The Korea Herald


‘Hunt’: breathtaking gunfight, psychological warfare in lawless Korean Peninsula

Lee Jung-jae back with Jung Woo-sung on big screen after 23 years

By Lee Si-jin

Published : July 28, 2022 - 15:21

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“Hunt” (Megabox Plus M) “Hunt” (Megabox Plus M)

Squid Game actor Lee Jung-jae’s directorial debut “Hunt,” an espionage action film, offers thrilling action scenes with seemingly unending gunfire and a heart-pounding rivalry between two intelligence agents. For some moviegoers, the long-awaited reunion of top actors Lee Jung-jae – who also stars in the film -- and Jung Woo-sung is enough to hold their expectations high for the movie.

Lee seemed a little nervous when he introduced himself as a director for the first time in his 23-year career during a press conference at Megabox Coex in Gangnam-gu, southern Seoul, on Thursday. But he said he believed that the mesmerizing performances of the starring actors are presented to their fullest in the espionage action film.

“Many changes have been made from the original script. I thought deeply about what to keep and throw away. I remember spending a lot of time in choosing the theme of the film,” the actor-turned-director said.

Lee hoped to choose a theme that can many audiences could relate to. After careful consideration, he decided to feature South Korea in the 1980s as the backdrop, a period of political upheaval.

“Hunt” revolves around two elite agents at the Agency for National Security Planning, Park Pyung-ho (played by Lee) and Kim Jung-do (played by Jung Woo-sung), who are chasing after a North Korean spy leaking top secrets.

Starting from the South Korean president’s visit to Washington in 1983, to a spy operation in Tokyo, the agents go head-to-head in an intense competition, a battle to prove their loyalty for the country and its leader.

With their growing obsession to hunt down the spy, the agents start to suspect and monitor each other.

“‘Hunt’ gave me an opportunity to learn that I am still able to present an exciting confrontation with Lee,” actor Jung said.
Jung Woo-sung (left) and Lee Jung-jae pose for photos after a press conference held at Megabox Coex in Seoul on Wednesday. (Yonhap) Jung Woo-sung (left) and Lee Jung-jae pose for photos after a press conference held at Megabox Coex in Seoul on Wednesday. (Yonhap)

“Watching him (Lee) fulfilling his duty as the director, I felt sorry for him. He was losing weight and becoming tired. But Lee definitely made all the actors feel like they could rely on him, while carrying out his responsibilities,” Jung added.

The newly debuted director said that he wanted his movie to be a little different from other projects.

“I am not a big fan of tear-jerking scenes, so I tried to minimize an emotional approach to the characters. The characters showed their thoughts and beliefs through historical background and their respective dilemmas,” the director explained.

Lee and Jung, whose decadeslong friendship traces back to the 1999 drama film “City of The Rising Sun,” agreed that their attitude toward and passion for film have not changed despite not having worked together for 23 years.

“Our goal has remained the same. We want to make a ‘good’ film,” Lee said.

“There is a small difference, to be honest. Considering our age, we easily get tired after four or five takes,” Lee jokingly added.

The top actors agreed that as they have become veterans, they feel more responsibility for their performances. They also have more discussions about the future, searching for ways to improve and grow the Korean movie industry.

The 125-minute film “Hunt,” which premiered at the 75th edition of the Cannes Film Festival in the noncompetition Midnight Screening section, is scheduled to hit local theaters on Aug. 10.

By Lee Si-jin (