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Action-thriller 'Time to Hunt' envisions dystopia packed with subcultures

Award-winning ‘Bleak Night’ director, cast reunite in ‘Time to Hunt’

“Time to Hunt” (Little Big Pictures)
“Time to Hunt” (Little Big Pictures)

Director Yoon Sung-hyun, who bagged several awards here and abroad in 2011 with debut film “Bleak Night,” is returning to the big screen in February with the feature “Time to Hunt,” which he described as a true action flick.

The action-thriller revolves around four young men who set out on a journey to start a new life in a fictional, completely destroyed society. The story takes place in what seems like Seoul in the near future, with the city turned into slums following a catastrophic financial crisis. As the young men execute their survival plans -- including some dangerous crimes -- a mysterious man chases after them, closing in fast.

The director and cast members of “Time to Hunt,” Lee Je-hoon, Park Jeong-min, Ahn Jae-hong, Choi Woo-shik and Park Hae-soo, talked about the film in a press conference in eastern Seoul on Friday.

While Yoon’s second feature has been long awaited by fans of art house drama “Bleak Night,” the director says “Time to Hunt” takes a different turn from his previous work in many ways.

“Whereas ‘Bleak Night’ was centered more on the drama and the realistic expressions of emotions, and the structure of the story was more complicated, I wanted to achieve the complete opposite (of such aspects) through ‘Time to Hunt,’” Yoon said during the media event.

“The movie is more expressive than realistic. The actors also focused on showing heightened tension through intense chase scenes, rather than on portraying the subtle emotions,” Yoon said. “While many Korean movies emphasize narratives, I wanted more straightforward stories packed with fierce action, like ‘Jaws,’ ‘Terminator,’ ‘Duel,’ and ‘Mad Max’.”

Cinematic music, sound effects, the overall rhythm and the actors’ facial expressions are all the nonverbal elements that pull and push the flow of the story in “Time to Hunt.”

“Although it’s been said the movie takes place in some near future, I didn’t exactly intend the scenes to reflect such a setting. The background against which the story takes place is a metaphorical and allegorical area based on dystopian values,” the director explained. 

Rather than an environment of ruins, Yoon says he incorporated subcultural elements -- such as graffiti, street fashion and hip-hop -- stemming from the slums, which he expects are worth taking notice in the movie.

“Time to Hunt” (Little Big Pictures)
“Time to Hunt” (Little Big Pictures)

Owing to the director’s strive for perfection in the details, the movie’s release, initially expected last year, has been delayed. According to Yoon, the picture is still undergoing its last touches in editing and computer graphics production.

Heightening anticipation, Yoon is teaming up with lead cast members of “Bleak Night,” Lee Je-hoon and Park Jeong-min, in “Time to Hunt.”

Lee, who was honored as the best new actor at the 32nd Blue Dragon Film Awards for “Bleak Night,” plays Jun-seok in the new movie.

“I’ve always dreamed of us three teaming up again and it felt great to be working with Yoon and Park again, and it reminded me of the past,” Lee said during the press conference. “Although we had better food on the film sets and the overall shooting environment has improved, as we had kept in contact over the years, I felt nothing else has changed since.”

In the movie, led by Jun-seok, the group of three friends, including Jang-ho and Ki-hoon -- played by Ahn Jae-hong and Choi Woo-shik, respectively -- set out on a bitter race for survival. The friends are joined by Sang-soo, played by Park Jeong-min, who becomes a key figure in the group’s survival. Park Hae-soo portrays the mysterious hunter, Han.

“Time to Hunt” (Little Big Pictures)
“Time to Hunt” (Little Big Pictures)

“Time to Hunt” (Little Big Pictures)
“Time to Hunt” (Little Big Pictures)

During the press conference, Choi, who recently received the best ensemble prize at the Screen Actors Guild Awards for his part in “Parasite” said he was honored to be a part of such an experience.

“It was my first time crying because I was too happy,” Choi said as he remembered the day of the awards. “It was a feeling that I had never felt before and I’m just so grateful.”

The director and actors of “Time to Hunt” will be heading to Germany in February to see the film get its world premiere in the 70th Berlin International Film Festival’s special gala section. It will be the first screened during the forum that highlights creative and noteworthy titles and filmmakers from around the world.

“Time to Hunt” hits local theaters later in February.

By Choi Ji-won (