Hard Days Review – An exciting and fast-paced thriller

By Lori Meek
Published: November 30, 2023
Hard Days Review
Hard Days Key Art | Image via Netflix


The movie offers almost two hours of fast-paced action. Neither the characters nor the audience get a chance to catch their breath before the movie throws in more suspense. 

It seems every other new release is either a remake or a sequel (or a prequel), and the Japanese thriller Hard Days is no different. Not only is this Netflix movie a remake of the 2014 South Korean thriller A Hard Day, but it’s the fourth international adaptation of the original. 

The film was written and directed by Michihito Fujii, and it follows a corrupt detective as he goes to extreme lengths to cover up an accident he’s responsible for. He unwittingly sets himself up against a fellow officer and becomes involved in a plot to steal billions in laundered money. 

Hard Days review and plot summary

When we first meet Detective Yuji Kudo (Junichi Okada) he’s already having a pretty terrible night. Not only is his Police Chief about to throw him under the bus for taking bribes from the Yakuza, but his sick mother passed away while he was on his way to visit her in hospital. In shock from the news of his mother’s death, Yuji accidentally runs a man over. 

Desperate and slightly inebriated, Yuji does something no one in his situation would – he takes the victim with him. He just about escapes a group of traffic cops determined to search his car. 

As he already has a lot on his plate, including an upcoming divorce, a pending internal affairs investigation led by the mysterious Yakazi (Gô Ayano), and his mother’s passing, Yuji decides to deal with the dead body in his trunk by hiding it in his mom’s coffin. Her remains are scheduled for cremation, meaning all evidence of Yuji’s misdeed would quite literally go up in flames. 

Just when Yuji thinks he got away with murder, he receives a text message from someone who knows exactly what he’s been up to the previous night. The corrupt internal affairs officer Yakazi knows what Yuji did and is willing to go to any lengths to retrieve the deceased’s body, even threatening the detective’s young daughter. 

As someone who hasn’t seen the original Korean version, I started streaming Hard Days without knowing what to expect. The movie offers nearly two hours of non-stop edge-of-your-seat action where you never know what’s going to happen next. 

Keeping the intensity high is one way of ensuring viewers don’t notice the logical flaws in the plot. With a narrative as convoluted as this one, it’s easier to suspend your disbelief and enjoy the non-stop action. There are certain parts (such as the lead’s decision to hide a body inside his mother’s coffin) that lack the comedic timing you’d expect with such an unbelievable plan. 

Why you should stream Hard Days on Netflix

The performances are hard to fault. Okada is convincing as the highly unlikable detective whose own selfishness throws him into increasingly more difficult-to-manage situations. And Ayano is excellent as the seemingly calm yet psychopathic Yakazi, whose true feelings are only betrayed by an occasional facial twitch. 

While not perfect, Hard Days is a worthwhile thriller that will keep you at the edge of your seat for the entire runtime. It’s hard to predict how the story will end, especially as the movie constantly throws spanners and new bits of information into the mix, leaving you second-guessing until the final credits. 

What did you think of Hard Days? Comment below.

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