We live in very strange times. One of the things that I enjoyed the most as someone who loves movies, is going to the cinema. But because of the Corona virus most theatres have been closed for a while now, and big movies such as for instance Black Widow and Tenant have been put on hold. Which seems to lead to a whole new trend: instead of releasing things on the big screen, we now get films that are moving straight to the small screen. One example is Disney’s Mulan that later this year will make an appearance on the Disney Plus streaming service. However, you do have to pay 30 dollars to see that one. Now, short of some special edition dvd’s I own, I never payed that amount of money to watch a single film. I’m not going to start doing that anytime soon either. The movie I’m about to review was also due to be released in theatres. It first premiered at the Berlin Film Festival in February , the first ever South Korean movie to have that honor. Lucky for us, Netflix picked this one up when it became known that it’s theatrical release was postponed indefinitely. And yes I do mean lucky, because it’s been quite a while since I’ve been this much on the edge of my seat while watching a movie.
Time to hunt is set in the near future in a dystopian South Korea. The country is in a huge financial crisis, and life inside the cities is brutal and harsh. We meet up with Jun Seok who has just been released from prison after he and his friends pulled of a heist which didn’t go exactly as planned. Even worse, because of the debt the country has amassed the Korean won has crashed massively, making their haul all but worthless. One night when Jun Seok is hanging out with his two best friends Jang-ho and Ki-hoon in an illegal gambling house, a desperate plan starts to take form in his mind. With things being as bleak as they are, he sets his mind on leaving the country with his friends, and for that they need money. And what better way to get that money by pulling of one last heist. Their target? The illegal gambling house, which has a safe with huge amount of US dollars. After acquiring some much needed fire power from a friend Jun Seok met in prison called Bong Sik, it’s time to move forward with the plan. But the owners of the gambling house don’t take to kindly to getting things stolen from them. It’s not before long when an expert contract killer named Han is set upon the trail of the desperate trio. It’s time to hunt……
I knew very little about this film when I came across it on Netflix. I started this two hour plus movie about an hour before my usual bedtime thinking I would watch the first half, and then finish it the next day. It didn’t turn out that way, as I got so enraptured by this movie, that sleep was pretty much the last thing on my mind. When this film first starts you have no real idea where this is going to go. You see a world that looks very much like our own, but at the same time things are slightly off. When overhead newscasts start talking about how the country is in a huge financial crisis, and you see the rundown streets of the city, you begin to realise this takes place in the future. However, this isn’t a science fiction film. So for those of you who might have signed off already reading the word future, you can rest easy. What we do have here though is an intense action thriller, with very memorable and often nailbiting scenes, that will often leave you gasping for air. The entire cast in this film is absolutely amazing, and makes it an even more worthwhile experience. At first you feel no real sympathy for the trio of friends. They are criminals after all, and especially during some early scenes you begin to feel a slight hatred for these youngsters.
But that all changes very quickly when the psychopathic killer enters the scene, and starts his pursuit. If I were to make a comparison to another film, I would say this movie reminded me quite often of the first Terminator. The chilling aspects of a seemingly unstoppable foe, and the way this killer chases after his young prey, one could almost see Arnold Schwarzenegger in his iconic role. Jun Seok, played by actor Lee Jehoon, is a truly tragic character. What he first thinks of as an easy plan to make a quick buck, quickly backfires and when his own and his friend’s lives are on the line he tries to make a stand as best he can. He of course also feels a horrible responsibility, as the heist was his plan to begin with, and he just convinced the others to go along with him. Ki-hoon is played by Woo-sik Choi, who some people might remember from the phenomenal Train to Busan. His character is probably the most kindhearted of the three, as he truly cares for his two parents, who think of him as an amazing son. The last of the criminals, the dullwitted Jang-ho is portrayed by Jae-hong Ahn. I think out of all three, this is the one you feel sorry for the most. He truly is in way over his head, and someone who simply isn’t cut out for the criminal life to begin with.
But let’s not forget the killer himself, played by Hae-soo Park. While he supposedly is a professional hitman, it would be more accurate to call him a completely deranged serial killer. He enjoys the hunt, and seems to totally get off on it. He’s a chilling character that you can’t help but become frightened of. Another high note is the incredible cinematography this film has. The action is shot in a very stylised, but also often pretty creepy way that at times feels like a horror film. So with all these positive notes, are there are any negatives? Well, the film starts off a bit slow and even strangely. It’s almost as if it was trying to seek out it’s own identity. However that doesn’t last very long, and you quickly forget about it once the action and thriller aspects of the film start for real. Time to hunt is simply put an amazing movie, and anyone who likes tense thrillers, mixed with some great action sequences is sure to get a kick out of this one. I for one could not stop watching this and once the credits start rolling you almost can’t believe that it’s two hour runtime flew by so quickly. So, go out and hunt this down on Netflix. Hey….you all knew that pun was coming right? Thanks for reading, see you at the next post!
I give Time to Hunt a 9 out of 10 score.