February 13, 2016

24 Hours to Die: No Luck, No Pity

I had a strange experience while watching Kwon Hyeong-jin's 24 Hours to Die in that, at first, my heart really went out to the main character (Yoo Hae-jin), a humble, average-looking, working-class dad who's cute-as-a-button daughter (Lee Joon-ha) has the same heart ailment that killed his wife. But at some point my own heart went cold and I just didn't care anymore. As our pathetic hero's lot grew worse and worse, I continued to watch but now from a very detached point of view. God, how I disliked him. He got ripped off by a friend at poker. Too bad. He got framed by a mob boss (Kim Tae-Han) for multiple murders. Who cares? He picked up a serial killer (Jin Ku) who ended up incriminating him for a subsequent series of brutal murders. Well, he deserved it.

I wasn't mean about it. I didn't want his daughter to die. Or his truck to get a flat. Or him to get accidentally shot by a cop (Bang Yeong) with a strange nose injury hidden by bandages. I didn't care what happened to him. When, during the final, sometimes-underwater wrestling match with his nemesis whose one eye he's slashed with a shard of glass and the other, popped with his finger or thumb, and our protagonist discovered that miraculously, the bad guy's eyes have somehow come back, I assumed the freak return of the eyeballs was an editing oversight. Producers watching the dailies refused to give any more funds. The actors wouldn't return for a reshoot. Screenwriter Jang Hyung-mo considered renaming himself Alan Smithee. Unless the movie was suddenly getting poetic or trippy. Maybe the gaffe is art? Whatever the cause, I certainly welcomed the shock.

In the movie's favor is this marvelous tagline: "A cargo of corpses, a serial killer on the loose and one very unlucky driver."

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