When you have been a fan of horror and action cinema for a long time, it’s easy to get jaded and dare I say, desensitised. You live for those moments where you can’t believe the film is doing what it is. Be it heads crushed underfoot, power shower level geysers of blood, or a man having his arm removed and then being beaten to death with it (!), Project Wolf Hunting – the new film by Hongsun Kim (Traffickers) – has those in spades.
The set-up is deceptively convoluted. A large group of prisoners are being extradited from the Philippines to Korea. The prisoners include Seo In-Guk, who here looks like a K-pop star who got covered in ink. The previous attempt to move them resulted in a bombing, so they are moving them via a cargo ship. Suffice to say things don’t go to plan. Via a mutiny and picks concealed on the prisoner’s person they escape, resulting in extreme bloodshed as they kill the cops on board and knock out the lines of communication. If things aren’t already bad enough there is a genetically engineered monster that is being kept in the engine room. When it is released all hell breaks loose, causing crooks and cops to work together against a mutual enemy.
One of the tricks of the film is the ability to pull off this genre switch. What’s more surprising is when the film changes focus a second time! It may be hard to keep up with the various back stories of the characters (especially when the film is not afraid to spend a large amount of time with characters before unceremoniously bumping them off) but the film does it with such panache and bloodshed it’s hard to care.
And what bloodshed! The film’s maximalist commitment to gore brings to mind the Category 3 classic Riki-Oh (or the story of Riki). Is it necessary for there to be so much blood every time someone is stabbed in the neck? No. But the film goes there, with glorious effects. The film manages to go further than even the comparable films of Timo Tjanto (The Night Comes for Us). I found myself giggling at the audacity of the film’s gore and how it continued to play it straight. The film is well made, with great fight choreography and music.
Whilst the film lacks the mean-spirited streak and element of sexual perversion that made Rob Jabbaz’s The Sadness feel genuinely dirty in the best way, this film is a sick treat for sick puppies.
Project Wolf Hunting is streaming on the Icon film channel in the UK and Ireland