‘Squid Game’ star Lee Jung-jae’s film Bloodbath ‘Hunt’ Rattles Cannes

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'Squid Game' star Lee Jung-jae's film Bloodbath 'Hunt' Rattles Cannes

hunt is – thrilling or disappointing, depending on your preferences – not a gritty, character-driven reboot of the Impossible Mission franchise, but a political thriller from South Korea, made by Squid Games Breakout star Lee Jung-jae makes his directorial debut. The fact that hunt is so clearly a debut, with all the messy, bumpy execution that implies, is partially offset by the film’s sheer energy and mind-boggling budget, helping to turn the whole exercise into a wham-bam-gun-and-blast – to transform romp.

At the beginning of hunt, a series of austere title cards, and hilariously broad exhibition scenes give us plenty of information about the political situation in which the film is set: namely, the height of military dictatorship in South Korea in the 1980s, as the country sought a path toward western growth. In these opening vignettes, the camera works busily, sifting through crowds, zooming back and forth and generally conveying a subtle sense of urgency as intelligence officers monitor a student demonstration that has the potential to turn violent – which it does. suddenly and almost parodically, catapulting the film into entirely different territory while then morphing into a straight-forward, essentially non-political shoot-’em-up. Here, where the violence is raised to eleven, Lee Jung-jae indulges in some big set pieces that clearly interest him more and have consequently been given more budget than all the stuff related to political intrigue. This pre-credits sequence sets the gauge for the film as a whole, which at times seems to lose track of its own intentions or become oddly bored with its own narrative beats before summoning up some energy for a crunchy fistfight on a set of stairs.

As for the story itself, Jung-jae, who directs one of two main roles himself, plays Park Pyong-ho, an intelligence officer whose investigation into the existence of a mole in his organization brings him into conflict with Kim Jung-do (Jung Woo-sung). , another spy boss. Park and Kim aren’t particularly well defined, with both actors bringing a stern, hard-nosed rigidity to their roles. Indeed, the enmity and then collaboration between these two unlikely cop figures is unflatteringly reminiscent of the grueling dynamic between Guy Pearce and Russell Crowe LA confidential: In this film, both characters are allowed to jostle, complement, and grow together—while they’re in it hunt, all the protagonists are offered is a series of hot-blooded encounters, a great cloud of dust in the corridors of power, and a final set piece where the world explodes around them. That’s all very well for delivering a chaotic action vehicle, but starts to fade a bit around the 80-minute mark when the movie still persistently but halfheartedly tries to hook you in an emotional subplot.

That’s all very well for delivering a chaotic action vehicle, but starts to fade a bit around the 80-minute mark when the movie still persistently but halfheartedly tries to hook you in an emotional subplot.

hunt tends to be happier in its action segments: a major shootout at a dry cleaning store; a minor shoot-out slash torture scene in the villains’ secret dig; a chase followed by a medium-sized gunfight; a violent shooting during an official visit by the President. Although the editing needs to be cleaned up and action movie clichés abound, Lee Jung-jae manages to summon up a verve that’s lacking elsewhere. This is visible in huntis pure bloodlust. Though the film’s struggles are somewhat stylized according to genre codes, we still get to hear the human costs of it: the gnarly shattering of bones, the soaking of blood on a shirt collar, the vicious stamp-stamp-stamp of a boot on a self rapidly changing face. There’s a surprising amount of machine guns in this film, as well as hand grenades, handguns, and various explosives, which translates into a really pretty iconic body count by the end of the film. Once in a while, hunt‘s violence (there’s plenty of torture too!) threatens to become parodic or caricatural: it’s at times reminiscent of the car chase mockup in that regard The Blues Brothers this goes on for so long that one of the protagonists starts to fall asleep. These gory approaches also detract from the plot of the film, from love and betrayal or whatever that never gets the slightest chance of hitting the mark.

Lee Jung-jae, who wrote the screenplay in addition to directing and performing, shows some promise in this film, which can be quite snappy from a formal point of view: atmospheric lighting, a refined score and a good eye for composition all help the show to keep it going even as the film nears its final conclusion with several insanely wrong finales. hunt scores when it shows focus rather than trying to do too much at once: this is the kind of tidying up that a wary-eyed producer can hopefully bring on board for the actor-director’s next venture. Perhaps the next one doesn’t need to take a country’s temperature, dissect manhood, deliver a twisted crime thriller and stage multiple bouts of violence, but could instead aim to simply offer some perfectly weightless murders that are unconcernedly unencumbered with meaning.

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