A report in
El País Semanal
this Christmas gave an account of the Korean fury that the West is experiencing in terms of entertainment and pop culture.
' triumph at the Oscars
and even more so after its blockbuster in half the world, and the extraordinary television success of
The Squid Game
added to certain musical phenomena, everything that smacks of South Korea seems to be able to come to fruition. translate into glory and money.
That will hardly be the case with Hunt
's theatrical release .
despite being a worthy film, and no matter how much its director and cast head is Lee Jung-jae, star of
The Squid Game.
This is political cinema and, as they used to say in classic Hollywood, it threatens to poison the box office.
The protagonist of 'The Squid Game' sweeps Cannes with a 'thriller' about spies in his directorial debut
Politics, espionage and action come together in Lee's directorial debut.
Set in the early eighties, after the military coup by General Chun Doo-hwan, the country's repressive leader until 1988,
recounts a time of confusion represented by an evident lack of freedoms, social demonstrations in defense of civil rights, rapprochement with the United States during the presidency of Ronald Reagan, with an evident interest in dominating the region through his political and military influence, awarding the Olympic Games to Seoul for 1988 and, of course, a silent spy battle with the communist North.
Before its subsequent economic expansion, South Korea was a presumed democracy with a single party that naturally won elections, and those dictatorial temptations, later confirmed, are shown sideways in the film.
The situation of the country, between the threat of a communist invasion from the North, an open war with its neighbors, or even the possibility of a chimerical peaceful reunification, represents a large part of
However, the essence of his story is not so much in the heights as in the personal and ideological rivalry between the two heads of the country's security apparatus, aware of the existence of a North Korean spy in their ranks, persecutors of the plot and, at the same time suspicious to the viewer that either could be the mole.
And it is in this sense when situations arise in which the film becomes too thick in terms of script: the physical fight between the two in the corridors of an official body;
or the same development of characters and their motivations, at least, highly debatable.
Lee plays on the one hand at dramatic and political height, and on the other at commercial entertainment.
But that indecision ends up hurting
with very good moments of action in his staging, musically punctuated by a pounding and infamous soundtrack that smells like a conventional production of whiplash and shrapnel.
HUNT THE SPY
Lee Jung-jae, Jung Woo-sung, Heo Sung-tae, Jeon Hye-jin.
South Korea, 2023.
Premiere: January 4.
Premiere: January 4.
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