, he's a fairly incompetent crooked cop which does serve the purpose of softening his crookedness. Plus his mom just died. Who can't have a touch of empathy for someone who just lost their mom? Plus he's always one step behind. Imagine Barney Fife as a crooked cop and this is kind of what you have with Detective Go. And then there's our villain as played by actor Cho Jin-woong who is one part Don Rickles and one part The Incredible Hulk. With a dash of Aquaman tossed in for good measure. Aquaman? Yes… Aquaman. Even though he's our villain, and does plenty of villainous stuff in this movie, it's also hard to root against him as well because he's so funny.

Now if we were to give this narrative that we are working with a little deconstruction, we could come to the simple conclusion it doesn't make a whole lot of sense, considering most of what Detective Go is going through could probably be put to a screeching halt with just one halfway decent, logical decision, but then this leads us to another thing this movie has going for it, that being speed and tension. This movie is always moving forward, Detective Go's back is always against the wall, the speed and tension rarely lets up, only on the rare occasion to either let us in on just a tiny bit of Detective Go's family life, so at least we can have a hint of what is at stake for him, or it will pause to give him a moment of quiet reflection to make another awful decision.

Then there's the humor, which was a little unexpected as well. Of course most of this humor is of the dark variety. We are talking pitch black dark, but it is humor and it is funny, and who can complain about that? Not us, that's for sure.

A wacky, over the top, roller coaster ride of murder thriller. Those South Koreans, I tell you. The film world would be almost no fun at all if South Koreans did not exist.
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