Hunt Movierulz: Lee Jung-Jae, star of Squid Game, presents at Cannes Hunt, a spy thriller that marks his directorial debut. After the success of Squid Game made him known to the world, Lee Jung-Jae decides to momentarily switch behind the camera.
The result is Hunt, his first film as a director presented at the Cannes Film Festival in the Midnight-Screening section. A work, as we will see in our review, with great commercial ambition and with an eye toward cinema and western markets.
Hunt rests his background in the complex context of the Korean peninsula. We are in the very early 80s, in South Korea, a recent coup d'état has brought about a change at the top of the country without however changing the authoritarian climate.
The suspicion of infiltration of North Korean spies among the internal forces of the country and of an imminent attack against the new president soon arises. In this context, the two protagonists move, senior security officials, who will have to find the infiltrator before the start of the new leader's Asian tour.
Soon the climate will turn into a witch hunt without borders, in which everyone is a suspect. The protagonists themselves, played by Lee Jung-Jae himself and the equally excellent Jung Woo-sung, cannot avoid investigating each other.
A subject that can recall le Carré's novels, especially Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy then transposed to the cinema by Tomas Alfredson and distributed in Italy with the title of La Talpa. A dark, tense spy thriller with a good amount of plot twists.
For the viewer dry of Korean history, however, there may be some difficulties in understanding some references. Apart from the issue relating to the change of regime, appropriately anticipated at the end of the opening credits, there will in fact be references to other previous events throughout the film.
For example, the Gwangju massacre will be mentioned (and shown in part), already the protagonist on the big screen by the handsome A Taxi Driver with Song Kang-ho. In the same way, some references to relations with North Korea, the United States, or the strong student movements repressed with violence could be unprepared.
Removing the historical, social, and political context, Lee Jung-Jae's is a film with a strongly Western imprint. Not only does the type of spy-thriller recall the European and American narratives set during the Cold War, but the whole staging evidently wants to refer to a cinema that is neither Asian nor South Korean.
Hunt is a fast-paced film with plenty of action scenes. A number of shootings and explosions for various reasons (very little circulation of weapons in the country) are unusual in South Korean works outside of war works.
In staging them, however, Lee Jung-Jae does not refer to Asian models such as John Woo or Johnnie To but takes more of the cinema of Michael Mann and the great Hollywood productions as a reference.
The result sometimes shows a lack of control from the director, especially in a somewhat confused and perhaps too pyrotechnic final showdown. Equally lacking a certain type of characterization of the protagonists, the whole erotic, introspective sphere disappears with the progress of the film.
The time dilation typical of that part of the world is deposited in the search for an increasingly dizzying rhythm and the next twist. In one thing, however, Hunt is perfectly inserted in Korean cinema of the last twenty years, namely in wanting to show signs of relaxation towards the North Korean people.
In wanting to consider the people of the peninsula as unique, divided by governments (South and North) and by external interference such as the United States. Ultimately we can certainly consider Hunt an excellent debut work, not perfect and very stylistically marked towards the pursuit of success on the western market.