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Original Title:
Seven Days

South Korea 2007

Thriller, Drama

Won Shin-yeon

Kim Yun-jin
Park Hee-soon
Choi Myeong-su
Kim Mi-Sook
Yang Jin-woo
Jang Hang-seon
Jeong Dong-hwan
Lee Jeong-heon
Oh Kwang-rok
Seo Dong-soo
Jo Deok-hyeon
Lee Ra-hye

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Seven Days

Story: Female lawyer Yoo has always won her cases. However, her winning streak and her talent eventually become her downfall, as her little daughter gets kidnapped one day. The culprit doesn't demand any ransom, but wants Yoo to legally represent a criminal, who seems to be getting the death penalty when his case doesn't get handled by a skilled lawyer. Nevertheless, Yoo just has a few days to convince the jury of Cheol-jin's (Choi Myeong-su) innocence, the man she has to get out of jail to see her daughter again.
Getting a helping hand from Kim Seong-yeol (Park Hee-soon), a cop who is under investigation by the internal affairs department, Yoo chases after all evidence she can find. Cheol-jin is accused to have bruthisly mutilated a woman and then hidden her body someplace else. The corpse has been found, and there are traces of Cheol-jin all over the original crime scene. Nonetheless, the evidence doesn't seem to be conclusive as Cheol-jin would have never come up with the carefulness that was shown in the removal of the dead body. Someone else seems to be involved in this murder and Yoo, while time is running out for her, has to find out that the culprit must be someone in a high position. Yoo has to win the case no matter what as this is about her daughter's life. A race against time commences...

Review: "Seven Days" has quite a history. At first being produced under the name "Thursday's Child", there were some quarrels with the director so that leading actress Kim Seon-ah jumped off the project, which lead to the film staying on ice. Director Won Shin-yeon ("A Bloody Aria", "The Wig") was aware of the movie's potential and took over the project, which he named "Seven Days". As the leading actress he could get Kim Yun-jin ("Diary of June", "Shiri") on board, who supposedly just had some free time, because of the script writer's strike in America that led to her not being obligated to the hit-series "Lost" at that time. Normally, such problems mean everything but good fortune for a movie, and therefore we have to ask if the end product was actually worth all the effort. Unfortunately, there is no easy answer to that. "Seven Days" has its strength and is without a doubt very captivating and thrilling. Nonetheless, it doesn't manage to fully use all of its potential, in the end. The biggest sore point is that the characters should have been drawn more detailed. Also, the drama works only partially. Still, despite all this you have to ask yourself if this is really something to fret about, as Won's thriller is actually very entertaining.

The movie throws you into the action right from the start. We get to know of the abduction of Yoo's child and then are introduced to the events that occured earlier by utilisation of some flashbacks. There is one thing that catches our eyes right from the very beginning, since it is also rather annoying. And that's the frantic directing. The camera is in constant motion, the cuts are incredibly fast and the camera also stays on the actor's faces more close-up than usual. During the action scenes, and together with the adrenaline-loaden soundtrack, this creates the necessary kinetic energy to have the needed impact on the audience, but it becomes really interfering during the dramatic moments. It's not easy to tell what the director's intentions were or where he wanted to go with this, but luckily we get somewhat used to all of the camera waving with time. Nevertheless, this doesn't change the fact that this kind of directing can be quite exhausting for the viewer after a while.
Anyway, what you have to give "Seven Days" credit for is that it never becomes tedious. The pacing remains fast all the way through and so the 126 minutes feel a lot shorter than they actually are.

The film does have some downsides when it comes to the script, though. The plot is quite overloaden. The case gets more and more complicated by the minute, the circle of suspects widens as things progress, and the viewer is really eager to get an answer to the obvious question "Who the hell is the actual culprit?". But, you have to show some patience, as the answer becomes more and more out of range, since the script lets Yoo end up in a dead end over and over again, yet as she realizes this she also understands that she holds some new pieces of the puzzle in her hands. Actually, that's the way it's supposed to be in a good thriller. Unfortunately, we often get the feeling that the story is artificially bloated, so that there inevitably have to be some logical gaps. That's sad, especially as the time the director spend on the different revelations and twists really could have been put to better use on the characters and their development. It's difficult to relate to the protagonists as they solely seem to be wheels in the story clockwork and have no real life to them.

It also doesn't help to keep track of the events that the different protagonists chase after evidence which suddenly turns up out of nowhere, and that at times they can pinpoint the location of a suspect by reasons that are so far-fetched that it's impossible for anyone to comprehend. The fast cuts and the back and forth between the characters also add to the matter that confusion creeps over us, which actually may be intended by the director to cover up the many plot holes.
It's especially sad that Kim Yun-jin remains pretty colourless in her role. Actually, her character is someone who helps criminals to avoid getting into prison for their crimes. Thus, a certain ambiguity of her person could have made the film a lot more interesting in general. However, the script limits its story on depicting a protective mother, who wants her child back, yet doesn't show the craftiness she displays in court every day. Why doesn't she try to get behind the identity of the kidnapper by using her wits? Of course, she would have had only little time, but the case she had to get familiar with already gave her all the tools she needed to free her daughter in another way than just by obeying the commands of the kidnapper.

Yoo gets some support by Cop Seong-yeol, played by Park Hee-soon, a cop who hasn't really got a clean record. Park at least manages to bestow some character traits upon his role, but he, too, remains surprisingly shallow. There are only a few side characters that can convince acting-wise.
At the end, "Seven Days" provides us with a final twist that is quite pleasing, but all in all the story seems a bit contrived. Nevertheless, there is enough material to keep the audience busy if they don't want to lose track of events. At times you also might be lead to believe that the plot is actually quite thought-out and smart, but then again you will realize eventually that it's just overloaden and full of plot holes.
Director Won Shin-yeon improved a lot since his unintentionally funny horror film "The Wig", and he succeeds in creating a solid and entertaining thriller. "Seven Days" has some good ideas to it, and Hollywood also seemed to be aware of that. Why else would they have acquired the remake rights for the film before shooting of the original was even finished? Thus, if you are looking for an entertaining thriller treat and don't get your expectations too high, then "Seven Days" will be able to give you a good ride.

(Author: Manfred Selzer)
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