Thanks to a screening at Fantasia Fest 2018, we get, six months after our US neighbors,  director Jang Joon-hwan (and writer Kim Kyung-chan)’s 1987: When the Day Comes, a political thriller based on true events surrounding South Korea’s June Democracy Movement toward the end of the 1980’s.

In 1987, after an interrogation gone wrong at the hands of the secret anti-communists police, real life student protester Park Jong-chul died of his inflicted wounds. Little we knew, at this point, that it would change the political landscape of the country during the following months.  Actor Ha Jung-woo is prosecutor Choi Hwan. He tries to unveil the truth behind the cover up, setting in motion a violent race against time and secret police ready for anything in order to stop him or any other individuals and group they classify as communists when ever it suits them.

While being no Francesco Rosi- Costa-Gavras political statement in stature, 1987: When the Day Comes is a fast paced, well edited picture. It skillfully underline in a comprehensive way (there is a lot of characters to follow) the paranoia of the period and time set against the backdrop of the perpetual feud of political turmoil with the shadow of the cousins up North.

Although it is a bit overdone at times for dramatic purposes aiming at a wide audience, with too much music to embellish some drama inputs that we already understand as sad and terrifying (also with added fictional romantic characters), it is well managed and efficient with a great cast.  It is a good introduction to some parts of the story of South Korea that North American audiences are not very familiar with, much in the vein of last year delightful A Taxi Driver.

Fantasia Screening: Friday, July 27th, 5:15 PM – Concordia University’s J.A. De Seve Cinema

Official Fantasia Website