Berlinale Bloggers 2020
A lost future
World premiere for the movie “Time to Hunt” by Korean director Yoon Sung-hyun – and for the audience an exceptional cineastic experience.
By Hyunjin Park
After Parasite took four prizes at the Oscars 2020, including the one for best film, interest in Korean film has been keen worldwide. Time to Hunt (Sanyang-ui Sigan), one of two Korean films invited to the Berlinale 2020, is no exception. At the press screening the day before the official premiere, journalists queued up 30 minutes before the start, and at the press conference many questions were asked about the recent attacks on Parasite by US President Trump.
A dystopiAN visionTime to Hunt is set in a Korea of the near future. Due to an economic crisis, the government is yet again negotiating with the International Monetary Fund, workers are on strike in protest against restructuring, and young people in the cities have long since lost all hope. Jun-seok (Lee Je-hoon), who has just been released from jail to the ruins of the city, dreams of a new life on a small island in the turquoise blue sea. Together with his friends Jang-ho (Ahn Jae-hong), Ki-hoon (Choi Woo-shik) and Sang-su (Park Jeong-min) he concocts a risky caper. At first everything works out as planned, but soon they are on the run from a mysterious pursuer (Park Hae-soo) – what happens then provides the viewer with a high dose of tension and draws them under its spell.
In his debut film Bleak Night director Yoon Sung-hyun sensitively described the emotional confusion of teenagers and was celebrated by critics and viewers alike. Time to Hunt takes the exact opposite tack. The plot is simple and direct, the director aimed to generate tension above all through the situation in which his characters find themselves. “In this work I didn't focus on the plot or the dialogues, but on what only films can do: Music and sound, set design, editing rhythm, the actors' facial expressions,” explains Yoon Sung-hyun.
AN ENIGMATIC PURSUERWhen Ki-hoon and Jang-ho pick up Jun-seok from prison at the beginning of the film, the view of the dystopian cityscape is underlain with hip-hop music. The resulting synergy expresses the emotional world of the neglected young people in a way that fascinates. The pistol shots must also be mentioned in connection with the film's sound design. They are so impressive and realistic that sensitive persons or those with heart problems should be forewarned.
The role of the antagonist also dominates the film in an impressive style. However, the past of this character, who mentally resembles a psychopath and physically a robot or god, is only barely addressed. Only the countless scars and tattoos on his muscular body, which can be seen briefly in a shower scene, as well as the cut-off ears hanging on the wall in the apartment, hint at his past life. The desperation of the young men, hunted by him without knowing why and who must fear for their lives, feels empty. Nevertheless, the tension of the film, which so powerfully challenges the senses, is inescapable.