Project Wolf Hunting (2023): Film Review
Con Air and Predator meet in KIM Hong-seon’s Project Wolf Hunting, a fun yet repetitious action-horror picture covered in crimson red from beginning to end.
Every year, we get an over-the-top slasher that shocks people due to its hyper-violent nature and rude demeanor. Most people won’t even interact with the film because of the violence and gore being portrayed on film. Of course, its scenarios need to be seen as scary and ridiculous because the character’s situations are baffling – and their decisions even more so. Nobody gets out safe in those films; every character will bleed one way or another. Last year, we got Robert Jabbaz’s The Sadness, which combined George A. Romero’s The Crazies with David Cronenberg’s Rabid (although without the greatness or thematic strengths of either) to deliver one of the bloodiest films of the 2020s so far.
Jabbaz has some competition. There’s a film that wants to surpass The Sadness’ chaotic nature and get the title of “shocker of the year”. That film is KIM Hong-seon’s Project Wolf Hunting, which premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival last year to a shocked midnight-picture-loving audience. It feels like Con Air mixed with Predator, without their campy nature and with the provocative elements of exploitation cinema. Project Wolf Hunting is a splatter fest filled with blood and guts. And those looking for a gory action-horror picture with B-movie sensibilities will be in for the ride. However, its repetitive nature and lack of ideas in its claustrophobic setting causes KIM Hong-seon’s latest to lose its momentum halfway through.
The film begins with forty-seven of the most violent criminals and miscreants being placed on a big ship going from the Philippines to Busan, South Korea. One of those criminals is a notorious serial killer, Park Jang-du (Seo In-guk), who we know is plotting some form of escape due to his looks and smirks. They are being transported by some detectives and policemen tasked with “babysitting” them – keeping an eye on them as they travel along the seas to their destination. And just as expected, things immediately go wrong. Park’s associates have taken over the ship and freed every single prisoner. Not even twenty minutes into the film, blood is being spilled in every imaginable form.
Park and his boys think they have the upper hand over the detectives and the prisoners acting against them. However, what they don’t expect is that there is a Frankenstein-like menace aboard the vessel. The government has been working on a series of experiments where it turns people into super-soldiers. The creature is an unstoppable killing machine that would bash one’s skull with its bare hands. The prisoners and detectives now try to team up as this menace is hunting them in batches. The film doesn’t explain why the police put this otherworldly menace onto the same ship as the prisoners, but it does lead up to the bloodstained mayhem in this midnight-movie splatter fest.
Project Wolf Hunting begins with a B-movie set-up that I found entertaining and intriguing because it reminded me of hijacking and prison-break movies, for example, Skyjacked (1972), Con Air (1997), and, in some manner, the ridiculously entertaining Airport film series. Unlike the aforementioned films, Project Wolf Hunting dwells into a hyper-violent and full-throttled nature that might entice gorehounds to pursue this film. There isn’t a single second where you don’t see a speck of blood on the floor or the character’s faces. The other half of the film is where it switches gears. What began as a battle between cops and criminals turns into a slasher flick, where the creature chases every single person in its path.
In this section, the most brutal and violent kills arrive; heads are bashed open, limbs are torn, faces are cut, amongst other things you might expect with this type of film. While it might be entertaining at ninety minutes or less, it extends its welcome unnecessarily, primarily because it sets up a sequel. As it goes from set-piece to set-piece, Project Wolf Hunting runs out of momentum and ideas the more time it spends doing the same dynamic. If the kills varied from one another, it would at least be worthwhile, yet most of them are repetitive. There are only so many times you can watch the same thing repeatedly. And because of its claustrophobic setting, KIM Hong-seon runs out of things to do.
Project Wolf Hunting needed some form of spark in its creative decisions for the film to maintain its high-tension momentum going for most of its runtime. Later, the film wants to add more narrative background by introducing a third-act flashback to the creature’s origins. I found this late-act addition to the narrative unnecessary. The flashback feels like an exposition dump meant to connect the dots for what has happened until that point in the film and to propose a possible sequel. And it doesn’t work in the least because, in the end, this film is about a super-soldier on a killing spree. It is an eighty-minute action-horror picture that runs for two hours and deflates as it goes on after that.
Although the first act promises something intriguing for those seeking B-movie sensibilities, the rest gets lost in its uncontrollable mayhem. And while it is enjoyable to a certain point, the latter end of Project Wolf Hunting feels repetitive to a fault.
Project Wolf Hunting will be released on Digital, Blu-ray & DVD on February 14, 2023.