Hunt Review: Squid Game Star Lee Jung-Jae’s Directorial Debut Is An Intriguing But Hard-To-Follow Spy Thriller - 8 Days Skip to main content

Hunt Review: Squid Game Star Lee Jung-Jae’s Directorial Debut Is An Intriguing But Hard-To-Follow Spy Thriller

Plus: 100-word (keep it snappy!) reviews of Beast, Me Time and Samaritan.

Hunt Review: Squid Game Star Lee Jung-Jae’s Directorial Debut Is An Intriguing But Hard-To-Follow Spy Thriller
Hunt: Lee Jung-Jae and Jung Woo-Sung are ready for a straight walk-off, old-school rules.

Hunt (NC16)

Starring Lee Jung-Jae, Jung Woo-Sung, Jeon Hye-Jin

Directed by Lee Jung-Jae

Squid Game actor Lee Jung-Jae pops his directorial cherry with this insanely complicated espionage potboiler set in the 1980s where he and Jung Woo-Sung play rival Korean Central Intelligence Agency chiefs tasked with flushing out a North Korean mole who might be linked to a plot to assassinate the South Korean President. And the spycatchers' No.1 suspect? Each other. This amped-up take on Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy — filtered through Michael Mann’s Heat and Andrew Lau and Alan Mak’s Infernal Affairs is compelling as it is confusing; from the get-go, the story’s packed with names, events and twists and turns. There’s a lot to process, so much so that it’s exhausting to keep up sometimes. (Go for a pee break or answer a text, you risk missing out on a plot point.) In the end, Hunt feels like freshly poured beer: the foam rises but when it settles, the glass is only half-filled. (3/5 stars) In cinemas now

Photos: Encore Pictures
Beast: Idris Elba just realised this isn’t a good time to play Katy Perry’s ‘Roar’.

Beast (NC16)

Starring Idris Elba, Leah Jeffries, Iyana Halley, Sharlto Copley

Directed by Baltasar Kormakur

After crashing into the snowy alps in The Mountain Between Us, Idris Elba finds himself in another stand-off with Mother Nature, this time he’s up against a rogue (CG) lion in a game reserve in South Africa. The back-to-basics survival thriller proudly wears the Jurassic Park influences on its sleeve (or rather a T-shirt — Easter egg alert!) but director Baltasar Kormakur (Everest) isn’t nearly as successful in delivering the scares to match those in Spielberg’s classic creature-feature: he’s more concerned with Elba’s big city doctor trying to patch things up with his estranged daughters than on the titular apex predator. (2.5/5 stars) In cinemas now

Photo: UIP

Me Time: Kevin Hart and Mark Wahlberg are heading to the Wahlburgers for lunch.

Me Time (M18)

Starring Mark Wahlberg, Kevin Hart, Regina Hall

Directed by John Hamburg

Was Dwayne Johnson too busy to reunite with Kevin Hart in this wannabe bro-com as lifelong buddies cutting loose? Instead of The Rock (you dodged a bullet!), Hart is stuck with Mark Wahlberg, and their chemistry is as believable as the opening wingsuit jump sequence. Or that CG cougar. It won’t have mattered if the rest of the movie were any good; it’s just a series of watered-down Hangover-ish shenanigans. Maybe they should’ve enlisted John Cena. Then again, he had already done his version of Me Time last year — Vacation Friends with Lil Rel Howery. That one was way funnier. (2/5 stars) On Netflix

Photo: Saeed Adyani/Netflix

Samaritan: Javon ‘Wanna’ Walton (left) wants to know where Sylvester Stallone bought his hoodie.

Samaritan (PG13)

Starring Sylvester Stallone, Pilou Asbæk, Javon ‘Wanna’ Walton, Dascha Polanco, Martin Starr

Directed by Julius Avery

More than 25 years after Judge Dredd (which isn’t as awful as most people think), Sylvester Stallone gets to headline another superhero movie. He plays Joe Smith — a John Rambo surrogate — a super-powered vigilante who reluctantly comes out of a self-imposed exile to confront a new menace to society (Game of Thrones’ Pilou Asbæk, drawing another quick baddie paycheck), as well as his own checkered past. The result: an Unbreakable knock-off that’s no different than the direct-to-video fillers Sly diligently churned out in the noughties — forgettable, dreary and light on thrills. Seriously, Samaritan makes Judge Dredd look like Avengers: Endgame. (2/5 stars) On Amazon Prime Video

Photo: Amazon Prime Video/MGM

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