Director Kim Seong-hun's film "A Hard Day" was invited to the Directors' Fortnight at this year's Cannes International Film Festival, which kicked off on May 14.
The out-of-competition section focuses on work with commercial potential.
The Hollywood Reporter called the film "essentially a genre thriller, but a superior example loaded with smart plot twists, dark humor and high-gloss visuals."
But even without those accolades "A Hard Day" is likely to be remembered as one of the outstanding commercial films in Korea this year.
The film follows a villain through a particularly unlucky day. No movement or word is wasted as the machine rattles through its highly satisfying motions.
"If a film is too serious, it makes the audience uncomfortable. If it's too comic, then it compromises suspense and reality. Laughter sustains the plot in a tragedy," the director said.
"A Hard Day" is Kim's second film and his first in seven years. His debut, "How the Lack of Love Affects Two Men" (2006), was slammed by critics and only managed to attract 600,000 viewers.
"It was so embarrassing to realize that was all I could do," Kim says. "I started 'A Hard Day' with the firm resolve to give myself one more try before I die. I got rid of all the nonsense and tried to capture what I think is funny in an honest, candid way."
"Although the reviews from critics and film festivals are important, my ultimate goal is to make the audience happy."