A piece of cinematic sleight-of-hand that provides plenty of passing thrills, “7 Days” is at least two too many movies rolled into one. Part kidnap drama, part murder mystery, part psychodrama and part legal-eagle yarn, over-egged script gets by with punchy visuals and some strong supporting perfs but leaves the viewer feeling emotionally and intellectually shortchanged. Released locally mid-November, pic looks unlikely to replicate its peppy take of $14 million in other territories, though there’s plenty enough good material here for a U.S. makeover to score, following Summit Entertainment’s purchase of remake rights at AFM.
Starting off with a socko pre-credits sequence and main title straight out of the “CSI” handbook, pic has hotshot defense lawyer Yu Ji-yeon (Kim Yun-jin, “Shiri,” TV’s “Lost”) finding a note that her 8-year-old daughter, Eun-yeong (Lee Ra-hye), has been kidnapped. Flashback to the day before shows how mom took part in a school student-and-parent relay race with Eun-yeong, who went missing afterward.
Captions check off the days as Ji-yeon learns that the kidnapper doesn’t want ransom money. Instead, with her lawyerly smarts, she has to get off a sleazebag who’s been found guilty of murder, and whose case is coming to appeal next Wednesday. By now, she has four days to do the seemingly impossible or she’ll never see her daughter again.
In a seemingly open-and-shut case, Jeong Cheol-jin (Choi Myeong-su), was convicted of the bloody slaughter of an art student a month earlier. Ji-yeon teams up with maverick cop (and old friend) Kim Seong-yeol (Park Heui-sun) to reinvestigate the crime, in the meantime receiving threatening cat-and-mouse calls from the kidnapper.
Crowded plot, which involves drugs, a high-level cover-up and possible police connivance, is further complicated by Seong-yeol being under investigation by internal affairs and crises like Eun-yeong needing emergency medication for a tuna allergy. Despite pic’s title, most of the story is crammed into three days, further stretching credibility.
Final two reels work overtime to bring all the various storylines together, — and even then the plot doesn’t hold up under close investigation.
Borrowing heavily from the visual palette of American crime series, plus pics like “Seven,” helmer Won Shin-yeon (“A Bloody Aria”) constructs several adrenaline-filled setpieces, pumped up by Kim Jun-seong’s propulsive score. But as the red herrings mount while the characters’ psychological development stays in neutral, the leaps of logic become more and more exposed.
Tech package is up to the usual high South Korean standards; however, the nervy camera style and editing progressively work against the human drama rather than support it.
In the central role, Kim Yun-jin is just OK, never really gaining the viewer’s empathy for a complex character who’s clearly used to bending the law for her own career. Though onscreen virtually the whole time, she’s outclassed in individual scenes by flavorsome playing from vet Kim Mi-suk as the dead girl’s mother, Choi as the convicted killer and Oh Gwang-rok in a crucial supporting role as a gangster client.
References in the script to “Thursday’s Child” refer to the original title of the pic, which had a choppy production history. Shooting originally began in late 2006 under scripter Yun Je-gu, with actress Kim Seon-ah (“S-Diary”) in the lead; after a hiatus, during which Kim left the project, shooting resumed in 2007 with Kim Yun-jin in the lead and Won directing.