Film Reviews

Project Wolf Hunting – Film Review

Contains light spoilers.

If there was one word I had to pick for Project Wolf Hunting, the latest science fiction/action epic from director Kim Hong-seon, it would be ‘blood-bath’. It’s ironic that the movie takes place on a ship, as by the end there’s more blood pooling in the rooms and halls than we actually see water surrounding the vessel. So if blood, guts, dismemberment, and ultra-violence aren’t your cup of tea, then you should probably best avoid it, but if you’re up for some wild action you should definitely put this movie on your radar.

Project Wolf Hunting begins simply enough, with the transfer of a huge number of some of the most dangerous criminals in custody between the Philippines and South Korea. However, when a family member of one of their victims blows themselves up at the airport, killing several others, the authorities decide on a new plan to get the criminals out of the country. Thus, thirty-plus of the worst murderers, rapists, and violent offenders are loaded onto a huge cargo container vessel and transported via sea.

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However, the crew has been infiltrated by members of the criminal empire of prisoner Jong-doo (Soe In-guk), and plan to take over the ship in the bloodiest way possible. As the prisoners break out of their shackles, and the cops are forced to fight for their lives, it seems like this might not be too different from a mash-up between Con-Air and Under Siege. However, when a super-soldier-like creature is unleashed from deep within the ship, everyone becomes a target, as it stalks the halls, mercilessly tearing apart anyone it finds.

Much like when watching the trailer for Project Wolf Hunting, the film has a moment of tonal whiplash. You’re buying into the concept of the prisoner transport, the escape attempt, the fight between criminals and police, and then a scary zombie man who sees via Predator vision shows up and you’re reminded that this is a sci-fi movie too. Having somewhat forgotten the trailer when first watching the film, it did take me by surprise when the creature was introduced, and when he finally broke free from his confines and entered the already ultra-violent story I was genuinely shocked by how much more brutal the film became.

The film doesn’t shy away from its action, and you’re not going to find a movie where characters trade blows that seem to not do much, or get grazed by bullets as they rush at their foes. Every hit, every knife cut, and every gunshot in Project Wolf Hunting feels visceral. When the criminals descend on the cops and the ship crew, a single blow around the head with the butt of a gun results in a shattered skull, a spray of blood, and the person hitting the floor.

The follow-up hits seem like overkill, as you’re already pretty sure the victim is dead, but the bad guys continue to shatter the head to pieces just to make sure. Action films have a tendency to make people feel invincible, able to shrug off wounds that would seriously injure or kill; Project Wolf Hunting goes the opposite way, and everyone is a walking bag of blood and guts waiting for the slightest blow to explode over everything.

The film also plays with conventions when it comes to its characters. There were a number of times when watching the film that I found myself expecting it to fall into familiar patterns and tropes. I thought that once the monster was loose on the ship the cops and the bad guys would have to work together; I thought that certain characters would make it close to the end, if not survive the entire thing, based upon how other films would treat those kinds of characters. But the film is willing to kill anyone, is prepared to get you to like a character, to root for their survival, before killing them brutally. My best piece of advice for going into the movie is do not get attached to anyone.

Whilst the action and gore are very much in your face, the plot can sometimes take a bit of a back seat, and there are elements of the story that don’t absolutely make sense or work, and there are a couple of times that scenes get interrupted with flashbacks because the characters aren’t going to tell us in the moment why things are happening, so the film has to do it for us. Some viewers might not enjoy the lack of detailed explanations, but for those looking for extreme action and something that will have them yelling ‘What?!’ at their screen that’s not going to be an issue.

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Project Wolf Hunting is a wild, ballsy mashing of different genres that barely work, yet thanks to some extreme and shocking action, some ridiculous moments, and some great performances, it ends up being a really enjoyable movie. If you can’t go into this unaware of the weirdness the film contains, at least try to make sure anyone you’re watching it with doesn’t know. That way you can watch their jaw fall open when the monster bursts onto screen.

Project Wolf Hunting is currently streaming on the Icon Film Channel, and will be released in selected cinemas from 10th March. You can own it on Blu-ray, DVD and Digital from 10th April.

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