Can you ever imagine yourself living in a dystopian world, a country where you have to survive each day, not knowing what else may befall you? A country with financial apocalypse if you may say so.
Such is the Korean movie ‘Time to Hunt’ on Netflix. A fictional intense action film, filled with metaphors of escapism and heavy social prejudice. Along with a hint of heartfelt emotion and money heist story-line.
You might say, Oh! Another money heist movie, possibly with the same plot. But spoiler alert, this movie is much more than that. A good 2-hour investment of your time will not go to waste.
The plot is set in the near future, an area in the city of South Korea filled with poverty. The movie is directed and written by Yoon Sung Hyun. Joon Seok (Lee Je Hoon) is the protagonist of the movie, he wants to leave the country and start a new life. To achieve that he sets up a wild crime plan. He takes the help of three friends Ki Hoon (Choi Woo Sik), Jang Ho (Ahn Jae Hong), and Sang Soo (Park Jung Min). Soon, these 4 men are chased by a mysterious man named Han (Park Hae Soo), the antagonist of the movie.
You may remember Choi Woo Sik from the Oscar fame movie ‘Parasite’. The entire cast will not disappoint you with their acting.
Let us now paint a picture of how this country looks like in the movie. South Korean citizens are struggling to earn money, the movie shows the divide between the rich and the poor, one side of the city is filled with bright lights while the other side, where the protagonist resides is seemingly dark and gloomy, police are always on the lookout, protests against the government in every street, streets filled with gangs, loud wall art criticizing the government, broken-dirty houses, roads, gun control out of the window, with people worried just not be shot.
Joon Seok had just come out of jail serving a three-year term for the robbery he committed with his pals. Joon Seok tells his friends a dream of his, to get out of this no-good country and start a civil life in Taiwan with them. His friends explain how the world has changed while he was in jail after a big financial collapse; the Korean won they stole were worthless now and only American dollars counts.
‘Time to Hunt‘ starts tad bit slow in the beginning, but once Joon Seok’s plan goes into action, the movie picks up its pace.
Joon Seok comes up with an idea of a money heist from an underworld gambling den and plans to use that money to escape the country with his friends. Joon Seok decides to add a fourth person Sang Soo to their gang who knows the inside-out of the illegal gambling den, since he happens to work in it. They plan to gather weapons for the heist and so Joon Seok goes to one of his former prison buddies. He loans them some serious assault weapons and bullet-proof vests, and they’re off on a heist that only fools would dare attempt.
Interestingly it’s not the loot but a handful of surveillance tapes they grabbed in the process that triggers the stop-at-nothing pursuit, though they’re too busy trying to stay alive to realize their mistake.
Then enters Han — the “hunter” of the film, wordplay related to the ironic title of the movie. His task is to figure out who the masked casino thieves were, recover the tapes and kill the culprits. Technically, the last step isn’t part of his job; he thinks of it more as ‘fun’. Han is a hired killer who’s all menace and certainly has no emotion. He’s the opposite of a human shadow, he has a way of turning up places before the people he’s tracking even get there.
‘Time to Hunt‘ is about — it’s psychological terror. The actors are in a run from the killer, they are chased through an abandoned apartment building where one of the boys is wounded and a hair-raising escape from an underground parking lot, Han follows them to a distant hospital. By the final shootout, the audience will be trembling along with Joon Seok, who has become a shotgun-wielding street-fighter out of sheer desperation. Due credit goes to Joon Seok and Jang Ho on how they showed the viewers’ sympathy both as orphans without families and blood brothers who stand united in their moment of greatest need.
The movie shows each character very well, defining friendship, the meaning of family, letting go, jealousy, greed. The music score which accompanies the characters in the beginning, and whilst the heist, unexpectedly blends well with the scenes.
The film is beautiful, as is shown through Lim Won Geun’s red-filtered photography full of individually perfect shots. The yellow-red-dark tint, gloomy dystopian atmospherics-blood-red light for the night scenes, a fetching purple sky at one point, these efforts are given to show the oppressive and monotonous tones of the movie.
Director Yoon’s film shows the characters and the city not a part of one’s contemporary world. He makes a striking contrast through the muted grey and blue hues of the city. The movie could be considered a piece of art against its steady plot.
‘Time to Hunt’ is Yoon Sung Hyun’s only his second feature film. Most of his past writing-directing experience comes from short films. His previous feature film came out ten years ago (in 2010) and was his graduation project. He even won several Best New Director awards for it.
With this review I hope I have created a little curiosity in you to give this movie a shot.
Rating – 8/10
Disclaimer – The review is the personal opinion of the writer.