It’s always interesting to see what an artist, already recognized in his country of origin, does following an international success. Lee Jung-jae just made history with his SAG and Emmy wins for his lead role in squid game. Last week he was announced as the star of the upcoming Star Wars TV series The Acolyte. It’s more than fair to say he’s hot right now. This makes his directorial debut, Huntwhich he also wrote and performed, all the more exciting.
The now world-famous actor plays the role of head of the foreign unit of the KCIA, South Korea’s Central Intelligence Agency. It’s the 1980s and a time of deep turmoil and an assassination attempt in the United States. Back home, he comes face to face with the head of the domestic unit (played by Jung-jae’s friend and frequent collaborator, Jung Woo-sung), both tasked with uncovering the identity of a Northeast spy. Korean…
The pair viciously investigate each other’s teams before turning on each other, suspecting their rival might be the traitor they seek.
Huntwhich premiered at Cannes and already released in South Korea, kicks off very strong, with a chase scene in its opening minutes, and it doesn’t stop from there.
The film features a constant plot and several twists along the way, making it difficult to know who to trust and what their endgames are. It is also worth noting the reasons why those who actively conspire against their country do so, in some cases because they believe in the idyllic idea of reconciliation, that somehow two countries long in war will be reunited peacefully, though many must die along the way.
Jung-jae proves to be a skilled mainstream director, listening to what audiences want to see and making sure every moment of this film is focused and gripping. Anyone who thinks it will be more squid game is a serious surprise because it couldn’t be more different, even if it contains a lot of violence. It’s good to know that Jung-jae has a bright global future ahead of his career, but I hope starring in big-budget English hit productions won’t stop him from making more films like this, because he is talented both in front of and behind the camera. B+
Hunt is thrown into the Category Gala Presentations at TIFF and will be released in December in the United States via Magnolia Pictures.