Directed by Michihito Fujii, ‘Hard Days’ (Original title: Saigo made Iku) is a new Japanese action thriller film streaming on Netflix. It follows a police officer trying to run away from a hit-and-run accident, only to be pulled back in a series of unavoidable conflicts. The film shows his journey to free himself while also critiquing the greed and corruption prevalent in the police staff. It focuses on several existential themes that are relatable which is a result of the money-minded world we live in. The film stars Junichi Okada, Go Ayano, Ryoko Hirosue, Hayato Isomura, Tetta Sugimoto, and Akira Emoto in the central roles.

Spoilers ahead.

Hard Days (2023) Plot Summary & Movie Synopsis:

What is Hard Days on Netflix about?

The Japanese-language movie ‘Hard Days’ on Netflix follows Yuji Kudo (played by Junichi Okada) on the night of December 29. The film begins with Yuji driving his car to the hospital to see his severely ill mother. On the way, he receives a phone call from the station police chief, who asks him about his connection and involvement in creating a slush fund. His wife Misako (played by Ryoko Hirosue) also calls to tell him about his mother’s sudden death. So, with an overload of stress of trauma, he continues to drive his car. While still on call, he almost hits a girl crossing that largely empty road. While Yuji does not kill her, he ends up accidentally bumping his car into another person. 

Yuji takes a few moments to calm his senses and realize what he has gotten himself into. He notices the victim lying behind his car. In a state of panic, Yuji drags this guy’s body and puts it inside his car’s trunk. He plans to escape the hit-and-run charges and not face any repercussions. As if these problems are not enough, he is also drunk. So, when his car gets pulled over at the next checkpoint, he is worried that he might get caught. He tries to divert the attention of traffic police. But none of his intimidation techniques works. They also seem to have some past feud with Yuji. Right when they are about to open his car trunk, a senior officer shows up there. 

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Yuji & Yazaki’s encounter

The moment Officer Yazaki (played by Go Ayano) steps down from his car, the traffic police start showing him respect. Yazaki walks up to Yuji’s car and asks him about his situation. Yuji says he is in a hurry to go to the hospital to see his dead mother. So, Yazaki convinces the traffic cops to let Yuji go. Once at the hospital, Yuji needs to take care of his mother’s post-death procedures. While handling those responsibilities, he receives a call from his station. The officers get worried by Yazaki’s sudden visit. They believe Yazaki is going to bust their corrupt operations. 

Since Yazaki constantly asks to meet Yuji, they pressure him to come to the station. Yuji convinces the chief to let him come the following morning. Yazaki agrees to meet Yuji then and returns after a few hours. Since Yuji keeps avoiding them, his senior officers show up at the hospital parking lot. Before they reach it, Yuji manages to hide the body away from the trunk. But eventually, he comes to the station to meet Yazaki. Yazaki questions him about his past and threatens him to keep his mouth shut. The station officers feel relieved hearing that Yazaki is not investigating their slush funds. But Yuji gets worried about the dangers that await him. 

How does Yuji plan to take care of the guy he hit by his car?

At the hospital, Yuji realizes that his mother will be cremated. So, he decides to use this opportunity to cover up the death of the victim – Tsukuru Oda (played by Hayato Isomura), he hit by his car. Yuji decides to place Oda’s body in his mother’s casket. To do that, he enters the overhead vent with Oda’s dead body and crawls all the way to the room where the casket is kept. Along the way, he cannot avoid making at least some noise. A guard hears that and tries to find him. Yuji luckily saves himself from getting caught. But he falls down in the room, which creates more noise. The guard mistakes it for another room, which saves Yuji.

Eventually, Yuji places Oda’s body in his mother’s casket and quickly covers it. Soon after, the guys who are supposed to put dry ice in the casket arrive in the room. Yuji gets a hint of their movement and starts sobbing near his mother’s body – to show he is in great pain. He also uses it to cover up the sound of Oda’s phone’s ringtone. Then, he urges the ice servicemen to hand the ice over as per his mother’s last wish. He escapes, getting caught yet again. But there are other strings that pull him back to the chair of suspicion.

What do the police find about Oda’s disappearance?

A still from Hard Days (2023).
A still from Hard Days (2023).

At the station, the police learn about Oda’s disappearance. Since they are looking for this man, Oda starts panicking. He joins other officers as they visit a shed that he drove past the previous night. His colleagues plan to check the security footage available in the nearby camera. They pull up the footage to realize that a car probably hit Oda. But they cannot make up details of the car’s license plate because of the blurry image. Once they do, they realize that it is probably Yuji’s car.   

In the meantime, Yuji bumps his car into another car – so that it would get scrapped immediately. He does this to avoid the issues that may come with his damaged windshield. But somewhere along the way, he receives a text – where a person claims to know that he killed Oda. Yuji tries to avoid this person, to eventually realise that it is Yazaki. Yazaki beats Yuji to a pulp and later kidnaps his daughter. He uses it to blackmail Yuji to give Oda’s dead body. 

Why does Yazaki want Oda’s dead body?

There’s a history behind Yazaki’s corruption and his connection to Oda. Turns out, like Yuji, Yazaki was also serving his senior officer to hide their black money. He got married to this officer’s daughter. During the ceremony, he received a gift that required him to offer his fingerprints. These prints were crucial to opening the storage unit Yazaki used to hide the money. Oda gets hold of those prints and threatens to expose the cops. Under pressure from his father-in-law, Yazaki went up to Oda’s house to intimidate him. That’s where he found Oda’s girlfriend and tied her to a chair. 

By the night, Oda returned to see this in person. Yazaki tried to take care of the issue as his father-in-law expected. But matters go out of hand, and the couple starts running. The girlfriend reached the road when Yuji was passing by. Right after that, Yazaki shot Oda a couple of times. So, when Yuji reached the road, he was already dead. Yuji did not know this and ended up believing that he had caused the guy’s death. So, Yazaki and Yuji both were trying to escape the murder charges.

Hard Days (2023) ‘Netflix’ Movie Ending Explained:

Does Yuji Kudo get arrested for killing Oda?

To save his daughter, Yuji gets hold of Oda’s dead body and drives up to a lake to meet Yazaki. He hands it over, and Yazaki gives back his daughter. Yazaki tries to convince Yuji to get in on their corrupt circle. He tries to make Yuji accept how their usual salaries are immaterial at the end of the day – since they will never solely reach the levels to offer them a life of luxury. Yuji rejects this offer of easy cash and decides to head back with his daughter. Right when he is about to leave, Yazaki’s car suddenly blows up. 

Yuji leaves and heads to the storage unit filled with cash. Surprisingly, he crosses paths with Yazaki yet again and beats him to death. Then, he decides to lead a simpler life without these temptations. He also calls his wife to ask whether she would be okay with giving their relationship another chance. She agrees. Unfortunately, the fate is not on his side. While driving away from the scene, he notices Yazaki following him yet again. Whether this is truth or just Yuji’s imagination, it encapsulates his never-ending fear and paranoia. It shows how these deceitful crimes will keep following him for the rest of his life.

Read More: 10 Must-See Korean Dramas Premiering in December 2023

Hard Days (2023) ‘Netflix’ Movie Trailer

Hard Days (2023) Links: IMDb, Rotten Tomatoes
Cast: Junichi Okada, Go Ayano, Hayato Isomura, Ryoko Hirosue
Where to watch Hard Days

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