REVIEW | Hunt (2022)
Fans of conspiracy thrillers might find genuine delight in the South Korean film Hunt, helmed, co-written, and starred by Lee Jung-jae. Lee has been synonymous with all things Squid Game but here we see him expand his range off- and on-cam to deliver this twisty, espionage film.
Set during real-life events in South Korea in the 80s, Hunt seeds paranoia inside the Korean Central Intelligence Agency when North Korea had supposedly implanted a double agent so it could assassinate the President. Lee masterfully plays the messianic head of the KCIA foreign unit, while Jung Jung Woo-sung (Steel Rain, Cold Eyes) is his fantastic foil, Kim Jung-do, the decisive head of the domestic unit.
KCIA is torn apart by the hunt for Donglim, who’s deeply embedded in the agency. I might go into spoiler territory so let’s just say that not everything as it seems. Prepare to be shocked as Hunt turns into a whodunit mystery that does not even take a break when it reaches its epilogue.
Action choreography is superb and more grounded than in other thriller films. Hunt gives us a breather in cinemas saturated by CG-heavy flicks. While modern visual effects are still evident in the film, the stunts, gunfights, and a generous number of explosions will appease those looking for spectacular sequences.
Amid the intense action, Hunt is a smart film. Despite being produced by South Koreans, it does not serve as a propaganda vehicle but paints an unknowing anti-hero among their enemies. Figuratively, Hunt also shows the seemingly never-ending search for peace in the Korean Peninsula, where every inch of hope turns into despair.
Lately, Koreans have been releasing films and series set in the 80s with themes of how the two Koreas can work together. Hunt can be found on the same bookshelf as Escape from Mogadishu (2021) but might suffer in comparison when we talk of deep characterization and subtlety.
Hunt is now showing in Philippine cinemas.