Fantasia 2018 Review: “1987: When the Day Comes” (2017) ★★★★★


There’s nothing better than a political thriller, but not nothing worse than seeing how a human life is lost due to the greed and thirst for power. “1987: When the Day Comes” is an extremely fast-paced thriller about what it takes to stand against the regime that will stop at nothing to retain its power for as long as it can. And for that if it feels killing is necessary, it would not hesitate to do it forgetting one thing, no matter how closed and corrupt the country is, the truth will find its way out. And when it happens, there is nothing more to expect other than what you will see in Jang-Joon-hwan’s movie no matter how harsh it may look…

Set in 1987 and based on a true story, the film concentrates on the events that makes an entire country to protest every single day known as the June Democratic Uprising in Korea, which was triggered by the death of a student protestor during police interrogation, which, as usual, the authorities tried to cover up making up a false story. However, the determination of a few people, including prosecutor Choi Hwan (Ha Jung-woo) and reporter Yoon Sang-sam (Lee Hee-joon) to do what many would probably be afraid to, showcase that there were still people existing within the system that weren’t afraid of losing their job or even life, even if they were the only person left to spread the true fact about the conspiracy, killing, corruption and the abuse of power during the time of President Chun Doo-hwan.

The entire movie is remarkably painful to watch. As every event unfolds so extremely quickly, the viewer has limited time to take a breath or rest a bit. A bit over two hours of running time, Jang Joon-hwan as a filmmaker makes sure the viewer will be stunned or left speechless by the events which occurred in 1987 told in a heartbreaking fashion. The exceptional music composed by Kim Tae-seong or dark and visually stunning cinematography by Kim Woo-hyung, the movie transports the audience right to the heart of June Democracy movement, giving details that will cause goosebumps.

Kim Yoon-seok as the Commissioner Park Cheo-won, Ha Jung-woo as the Prosecutor Choi Hwan, Yoo Hae-jin as Warder Han Byung-yong, Kim Tae-ri as Yeon-hee, Lee Hee-joon as Reporter Yoon Sang-sam, Yeo Jin-goo as Park Jong-chui deliver the performance of their careers. All the performances you see are emotional, deep and provocative. Almost like if they were at the center of the actual event where they did not have to pretend to be someone else. This helped the movie to leave a deep impact on the audience and to tell the true story in a thoughtful way.

A lot can be said about “1987: When the Day Comes”, however, as soon as you see it, you will realize that there is no way of watching this piece other than feeling like a close participant. It provides that heartbreaking part of history that I am sure every country will have its own to tell. It shows that patience is not limitless, corruption or autocracy won’t have a long life to live if people become one and stand against it. The events occurred in 1987 in South Korea can be served as an evidence to one thing: unity is the key to end any regime and the cause to it can be anything, but in the case of this particular movie, the death of a young student whose life was interrupted abruptly by those who acted like God leads to the protest that will eventually reward the nation… and those who died will never find out the impact their death had on the course of history….


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