A SCENE from the fim A Hard Day — YOUTUBE/VIVAFILMS

MMFF Movie Review
A Hard Day
Directed by Lawrence Fajardo

ADAPTED from the critically and commercially successful 2014 South Korean action thriller of the same name, A Hard Day pulls no punches when it comes to the intensity of both acting and fighting scenes.

It starts off with high stakes already — corrupt detective Edmund Villon (played by Dingdong Dantes) runs over a man on his way to his mother’s wake and chooses to cover up the accident by hiding the body in painstaking ways. Meanwhile, his team’s office is being searched by the police internal affairs department. In all the hullabaloo, he forgets to buy his daughter a present he had promised her.

By this point, we’re in for a ride with crooked protagonist Villon, which Mr. Dantes plays sufficiently in leading-man fashion. But things get really exciting when he discovers that the body he hid belongs to Apyong, a man involved in a drug case his team must investigate, and doubly so when a mysterious man (played excellently by scene-stealer John Arcilla) emerges, a witness to Villon’s accident and his charismatic harasser to the very end.

Despite being a remake of award-winning Kim Seong-hun’s work, the screenplay feels as if it’s naturally Filipino, which is good news for an adaptation. This is in large part due to the supporting cast who, whether in dramatic, comedic, or action scenes, provide texture to the story, namely Villon’s coworkers at the intel department (Janno Gibbs, Garry Lim, Al Tantay), his family (Meg Imperial, Lhiane Key Gimeno), and a traffic officer that gives Villon much grief in the beginning (played by Jelson Bay).

Lawrence Fajardo’s direction and editing gives it the dynamic energy that any thriller needs and Rodolfo Aves, Jr.’s cinematography serves the action-packed scenes well. It’s safe to say that this may be one of the most engaging entries in this year’s Metro Manila Film Festival.

Though A Hard Day doesn’t bring anything new to the table, it’s got much an audience would want — Mr. Arcilla being a despicable badass who taunts the perpetually aggravated Mr. Dantes, well-choregraphed and painful-looking fist fights, insane explosions, fast-paced car chases, a bit of humor, and even a cute dog that’s important to the plot. — Bronte H. Lacsamana

MTRCB Rating: R-13