Project Wolf Hunting was reviewed out of Beyond Fest, and will hit North American theaters on Oct. 7, 2022.
Project Wolf Hunting is like 20 insane midnight movies crammed into one blood-slathered package, and each one rules. Kim Hong-seon writes and directs one of the bloodiest action spectacles since Tokyo Gore Police or Rambo, defying human biology in ways that’d be too indulgent even for the thirstiest vampires. Once the first kill pops in this action-horror frenzy, the fun don’t stop. The official website for Beyond Fest (where Project Wolf Hunting was screened for this review) beats me to the punch by dubbing it “Con Air meets Under Siege meets Resident Evil meets Universal Soldiers,” but let’s try my own. Project Wolf Hunting is Con Air meets Predator meets Nemesis from Resident Evil meets Overlord meets Tokyo Gore Police meets [REC] 4: Apocalypse.
There, that’s the Donato formula.
Korean criminals being extradited from the Philippines back to South Korean soil for judgment are routed to a freighter vessel after air travel is deemed too dangerous. On their last leg of duty before welcome homecomings, law enforcement is to accompany a double-digits clan of wrangled evildoers meant to stay in custody. Before we’re adequately introduced to handcuffed future inmates and exhausted detectives, deadly mayhem breaks loose when stowaway mercenaries release tattooed uber-villain Jong-du (Seo In-guk) — prisoners now roam free, and the remaining officers are under attack.
If there’s one qualm about Project Wolf Hunting, it’s the meat-grinder nature of events that doesn’t care to characterize…well, anyone. Jong-du is easily definable due to inked head-to-toe artwork — multiple bare rump shots confirm — but otherwise, most of the fugitives are fleshy pawns. The same goes for upstanding police ranks positioned outside makeshift cells, existing as opening siege fodder, all under a steely captain’s command (played by Park Ho-san). Project Wolf Hunting is one of those movies where bodies appear on screen with one goal: hit the floor. That said? Hong-seon never stops thrashing once he opens the pit (so to speak), which makes up for slighter development that doesn’t matter once massacres ensue.
As an antes-raised, safety’s off, no-holds-barred action cocktail that’s heavy on ‘90s pulp, Project Wolf Hunting slaughters mass numbers with the best of ’em. Characters have an appetite for bodily mutilation, as every bludgeon opens a faucet of blood that redecorates cargo ship interiors with K-Horror extremism. Wounds spray crimson liquids with the intensity of the blood sprinklers from Blade’s opening rave, while sound design overlays sickening crunches like bones shatter Mortal Kombat style with every blunt impact. Action is sensationally unforgiving as trigger pulls end lives without any monologues or hesitation — the reality of unceasing carnage becomes a reddened avalanche of caved craniums, detached limbs, and literal floods of blood so slick, convicts clamor on hands and knees like they’re slipping over cartoon ice patches.
Even better, Hong-seon defies expectations when you think you’ve figured out Project Wolf Hunting. It’s good versus evil on the open seas. Right? Jong-du’s ranks square against officers who’ve matched themselves one on one, teeing up the rivalries to come — and then Project Wolf Hunter unleashes its horror surprise. It’s the swing Project Wolf Hunter needs just when you think Hong-seon might be leveling out, like an adrenaline shot between the eyes that tweaks tonal grasps from barbaric bruiser excitement to extermination survival horror.
So Project Wolf Hunting goes, piling on outrageous conspiracy plotlines about unlikely team-ups, Umbrella-type experimentation, and merciless corporate expendability. Cinematography, music, and performances somehow never run out of breath as Hong-seon barrels forward with guns blazing. There’s a Deep Rising vibe that substitutes midway, except more slasher-friendly in terms of where Hong-seon draws later influences once Jong-du causes enough senseless havoc. The experience ensures that audiences understand no protagonist or antagonist is safe and that mutilation remains a favorable priority. Neither approach will resonate universally — screenplay nuts and bolts could use a quick tightening — but will work gangbusters for the midnight maniacs who tune in for statement-maker bloodbaths.