Seven Years of Night (2018)

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A security officer and a vengeful father go head-to-head in this thriller from director Choo Chang-Min.

Choi Hyun-Su is on the edge. He bought an apartment that can barely afford. His wife is constantly nagging him. To try to make ends meet, he has taken a job as a security supervisor at a remote village. After drinking and having fun at a farewell party, Choi heads to the village to take a look at his workplace. However, he soon finds himself in a situation that will change his life forever.

Oh Seung-Je is a local doctor who is a wealthy landowner in Se-ryung Village. However, he has been given the reputation amongst the other villagers as someone who only cares about himself and has gone so far as physically abusing both his wife and daughter. While his wife has left him, he still unleashes his anger on his daughter. When his daughter finally makes her escape, she runs out in the middle of the road, and Hyun-Su accidentally hits her. Hyun-Su panics and decides to put the body inside of a nearby lake. When Oh learns of his daughter’s death, he decides to go on a quest for revenge while Hyun-Su begins to become racked with guilt. What will happen when these two meet face-to-face?

There have been some pretty intense thrillers from Korea, notably perhaps the gold standard in 2003’s Oldboy. However, this latest film from Masqueerade director Choo Chang-Min starts off promising with its plot, but soon delves in an issue involving a sense of underdeveloped characters and adding a little bit of a supernatural feel at times along with a confusing subplot involving the past of one of our two central characters.

Ryu Seong-Ryong plays the embittered Choi Hyun-Su as a man who throughout the film from beginning to end is clearly miserable. Forced to deal with a wife who is constantly nagging him for his actions and worrying about making ends meet, he finds himself in an even bigger rut when he accidentally kills a little girl. Perhaps the most developed character in the film is that of Hyun-Su, who unleashes such negativity and goes as far as doing what is necessary to make sure his family is okay. He only wants what’s best for his wife and son and feels overly underappreciated for his efforts and finds himself in a situation similar to what he has dealt with in his past, hence the use of flashbacks which at times can cause a bit of confusion.

Jang Dong-Gun has had his share of versatile roles. He has played heroes and gangsters to name a few. However, his role in this film as Oh Seung-Je is perhaps his most evil role to date. However, the issue with this character is that it seems a bit one-dimensional. It is clear that while Hyun-Su is not exactly mister innocent, Seung-Je is the epitome of evil. He clearly has that evil look in his eye from the moment he appears on screen for the first time. He is clearly one who has perhaps the biggest ego and shows that sense of power through his abuse and to make matters worse, he berates everyone at his daughter’s funeral, especially when he learns his estranged wife has committed suicide and goes as far as not having a care in the world. For him, it is clearly his way and he doesn’t care who he hurts in the process.

The title more refers to the epilogue of the film where once everything is settled, flashes forward to seven years later and just when one thinks the movie ends, veers off in another direction which brings a sense of both the predictable and the unpredictable. And yet by this time, one might just say…meh.

Seven Years of Night starts off promising with its plot, but a one-dimensional major character and confusion involving the flashbacks, and an epilogue that kind of becomes a little too little too late kind of deal, this is most likely a one-watch only for most. Yet watch it for Ryu Seong-Ryong’s performance of a very tortured soul who just finds himself from one bad situation to a worse one.

WFG RATING: C

CJ Entertainment presents a Pollux Barunson production. Director: Choo Chang-Min. Producers: Ahn Eun-Mi and Yoon Kwang-Hyun. Writers: Choo Chang-Min, Lee Yong-Yeon, and Kim You-Pyung; based on the novel by Jeong You-Jeong. Cinematography: Ha Kyoung-Ho. Editing: Shin Min-Kyung.

Cast: Ryu Seong-Ryong, Jang Dong-Gun, Song Sae-Byuk, Ko Kyoung-Pyo, Moon Jeong-Hee, Seong Byung-Sook, Jeon Bae-Soo, Tang Joon-Sang.

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