REVIEW: This might just be the perfect distraction for those impatiently awaiting news on the second season of Netflix’s South Korean mega-hit Squid Game.
A brutal and bloody, visceral and violent sci-fi-infused action movie that feels like the love child of Con Air and Predator (with bits of DNA from the Alien and Terminator series).
Debuting for rent on various Kiwi streaming services this week, Project Wolf Hunting is the brainchild of writer-director Kim Hongsun, whose previous genre movies include 2012’s Traffickers and 2014’s The Con Artists. He claims that not only does the body count total more than 50, but that he used more than 2.5 tonnes of “blood” during production. Watching the claret-soaked mayhem unfold over the course of two crazy hours, I can tell you those figures are very likely to be fairly accurate.
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The story opens in 2017, a year after the Philippines and Korea had made a vow to co-operate on police investigations. However, while the first flight of extradited criminals arrives safely back on Korean soil, the 180-strong police force are powerless to prevent an explosion that kills seven officers, injures 30 travelers and puts the whole agreement into question.
It’s five years before another attempt is even made – and this time the authorities are taking no chances. To avoid any potential civilian contact, the prisoners are being transported via cargo ship. With two “red notice” criminals amongst the manifesto, 20 detectives have been assigned to supervise the two-day trip, as well as a doctor and a nurse. As an extra precaution, Special Operations have taken over the Vessel Traffic Service Center at their destination – Busan.
After reading them their rights and charges and explaining the rules (inmates will receive two meals and a bathroom trip a day – and they’ll be given toothpaste, but not toothbrushes), the officers, much to their chagrin, settle in to prepare the first food trays of the voyage. Already tired – and on edge – they’re ill-equipped when the dangerous Jong Du (Seo In-guk) escapes his shackles using a little something he swallowed earlier.
Aided by others, he quickly makes short and gruesome work of the cops and crew, seizing control of the ship. Unfortunately for Jong Du, little does he know that the Frontier Wolf is carrying a cargo that’s even more deadly than he is – and it’s been disturbed by all the commotion.
It’s from that point that Project Wolf Hunting shifts gears and goes into full-on berserker mode. The claret flows freely, internal organs are put on display and limbs are contorted into impossible-looking angles. Despite a seemingly never-ending red river, the action sequences are well choreographed and provide plenty of excitement – and that’s despite the last figure to enter the fray best described as lumbering – at best.
“If this isn’t hell – I don’t know what is,” one character describes the nightmarish scenario at one point. For Korean action and horror fans though, this is heaven and even a clearly sequel-baiting last few minutes won’t dampen the delight of the proceeding maelstrom.
If anything, it will only leave you excited at the prospect of a potential second round.
In Korean with English subtitles, Project Wolf Hunting is now available to rent from AroVision, iTunes and GooglePlay and will be available from Neon from November 30.