`Seven Days’ Offers Gripping Suspense
By Lee Hyo-won
``Seven Days'' just may be what audiences have all been waiting for: a great homegrown crime thriller. With a good serving of believable characters, a scoop of wholesome drama, and even a sprinkle of good humor, director/scripter Won Shin-yun whips together all the right ingredients to offer an edge of the seat experience.
The main plotline is fairly simple. Ji-yeon (Kim Yun-jin) is a hotshot lawyer who wins case after case. One day her daughter is kidnapped, and the abductor gives her seven days to win an impossible case ― to set free a man whose death sentence is practically set ― or else she will never see the child again.
The abductor orchestrates the perfect crime. He watches her every move and forces her to comply by outwitting the police. Ji-yeon has no time to break down because she must run around in a frenzy to get this case together.
To make things worse, those around her get in her way. Her friend Seong-yeol (Park Heui-soon), a less than perfect policeman, is too tangled up in his own mess to help her out. In the meantime, the prosecutor is a longtime rival who's determined to crush Ji-yeon and naturally gives her a hard time. Plus he's backed by a power-thirsty superintendent.
To top off our protagonist's misery, she faces moral a dilemma. Her client is charged with brutally murdering a young woman, with almost all evidence proving his guilt. When she meets the mother of the victim, her own motherly instincts surface.
But deeper into the investigation, dark secrets unravel one after another in a rhythmical fashion. The movie deals with some heavy issues ― drugs, violence, corruption and loopholes within the judicial system, but they add to the gripping drama rather than weigh it down. The crime investigation scene is delightfully reminiscent of ``CSI,'' which is highly popular here.
These well thought-out subplots are in tune with the fast-paced beat of the movie, and even minor characters contribute to the intrigue.
The 126-minute running time goes by quickly as seven suffocating days tick by like a time bomb. The surprise ending is not contrived; rather, it hits you with a deep pang as you go with the suspenseful flow of the film, piecing together fragments of the case.
Actress Kim Yung-jin returns to the Korean screen for the first time in two years. The star of ``Lost'' gives a compelling performance with her screaming and running around, which is done with tasteful moderation. She manages to keep her cool by finding the right balance as a distraught mother and elite lawyer. Kim gives life to one strong-willed woman with a high emotional quotient ― a three-dimensional heroine that is quite rare in Korean cinema.
Park Heui-soon also deserves a pat on the back as a grumbling police officer, who walks the fine line between a thug and officer. Kim Yun-jin complemented the actor as a ``prepared star,'' and one can surely expect to see more of Park in the future.
Be warned, however, that the shaky hand-held camerawork may leave some feeling a bit nauseous.