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Seven Days
Korean: 세븐 데이즈 Seven Days
Yunjin Kim
Year: 2007
Director: Won Sin-Yeon
Writer: Yoon Je-Goo, Won Sin-Yeon
  Cast: Yunjin Kim, Park Hee-Soon, Kim Mi-Sook, Choi Myung-Su, Jang Hang-Seon, Yang Jin-Woo, Jeong Dong-Hwan
  The Skinny: Seven Days is a flashy Hollywood-style thriller that strains credibility with a killer concept. However, the star performance by Yunjin Kim makes this a worthwhile watch.
Kevin Ma:

Finding a killer hook is half the battle for a successful commercial film. The Korean thriller Seven Days has accomplished just that with its casting - and not only for Korea, but for English-speaking territories as well. After all, its star Yunjin Kim already speaks in her native Korean on the American hit TV show Lost which means non-Korean fans of the show won't require much effort to get used to her speaking Korean in a Korean film. In fact, Seven Days is essentially a Hollywood blockbuster thriller in the Korean language, meaning it's even more accessible to a Western audience. That may also explain why the film's remake rights were bought up by Hollywood even before its theatrical release.

Yunjin Kim plays Ji-Yeon, a successful defense lawyer who has never lost a case even when defending shady gangsters. Thanks to movie magic, she's also a single mother that actually has time to participate at her cute young daughter's elementary school sports festival. However, her daughter is kidnapped at the event, and her captor isn't looking for money. Instead, he wants Ji-Yeon to get a convicted murderer off death row at his final appeal trial in less than a week. However, not only does all the evidence point to the prisoner being guilty, but the district attorney's office also assigns a successful prosecutor to go up against her. Meanwhile, Ji-Yeon recruits her tough-as-nails and shades-of-gray cop friend Seong-Yeol to play detective with her. Together, the two attempt to find her daughter.

While Kim has been a successful actress in Korea for years (her breakout film being the Hollywood-style action film Shiri), she has never been required to carry an entire film. In Seven Days, the actress runs, gets beaten up, screams, cries, and even gets licked on the face. Despite the multiple challenges, Kim carries the role with gusto, expressing the intensity of Ji-Yeon's situation, regardless of the absurdity it reaches. This is the type of role that a major actress needs to prove her star status, and it's easy to see why Kim's performance reportedly helped create word-of-mouth during the film's successful theatrical run in Korea.

However, it's not as easy to understand the other reason that brought on the word-of-mouth, namely the plot. Seven Days features an intriguing concept, as a well as an effective ticking time bomb that promises edge-of-your-seat thrills. However, like many Hollywood films with similar storylines (Don't Say a Word with Michael Douglas comes to mind), the overstuffed plot strains credibility. It suffers from the "24 Syndrome", packing far too many events into the time given the characters. The film effectively milks the concept as much as it can, throwing out red herrings and plot twists that keep the audience guessing without confusing them. But screenwriter Yoon Je-Goo, making his debut with director Won Sin-Yeon as co-writer, tries too hard to pile on the emotions, especially when Ji-Yeon meets the mother of the convicted killer's victim. This particular relationship brings up some dramatically intriguing concepts about maternal love, but it also threatens to slow down the already exposition-heavy plot with too much meditation on parenthood.

Director Won Sin-Yeon keeps the film moving with a palpable energy, employing the now-popular shaky-cam style. However, this style also distracts, as certain scenes are too intense in their shaking and cutting for their own good. Still, the film's production values are slick, delivering a gritty look without ever seeming less than technically proficient, despite Won's claims that he struggled with insufficient budget during the shoot. Won also one-ups Hollywood by daring to present the violence in a graphic and bloody manner instead of shying away to deliver a more commercially-friendly product. The violence is sometimes presented in such an explicit manner that it risks become exploitative. Still, this flirtation with exploitation may be Won's way of desensitizing the audience, thus making the violence easier to accept.

After nearly two hours of loud and flashy high concept filmmaking, Seven Days offers up a final twist that surprisingly works on multiple levels. Like any good twist ending, it makes the audience think twice about the seemingly trivial things that came before and the characters that passed by. It also continues a refreshing mean streak that the writers set up throughout, and doesn't leave the audience frustrated. However, it's the credibility-straining events and annoyingly flashy filmmaking that keep Seven Days from being what it could've been. The filmmakers do manage to bring some of the best traits from Hollywood into Korean cinema with the film - which means Hollywood should theoretically have no problem regurgitating their own formula in America. In fact, since Yunjin Kim already speaks fluent English, the producers can simply bring her back for the remake. It's a star role that she surely deserves. (Kevin Ma 2008)


DVD (Korea)
Region 3 NTSC
KD Media
3-disc Limited Edition
16x9 Anamorphic Widescreen
Korean Language Track
Dolby Digital 5.1
*Also Available on Blu-ray Disc


image courtesy Copyright 2002-2017 Ross Chen