Project Wolf Hunting
project wolf hunting | hongsun kim | seo in-guk | dong-yoon jang | jung so-min | monster | creature | creature feature | action | crime | sci-fi | south korea | gwi-haw choi | dong-il sung | park ho-san | chang-seok ko | jang young-nam | son jong-hak | lee sung-wook
Film: Project Wolf Hunting (Neugdaesanyang)
Director: Hongsun Kim
Writers: Hongsun Kim
Starring: Seo In-Guk, Dong-Yoon Jang and Jung So-Min
This is a movie that I heard about from a fellow podcast listener. They were asking if this would be considered a 2023 release or not. If so, they were high on it. I put it on a list of movies to check out for this year. I couldn't make it to the Gateway Film Center, so I decided to give this a watch. I’ve also given it a rewatch to see how I sat with this second go around.
Synopsis: follows dangerous criminals on a cargo ship who are transported from the Philippines to South Korea, as they unleash a sinister force after an escape attempt leads to a riot.
We start this learning about 47 criminals that fled from South Korea to the Philippines to avoid being prosecuted. The police forces in both locations worked together and they're now being extradited. Things don't go as planned when the victim of one of the criminals detonates a bomb, killing and injuring those at the airport.
It then shifts to 2022. They're trying to bring more of these criminals back to Korea. They've decided that secretly they're going to transport them on a sea freighter. We are hearing about it on the news, so we know there is a leak of information. I should state here that Korean detectives oversee maintaining order during the journey.
Another disclaimer is that there are a lot of characters and this moves at a fast pace. I believe that Lee Seok-woo (Park Ho-San) is the officer in charge. The worst criminal of the bunch is Park Jong-doo (Seo In-Guk). These two butt heads to the point where Seok-woo beats him while the others watch. Laws against police brutality seem to be suspended due to where they are and trying to keep them in line for the journey.
Everyone gets loaded onto this freighter and it seems like there is a good plan to get to Korea without issue. That's not the case though. The staff that helps prepare meals are planted here. There is a cache of weapons that are used to help free the prisoners. They then go about cutting off communication with the outside world and turning off the tracking equipment. We are reduced to a small group of detectives, including Seok-woo and Lee Da-yeon (Jung So-Min). We also have a couple of criminals that are helping them, not wanting to fall in line with the more vicious ones. Lee Do-il (Dong-Yoon Jang) is one who is a person of interest for Interpol.
There is something much worse on this voyage though. There is a doctor, Son Soo-cheol (Son Jong-hak), who has another job. He goes into the bowels of this vessel where there is a figure known as Alpha (Gwi-hwa Choi). He is given a sedative. Director Pyo (Ju-hwan Lim) knows more than he is letting on. There also seems to be someone higher up pulling the strings. When the riots happen, blood falls on to Alpha. With this monster awake, no one is safe.
That is where I'll leave my recap and attempt to introduce the characters. When you settle into this movie and get close to the action picking up, it doesn't matter. They are here for cannon fodder and body count. I'll just go ahead and get into the effects first. What we get is over the top by design. There is a lot of blood and violence. It looks good though. I’d say it is done practical from what I could see. If there was CGI, it worked seamlessly. I had a lot of fun watching these people get wrecked by criminals and then this monster of a man.
With that out of the way, let me get over to the story we get. The event that gets us on the freighter is good. I like that we have these criminals escaping to another country, only to have them get caught and extradited. I love movies set on a boat as it not only contains the story, but it also ramps up tension to not be able get away easily. I also like that we have our police officers, who are good pitted against the original villains who are the criminals. There are members of this group who are vicious. That is until we meet Alpha. It gets even crazier from there.
Then to break this down even farther. This is a mash-up film at the heart. We have elements of a crime/action movie. Just having these criminals rioting on this ship and a small group of detectives fighting back works. We then mix mad scientist/sci-fi with Alpha. You could even look at this like 'what-if' with a Michael Myers/Jason Voorhees killer in an action movie. Surprisingly, I think this works well. My only problem comes with the sci-fi stuff as I don't necessarily like larger implications or reveals with other characters. That feels forced and it isn't as shocking as they want it to be. It almost makes it like trying to prep for sequels that would make it feel borderline superhero.
Now part of this could be the length. For the most part, I don't feel the runtime. This runs over two hours long. What is interesting is that I'd say about the half hour mark is when the criminals riot. When we get to an hour, that’s when Alpha wakes up. I was wondering where they would go with it. I do like going into the past to give more background about the experiment. That should be kept in. I just think that 15 minutes could be trimmed for this to run tighter. I will just finish with the filmmaking. The cinematography is good with the framing and how it is shot. I think that helps make the effects look better. Other than that, the soundtrack worked for what was needed. I love the sound effects to help confirm that Alpha is the monster that he is.
All that is left is the acting. I think that everyone fits their characters and what is needed for them. In-Guk is good as our main villain. I love the tattooed look for him as he just looks menacing. It also seems like they do something with his eyes to look more menacing. With how vicious he is, he’s one of the best characters here. Jang is solid as this brooding criminal who isn’t as bad. His character is layered and that gets updated as we go. So-Min, Ho-San and the rest of the detectives are good. Choi is great as our overpowered monster. Other than that, I’d say that the criminals might be a bit too much of caricatures, but I don’t mind it. There isn’t a bad performance here.
In conclusion, I’m glad that I took the recommendation to give this a watch. This is a mash-up of different movies. Not all of it works and it runs a bit too long. That isn’t to say that this isn’t fun. The blood and violence goes over the top, but that works. The acting is good across the board. I’d also say that this is a well-made movie. Trimming back a bit of the extra elements and condensing the runtime I think would help here. With that we get, I’d recommend this if you like action horror films. Be warned that this is from South Korea, so I watched it with subtitles on.
My Rating: 8 out of 10