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[Fantastic Fest ’22] ‘Project Wolf Hunting’ review: South Korean action thriller is a bloody mess

Blood in, blood out.

Project Wolf Hunting constantly asks when have things gone too far?  Set on a cargo ship on its way to Korea, the film is about a group of dangerous Korean criminals who are being extradited from the Philippines. The prisoners are not too keen on returning to their homeland and have plans to take the ship over. It sounds a little too familiar, but it is not long before the story becomes a different beast.

A bunch of dangerous criminals being held against their wills in a confined space promises violence and this movie definitely delivers. Even before the ship leaves the harbor, there is a long beatdown scene following an inappropriate comment made by one of the more violent passengers. This is just the faintest taste of what Project Wolf Hunting has to offer. As the plot progresses and the body count rises, things become increasingly bloodier. So much so that is is impossible not to ask when is enough too much?

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Throat slashings, biting, dismemberments, and just good old fashioned clubbing are just some of what Project Wolf Hunting gives the audience. More often than not, these acts are shown in all their glory. After all, why just show someone bite down on someone’s neck, when you can show them rip a chunk of their neck, then chew on the skin for a while? Adding to the kills are the fountains of blood that shoot out of the wounds. It makes the graphically depicted headshots seem tame in comparison.

While gore hounds will love it, even audiences that are able to stomach all the violence should get a kick out of it. The problem is, it may be for all the wrong reasons. What is initially disgusting soon becomes comical. Case in point: after a major twist, a person is killed in brutal fashion. It gives an idea of what the ship will now be dealing with and is a visually impressive scene. But, it is hard not to laugh at the entire thing. In all fairness, the reveal itself is pretty goofy, yet it is hard to shake the feeling that it may have left a different impression if there were not so many graphic killings earlier.

Which leads to another issue with Project Wolf Hunting. It is hard to tell what tone it is going for. While there are moments of intentional comedy, the funniest scenes do not seem to be on purpose. The whole thing seems to be serious even though things get very ridiculous. This includes a story that goes all over the place and can be very confusing at times.

Still, there is no denying just how fun of a movie it is. Most of the laughs may not have been planned, but that only adds to the enjoyment. This is not a movie that falls under the “so bad, it is good” category, either. There are some great action sequences and gore effects. Project Wolf Hunting is also a smartly paced movie that never slows down once it gets started. There may be some missteps along the way, but it never falls on its face.

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