Film Review: Project Wolf Hunting is cinematic nirvana for fans of action cinema and grindhouse splatter

Project Wolf Hunting tells the story about a police operation that is taking place after a disastrous prisoner transport over air travel ended disastrously due to an airport bombing. The alternate route of transportation is via freighter boat and the mission is simple – transport prisoners from the Philippines through the Pacific Ocean to South Korea within 3 days. The operation goes awry when the prisoners escape their confinement and stage a mutiny in overthrowing the ship. But little do both the police and prisoners know, there is a certain danger below the ship that will wreak havoc on all unless work together to stop it.

Over the years in genre cinema, technological advances have made the process of filmmaking easier, quicker and safer. Flaws can be easily removed in post-production, set-ups can be processed swiftly and the hassles of maintaining a film are much less arduous. And yet, there are some things that technological advances cannot compensate on. A sense of practicality and tangibility present in pre-digital films that audiences have taken for granted. On that note, whenever we see practical effects in a film in the present time, it feels warmly nostalgic and immediately provocative.

In the case of Project Wolf Hunting, ultraviolence is the name of the game and it delivers spectacularly. The film is essentially a survival action/horror mash-up of Con Air and cult classics (that shall not be named due to maintaining the surprise factor); complete with gushing blood geysers that spray so much that every puncture wound on any part of the body feels like a targeted descending aorta. There has not been this much slaughter and massacring in an action film since the Indonesian cinema of Gareth Evans and Timo Tjahjanto. And yet, it is all executed practically. The actors and stuntpeople are all drowning in the messes of the human flesh that gorehounds will cry from excitement.

The story is not so much a narrative but more of a feature-length excuse for carnage. The characterizations are razor-thin as the audience only latch onto them based on their appearances. The actors relish their one-dimensional nature of the roles and are enthusiastic in the brutal proceedings. Choi Gwi-hwa lends an imposing presence that is miles away from his role in the 2022 film The Roundup, Seo In-guk is gleefully sadistic as the prison leader, Park Ho-san provides credibility as the world-weary police captain, Jung So-min is capably headstrong as the young police officer and Jang Dong-yoon lends a mysterious air as the youthful prisoner.

What the film lacks in originality and three-dimensional characters, it makes up for in surprises. From the first act, the one-dimensional nature of the story would be fitting if the story was just about the cops fighting the prisoners like a good vs. evil motif. But writer/director Kim Hong-sun has a couple of nifty twists up his sleeve that changes the game entirely. Without going into major spoilers. the film starts from being an action-thriller to a survival-horror and the story goes into territory that can be considered exploitation or grindhouse. But the real impressive feat is that Kim manages to keep the violence and story twists staggering without making the film monotonous. He manages to keep the level of danger palpable by shifting the role of protagonist and antagonist; proving that nobody is safe.

The action scenes are not choreographed as if they are meant to be seen as graceful or balletic; but rather feral and animalistic. Nothing in the mortal combat is meant to have any deep meaning or innate beauty. However, there is a gonzo sensibility in the violence that is undeniably entertaining in amusingly macabre sort of way. Let’s just say that limbs are not meant to be used in the way that Project Wolf Hunting portrays them.

It is a wonderful thing to see films with such blatant disregard for the human body to exist in action cinema and Project Wolf Hunting fits the bill to a T and then some. If you can watch this film with a huge crowd, it is highly recommended that you do so. Uproarious laughter, extreme shock and mind-numbing shock is a guarantee when viewing Project Wolf Hunting.

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Project Wolf Hunting will be out in cinemas on October 13th, courtesy of Umbrella Entertainment.

Harris Dang

Rotten Tomatoes-approved Film Critic. Also known as that handsome Asian guy you see in the cinema with a mask on.