Saturday, July 28, 2018

Fantasia '18 Film Review - 1987 : When The Day Comes

The 6 month period from January to June 1987 bookended by two student deaths that truly made South Korea a democracy is the subject of 1987: When the Day Comes. Director Jang Joon-hwan explorers how the events effects families, government corruption, police brutality, media an underground spy network and the justice system in the feature. The film opens with the water torture death of student Park Jong-chul at the hands of the anti-communist department of the government. Kim Yun-seok takes the lead as Park Cheo-won director of Anti-Communist affairs. His foil is Choi Hwan (Park Cheo-won) the prosecutor that refused to rubberstamp their request to get rid of Park's body. After the first roadblock, the cover up unravels cumulating when Choi Hwan leaks the real autopsy report to journalist Yoon Sang-Sam (Lee Hee-jun) mounting public pressure and leading to charges in the director's department.

The other major storyline surrounds the death of student protestor Lee Han-yeol (Gang Dong-won) his campus cartoon club where activist activities occur plus his relationship with The Handmaiden's Kim Tae-ri  as Yeon-Hee whose Uncle Han Byung-Yong (Yoo Hae-jin) is involved in the underground spy network secretly passing messages to get the real news out to the public.

Director Jang takes on the monumental task of presenting perhaps the most important time in South Korea's history with this film delivering a very complicated subject clearly especially for an audience that is may not be familiar to the events. When a key character is introduced their two or three line bio is typewritten on the screen to inform the viewer. The backchannel underground spy network is explored passing messages through hidden notes in popular magazines rolled up and carried openly in public to avoid suspicion at random police street checks. The brutality of the police, torture interrogation techniques, intimidation and bribery perpetrated by those who claim their work is patriotic is also highlighted.

1987: When The Day Comes recounts a profoundly important time period in South Korean history. Its also a study on how important it is for people to take a stand, speak up and be accounted for seeing wrongs being committed. Here it started with Prosecutor Choi Hwan then spread to medical professionals, prison officials, the media all knowing the potential consequences. That underlying message is important at anytime but rings true today given the political climates in many spots around the world.

1987: When the Day Comes | Jang Joon-hwan | South Korea | 129 Minutes.

**** Out of 4

Tags: Water Torture, Student Protest, June Democracy Movment, Police Brutality, Government Cover Up, Tear Gas Canister, Running Shoes.

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