TIFF ’22: Hunt

South Korean action star Lee Jung-jae makes his directorial debut with the brilliant action thriller, Hunt. Set in the 1980s when tensions were heightened between North and South Korea, the film is a white knuckle ride that sees two government rivals, KCIA Foreign Unit chief Park (Lee) and Domestic Unit head Kim (Jung Woo-sung) working to uncover a plot that has targeted the South Korean president for assassination.

Marrying action beats with political tension and spycraft, the two rivals, who share a troubled history work to uncover evidence that may incriminate the other, a problem that becomes more involving when information comes to light about a leak within the government, going by the codename, Donglim. Is it one of them? How much time do they have before the next attempt on the president?

Hunt has a tightly paced script, and Lee handles his directorial assignment with ease moving the film at a breakneck speed as the leads and the audience follows the evidence and the leads to an increasingly inevitable conclusion with the life of the president hanging on the line.

It’s a brutal, exciting, and well-crafted film that engages from the opening scene to the last, and delivers the goods. Lee knows what works in action films, and he uses everything he’s seen and learned over his career to tell his tale. From shootouts to dialogue, from torture to betrayals, it’s an exciting film that rockets along with a no holds barred manner of storytelling.

Filled with humourous moments, the performances and beats are top-notch as Lee brings to life a fraught period in Korean history mixing it brilliantly with action sequences and thrilling beats. It’s a great ride, and I can’t wait to see what Lee comes up with next.

Hunt screens Thursday the 15th at Roy Thomson Hall and on Friday the 16th and Sunday the 18th at Scotiabank Theatre.

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