It is the 1980s and The President of South Korea has just had an assassination attempt made on his life. He survived thankfully, but now the KCIA is fiendishly trying to figure out how this could have happened. To make matters worse, somebody codenamed Donglim has apparently been feeding South Korean secrets to the North. Now it is up to Foreign Unit Chief Park Pyong-ho (Emmy-winning Squid Game Actor Lee Jung-jae, also HUNT’s Director and Co-Writer) and Domestic Unit Head Kim Jung-do (Jung Woo-sung, also at the Festival with his directorial debut, A Man of Reason) to smoke-out the rat.
For a feature Directorial debut, HUNT is slick and pulse-pounding. It kicks-off with an elaborate action sequence and foot chase before evolving into a cat and mouse espionage thriller that was constantly reminding me of Infernal Affairs (and its Best Picture Oscar-winning American remake, The Departed). And while Lee and his behind the scenes team manage to inject a number of additional wild and brutal action scenes (and gratuitous torture scenes) peppered throughout the running time, his Script written alongside Jo Seung-hee suffers from a complete lack of narrative coherency. Characters are introduced and then killed-off just as quickly. The few that manage to stay breathing slightly longer have muddled loyalties, and end up double, triple and quadruple crossing each other multiple times. It is a challenge to keep up with it all and I will readily admit that HUNT may benefit immensely from a second watch – one where you can hopefully pause and write everything happening out on a whiteboard.
All of that said, Lee and Jung are both compelling leads who do incredibly well at antagonizing the hell out of each other and the people around them. They each get plenty of time to shine and are crucial elements to the crazy action scenes. The charisma and presence both actors bring to the screen is captivating, and one of the key reasons why I stuck around watching right up until the end. Neither is well characterized, but they do not have to be. They just have to be along for the ride, and well, mission accomplished.
We’ve made it to the finish! What a Festival this was! We’re still reeling literally from all the excitement, and have really been doing as much as we can before the curtain drops Sunday. Though I love the stars so much, I love cozying-up with a Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Latte in a dark theatre and just escaping with the Movies. The Team and I have shared our thoughts on everything we saw at the Festival hereand there are a few more Reviews coming.
By the way, we will soon be drawing our $25 Starbucks Canada Gift Card winners! More below and a few chances across our Social channels.
We were so delighted finally to get to participate in a Press Line. Believe me, we’ve been putting-in our requests but with so many outlets being here earlier in the Festival, it didn’t leave a lot of room for smaller outlets like ours to get on. Either way, we get it and made our moments happen either way! We adore SQUID GAME and can’t wait for Season Two. Such an honour chatting with star-turned-Director Lee Jung-jae and also Korean Action Star Jung Woo-sung.HUNT is an Action-Thriller which has Lee starring as Park, a Central Intelligence Chief uncovering a plot assassinate the South Korean President, but learns there also is a mole in the agency.
Leetells us this actually isn’t his first time in Toronto – he actually came here about ten years back. We ask him about one important lesson he took away from the character he crafted in this Film, Park.
Lee: I didn’t learn much from the character because I wrote, directed and acted it myself. What I learned from this experience is working harmoniously with the other Actors and trying to communicate well with the staff.
We also ask Jung to tell us a bit about his character Kim and what he took away from the experience.
Jung: This is a character based on actual historical events that took place. When I created the character, I reflected on the victims of the incident and the perpetrators, and the ethical issues. I was able to reflect on these things.