Park has other problems besides would-be assassins. He’s constantly at odds with Domestic Unit chief Kim Jung-do (Jung Woo-sung), a character who seems suspicious from the get-go. The relationship between Park and Kim recalls the antagonistic friendship between Robert De Niro and Al Pacino in Michael Mann’s “Heat.” Like the characters in “Heat,” Park and Kim are diametrically opposed. And yet, they’re more alike than they may realize. But neither will hesitate to kill the other if need be.
I ate all of this up. Again: Hollywood used to make movies like this all the time, and it’s easy to see some American producer buying the rights to “Hunt” and trying to stage a big American remake. But if so, it will still be second-hand work. What I’m longing for are major American studios getting back to creating this sort of thing on their own. By all means, give me a big-budget thriller where actors stand around in shadowy rooms and shout at each other about political intrigue. Think “Night Moves,” or “The Hunt For Red October,” or Hitchcockian classics, or, again, “Heat.” I want more of this, damn it. To quote Pacino in “Heat,” “Gimme all ya got!”
Watching “Hunt,” I couldn’t help but think that if someone wanted to make this movie in Hollywood these days, they’d be turned down by every studio and would eventually have to adapt the entire thing into a bloated streaming show that would be forgotten after the weekend it premieres. I’m not saying we can’t enjoy it when foreign language films take up this cause — I just wish Hollywood could find a way to get back to this, too. Because it’s solid stuff, and it plays.
And what’s even better is the action. It’s here where Lee shows off his true directorial skills, staging several jaw-dropping action sequences, including loud, Michael Mann-like firefights in the streets, with guns blazing as cars slam into each other and characters look on, grim and determined. The plot may be needlessly complex, and the twists may grow exhausting, but gosh, “Hunt” packs in so much action and drama that I couldn’t help but enjoy it all — and wish Hollywood would take a hint.