Project Wolf Hunting is a genre-switching action / horror blitz from South Korean director Kim Hong-sun (The Age of Blood, Metamorphosis). It’s bloody and visceral and over the top, but sadly, lacks focus and outstays its welcome by the end.
Forty-seven criminals, arrested in the Philippines, are to be transported back to South Korea by boat. They are loaded aboard a cargo ship – “The Frontier Titan” – with twenty detectives and a two-person medical team.
Of course, things don’t go as planned and the crooks are quickly sprung by gang members posing as the ship’s crew. As the cops and criminals wage a pitched battle across the boat, something is awoken in the bowels of the ship and Project Wolf Hunting shifts from bloody action movie to super bloody horror film.
On paper, Project Wolf Hunting sounds like a blast, and it certainly deserves credit for trying to remain unpredictable, but, unfortunately, it’s to the detriment of both character and plot.
As people are killed off left, right and centre, the obvious intent is to imply that no one in this movie is safe. But there are too many characters, most of whom are one dimensional and hard to care about, so Project Wolf Hunting has no idea who its protagonists are. This results in some weird pacing, with many characters barely fleshed out at all, whilst others are established quickly but killed off before doing anything. There seems to be no purpose to it, other than as a red herring.
Project Wolf Hunting also leaves most of its exposition until the end, leaving the audience in the dark for much of its run time. About half way through, when things start to kick off, it’s threatening to become incomprehensible.
The advertising’s Con Air comparison is a stretch too, as the two films share little common ground, beyond the very basic idea of transporting dangerous prisoners from point A to point B. If anything, Project Wolf Hunting is more comparable to Steven Seagal’s nautical action classic, Under Siege, before it shifts gears a second time to play like a Resident Evil sequel.
Fans of gore may appreciate Project Wolf Hunting a little more as it is an extremely bloody and violent movie. Cops and thugs get pulped and mangled and stabbed repeatedly. There’s more geysering blood than a hundred Shogun Assassins. But even then, there’s no sense of humour, so after a while it just starts to feel a bit bleak and nasty.
On top of that, the fight sequences are pretty pedestrian and although there is a lot of gore, it’s not very inventive, so you quickly get the feeling that you’ve seen it all before. In George Orwell’s dystopian masterpiece 1984, he asks us to ‘imagine a boot stamping on a human face – forever.’ Project Wolf Hunting has decided to take that quote literally and show us exactly that, for two hours.
With a tighter runtime and a bit more initial clarity, Project Wolf Hunting coulda been a gem. It tries its best to subvert your expectations, but, ultimately, Project Wolf Hunting’s bloody mayhem is too incoherent to fully enjoy.
‘Project Wolf Hunting’ opened in U.S. cinemas on October 7th and hits Australian cinemas on October 13th.