‘Hard Hit’ Ending, Explained: Who Planted The Bomb In Mr. Lee’s Car? & Why?


In ‘Hard Hit,’ South Korean director Kim Chang-ju narratively explores the fact that all words and actions have consequences. It is only after a “hard hit” that we realize their repercussions, and if we are conscious enough, we try to make amends in the best way possible. The story follows the journey of a well-established man who is proud of his wealth, but his dark past soon tracks him down, only to make him realize that material wealth can never outweigh human connections and emotions.

‘Hard Hit’ is a remake of the 2015 Spanish film, Retribution, directed by Dani de la Torre. The thrill and car chase sequences depicted in the film also may remind the viewers of the 1994 action thriller film, Speed. Jo Woo-jin has done a commendable job as the lead actor. However, the film falls short of a meaty plot, and most of the story unfolds in the last 15 minutes or so. It is often a crucial element in thriller narratives where they try to hide crucial information. But, in ‘Hard Hit’, the repetition of facts sometimes causes dullness in action.

‘Hard Hit’ Plot Summary

Lee Seong-gyu (Jo Woo-jin) is a wealthy middle-aged man who works as a center manager at Busan’s private Bareun Bank. He is an investment consultant as well, who often advises his clients to make safe investments that may earn them a hefty return. However, in his zeal to procure the riches of the world, Lee often forgets to spend time with his family, which has made him an estranged father. Due to the same fact, his relationship with his wife isn’t on good terms either.

The film begins as Mr. Lee decides to drop off his teenage daughter, Hye-in, and his young son, Min-joon, to school. While the kids get settled in the car, Mr. Lee reminds his son about an autographed soccer ball. The particular dialogue suggests the fact that Mr. Lee weighs materialistic accomplishment more than spending time with his own family and, from time to time, brings expensive gifts for his kids, believing it will fill the gap in his absence. However, Min-joon pays no heed to the soccer ball, and Mr. Lee starts the car without further ado.

Soon, Mr. Lee finds an unknown mobile phone ringing in his car’s glove compartment. He gets a call from a private number with no caller id. In confusion, Mr. Lee picks up the call, and a person named Jin-woo informs him that there is a pressure-sensitive bomb planted under his seat that will explode if he tries to leave the car. The bomber also warns Mr. Lee that he will detonate the bomb if his kids try to leave the car as well. In exchange for their lives, the unknown caller demands a ransom payment that he raises to more than $4 million as the story unfolds.

Who Planted The Bomb? & Why?

The unknown caller, Jin-woo, had not only planted the bomb in Lee’s car but also targeted his deputy manager. Hence, the stance established that the motive for revenge was connected with the private bank and its employees.

Finally, Jin-woo revealed his motive when police surrounded Mr. Lee’s car and demanded answers from the caller. He was taking revenge on Mr. Lee and his private bank, Bareun Bank. Six years ago, the bank and its employers, especially Mr. Lee, adopted deceptive sales practices and sold shares of Jangho chemicals to investors, claiming that these shares were risk-free. However, due to an unstable market, many investors suffered a huge loss, among which was Jin-woo’s pregnant wife, Eun-young.

Mr. Lee got rid of the evidence, and his seniors gave him a promotion for concealing their fraudulent practices. However, Eun-young had invested all her hard-earned money in the shares, and her livelihood depended on the factory. Thus, she pleaded with Mr. Lee in the car parking lot to give her some advice so that she could at least recover the principal amount. Consciously, Lee always knew that he had committed a crime, which was established from the first scene itself when a police siren from his son’s toy gun shocked him to the core. Mr. Lee, despite having self-awareness, never dared to help the victims because his desire for wealth blinded him.

After the incident, Jin-woo and Eun-young filed a lawsuit against Bareun Bank, but to file the case, they had to take a loan from another bank and thus were caught in a cycle of financial debt. Jin-woo told Lee that his baby boy died even before he was born, along with his mother, who probably suffered a stroke or killed herself after Mr. Lee refused to help her in her financial crisis. Finally, Lee confessed that he always knew that the shares of Jangho Chemicals were a risky investment, yet he sold them to earn a hefty profit for his bank. But in the aftermath, many people died because they trusted Mr. Lee and his advice, and now he had to face the wrath of Jin-woo, who had sworn to take revenge for his lost family.

‘Hard Hit’ Ending Explained

In the end, Mr. Lee pleaded with Jin-woo to let him go and promised he would do everything in his power to get things right. But Jin-woo, who lost a family, knew that nothing could ever become right, and thus he refused to forgive Lee. Jin-woo decided to give up his life as well, and he forced Lee to drive the car into the river if he wanted to save his daughter’s life.

The car drowned in the river before the bomb could explode. However, Lee survived the explosion and was saved by the police, who arrived at the scene at the crucial moment. Mr. Lee tried to save Jin-woo’s life too, but he failed to save him.

The whole incident brought about a change in Mr. Lee’s character. He decided to become a witness against his private bank and fight for those who were cheated by the corporates. Though Mr. Lee had destroyed all the evidence against the private bank, his personal testimony would still be viable in the court of law. Lee’s senior, the vice president of the bank, tried to warn Lee and threaten him, but Lee had already made up his mind. He disconnected the call, which clearly suggested that he wouldn’t until he had brought justice to the innocent people. Lee can’t go back in time and rectify his actions, but he still has a choice in the present and future that will probably decide the fate of his character.

‘Hard Hit’ is a 2021 Drama Thriller film directed by Kim Chang-ju.

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Shikhar Agrawal
Shikhar Agrawal
I am an Onstage Dramatist and a Screenwriter. I have been working in the Indian Film Industry for the past 12 years, writing dialogues for various films and television shows.

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