Time To Hunt(Netflix, Korean)
Directed by Yoon Sung-hyun,
This is a lean, taut, flab-free action thriller that will have you on the edge of your seat for at least two hours of the 134-minute playing time. Time To Hunt is a film that gives us no time to think. It is relentlessly on the prowl, sweeping us along in its heist-gone-to-waist plot with nary a pause to breathe.
In fact you would be well-advised to forget about seeing director Yoon Sung-hyun’s sinewy thriller in instalments. Like potato chips once you start you won’t be able to put it down before it finishes.
The start is mundane enough. Jun-seok(Lee Je-hoon) comes out of jail and is welcomed by his two partner-friends Jang-Ho(Ahn Jae-hong) and Ki-hoon(Choi Woo-shik). Before long Jun-seok plans one last robbery with his friends. They recruit the services of a fourth friend Sang-soo .
It all looks like a streamlined set-up as boringly epic as Army Of The Dead, except that the dead army here could well be Jun-seok and his friends who are chased incessantly by a coldblooded assassin Han(Park Hae-soo) who is to this lean mean plot what Gary Oldman was in Luc Besson’s thriller Leon which was as sinuous slim agile as this film.
Han’s mysterious love for mayhem and murder haunts the four men on the run, rushes them down to a bundle of nerves. There are two major shootouts in the plot, one set in a hospital(which is surprisingly bereft of patients) and an eerie abandoned apartment block where every sound is an invitation to death.
The shootouts are not just elaborate, they are also acutely impressive. It’s been a while since we saw a thriller so heart-in-the-mouth and edge-of-the –seat,you can’t blink or breathe. The sweaty anxiety of the four fugitives, all played with a contagious trepidation, is impressively scaled up as Han the assassin closes in on them with a gravity-defying ferocity.
A thriller as sophisticated as Time To Hunt would not be what it is were it not for the sound design and the cinematography. The sounds as the four heist survivors flee their angel of death subsume sounds ranging from a footfall to a gunshot, all suggesting a deep connection between suspense and sound effects.
Lim Won-geun’s stunning cinematography soaks the frames in an angry orange glow.The only other time I’ve seen the frames so inured in orange was in Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Devdas. Here the colours are all close to death. A noisy violent brutal death. It is this that our four protagonists try to escape. Their smothered war cry to live becomes the film’s guiding force.
You will find yourself praying for these men’s lives. Their crime seems way too small for the punishment meted out to them.