Cho Jin-woong, left, and Lee Sun-kyun in a scene from "A Hard Day" / Courtesy of Showbox
Cho Jin-woong plays detective Park Chang-min who witnesses a crime scene in the new film "A Hard Day."
By Baek Byung-yeul
When three local noir films hit the big screens a week after the new "X-Men" franchise was released, no one anticipated the least expected "A Hard Day" would laugh last.
Movie fans' most eagerly awaited movie was probably "No Tears for the Dead," the latest movie of director Lee Joeng-beom, who's best known for his 2010 action flick, "The Man from Nowhere," teaming up with Jang Dong-gun, undoubtedly one of the country's top actors or "Man on High Heels," a star director Jang Jin's new directional movie, starring A-list star Cha Seung-won. Despite of those rosy prospects, the two films only drew some 580,000 and 320,000, being criticized by fans and critics.
Though it starred two veteran actors having rather weak star-powered ― Lee Sun-kyun and Cho Jin-woong ― as front men, "A Hard Day" has been keeping no.2 in box-office, garnering more than 2.2 million audiences as of Tuesday according to the Korean Film Council, following Tom Cruise's new blockbuster "Edge of Tomorrow," which drew more than 3.1 million.
Directed by Kim Seong-hun, the film revolves around the detective who falls into the bottomless pit because of just a moment's carelessness.
The noir thriller starts with a scene that detective Ko Gun-su (Lee Sun-kyun) accidentally kills a passerby by his car and lays the body in his mother's coffin. But the seemingly perfect plot comes to nothing as Ko realizes that another detective Park Chang-min (Cho Jin-woong) witnesses the crime scene. To tie his tongue, Park demands Ko should bring the corpse that Ko buried in a grave together with his mother.
Afterwards the two begin running parallel line, and the film races like an unstoppable train till the end.
As the flick goes viral, "A Hard Day" quickly reached its break-even point garnering 1.6 million audiences 11 days after its releasing. Prospectors say that the current box-office data suggests that the movie will be able to garner more than 3 million.
A critic diagnosed that the unexpected popularity of "A Hard Day" is thanks to the fact that it staunchly obeyed grammar of commercial cinema.
"The success factor is that the movie didn't break boundary of the typical noir thriller. And it is fun. It is pretty much similar to playing video game that induces players to clear every stage until they get to the final boss," said a movie critic Kang Yu-jung.
"It doesn't ask who is wrong or good when the two actors are competing against each other. It, instead, keeps asking us what would happen in the following scenes."
Kang also stressed that a great synergy of two actors is another factor.
"Casting Lee and Cho seemingly looked weak in terms of ticket sales before releasing, but it actually turns out great due to their outstanding and outrageous performances," Kang added.
"A Hard Day" is on screen nationwide. Rated 15 and over. Runs 111 minutes. In Korean.