Film Review – Hunt(헌트, 2022)

Over the years Korean cinema has shown it’s expertise in social and noir dramas. It also knows how to take thrillers to another level like in espionage thriller Hunt. The Hollywood machine might be more interested superhero films, the Koreans showcase their expertise in thrillers that are action packed and frenetic.

The film marks directorial feature debut for Lee Jung-Jae. Korean cinema aficionados will know him for several films. Internationally he will be know for his award winning lead role in Netflix’s Squid Game . Now he will become even more of a global star as he has been announced in the cast of The Star Wars spin-off The Acolyte coming to Disney Plus.

In Hunt (헌트), trust no one. The film takes us back to the cold war days of 1980’s South Korea, kicking off in 1983 and Washington D.C. An assassination attempt on the South Korean President is stopped. Chaos runs throughout the regime and the National Security, protests increase in the streets. There is also a North Korean spy hiding in the ranks of the Korean Central Intelligence Agency (KCIA). The two agents Pyong-ho (Lee Jung-jae) and Jung-do (Jung Woo-sung) attempt to find and capture that spy.

They learn the spy’s name is Donglim who is embedded deep in the agency . Paranoia and suspicion runs wild throughout Pyong-ho and Jung-do’s departments. When they are ordered to investigate each other’s departments after secret missions go wrong. Who is this mole? Both men try to out do each other to find the elusive Donglim, leading them to shocking revelations.

I may not be an expert on South Korean politics, what I do know they where a dictatorship. Depending who you talk to some considered the regime worse than the North Korean regime. Whilst the film’s main focus is on the Spy versus Spy, we are teased on the hostilities with the population. A scene early on student protests see the police beat the students to a pulp. Then torturing them sometimes to death with the agents enjoying every moment.

Running time is just over two hours, Jung-Jae’s debut is impressive. It’s not without it’s faults either with the narrative being a little confusing even convoluted. The film did play part of this year’s Cannes Director’s week, from here it seems from the reviews things have been tweaked. The heart of his film is the politics and the in house fighting and greed for power amongst the corruption.

Hunt plays like two different type of films: The Tinker, Tailor, Soldier Spy antics to find the mole. In between the unexpected twists and turns, the action is wild, frenetic ,explosive, visceral and most off all entertaining. Leave your brain at the box office and enjoy the ride!

★★★★

Thriller,Drama, Action | South Korea, 2022 | 15 | 4th November 2022 (UK) | Cinema | Altitude Films | Dir.Lee Jung-jae | Jung Woo-sung, Lee Jung-jae, Heo Sung-tae, Hye-Jin Jeon, Man-sik Jeong,

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