Hunt Review

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Lee Jung-jae, the actor for Squid Game, has made his directorial debut in a Korean film called Hunt where he also plays a spy. Moreover, Lee is an experienced performer who began to act in the mid 1990s and now tries his hand on directing. Thus, one can expect that beneath the layer of obviousness there lies an ‘80s-style blend of conspiracy with dramatic investigations and explosive actions that at times get lost within its webbed lies but always fluidly negotiates even its murkier transitions. Since it rarely feels like a beginner’s attempt, Jung-jae deserves credit for effectively handling two roles here.

Taking place between National Security Planning during the 1980s, this story follows two high-ranking officers from Korean Central Intelligence Agency (KCIA) — Pyong-ho (Lee Jung-jae) and Jung-do (Jung Woo-sung) — hunting down a mole of North Korea. While Pyong-ho is responsible for foreign intelligence functions, his colleague heads national department; hence jealousy arises among them. As they both search for their own snitch “Donglim”, each begins suspecting another man. Therefore, above all others as regards violating lawfulness as though it were evergreen throughout thus must be walked upon cautiously amidst South and North Korean animosities that stage political murders making KCIA destabilized. Pyong-ho and Jung-do should stop Donglim even if only just by burning down entire KCIA.

Jung-jae does not rely solely on recorded statements, evidence analysis or field agents running after leads in Hunt—his action set-pieces are heavy-handed. A couple of throwaway shootouts or punches do not amount to anything compared to high impact car crashes or big explosions in their grand spectacle form Kong: Skull Island should be mentioned here too). Also; electrifying jolts are sent through Hunt through these elements that Jung-jae uses to make torturous interrogations accompanied by siege of assault rifles more forceful. It is clear from this that the film director understands how significant momentum as well as intensity are in a movie – it isn’t just about secret documents and paper trails alone.

However, Jo Seung-Hee and Jung-do loses control over their film’s twisted mosaic of lies. Moreover, Hunt never pauses for breath throughout even though I praised its relentless push forward like Pyong-ho exposing his corrupt superiors or Jung-do kidnapping innocents in an attempt to break suspects’ wills. Thus, the entire mission was always on the move; hence everybody moved faster than Hunt did but didn’t feel it when they attempted to do such things. Having said that, many plot twists come one after another like players piled on each other upon scoring a touchdown during the crucial moments of the film making it hard for any coherent linearity to develop in the storyline itself (Touchdown celebration dog pile). Not only does he ensure Hunt is perpetually moving forward with countless bodies strewn across its path, rubble and collateral damage but also creates a contrast between spectacular aspects and equally compelling narrative filled with objective swerves, planted diversions and shocking reveals.

The ensemble of actors involved in Hunt piles attitude high starting with Jung-jae and Woo-sung. They do not stop competing against one another either verbally or through physical fights whenever they meet. Consequently, both actors bring about their national calamities into their roles since so much depends on them at times when political situations in North and South Korea threaten to explode into violent conflicts for nothing. It’s like throwing gas on fire because you know what happens if you let people think about something too deeply before they should really start considering whom they may have missed out during meaning-seeking process: an idea Gemini Man (2019) can attest to). Such nuances fix some problems mentioned above and thus, the film Hunt moves about with a jazz-like rhythm that may never stop but still looks good in its own way.

Hunt is a great start to Lee Jung-jae’s directorial career. It is a political thriller that focuses on the internal politics in the South Korean government and that sense of urgency keeps it boiling under. The film always appears to be more than what Jung-Jae can handle resulting in him not being able to guide it well as portrayed by a bungled pot boiling over too often, however, this does not stop the actors from giving their best performance in their attempts at conveying various conspiratorial elements that drive the movie forward. They did a good job; nevertheless, much time was wasted through two hours and an additional runtime of something like 2 hours plus since nothing worked out well enough between fireworks of action and ground moles or outing them but it doesn’t go far to break Hunt beyond any kind of repair.

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