A group of hunters are about to face their worst nightmare in this pretty well made thriller from director Park Hoon-Jung.
It’s the year 1925 and the Japanese army have taken over the former Kingdom of Joseon. High ranking official Maezono has been hiring hunters and have been collecting their hides. However, there is one hide he wants to get his hands on before planning to leave Japan. That is the hide of the “Mountain King of Joseon”, the last remaining tiger in the former Joseon. He has his underling Ryu, a native Korean, gather a group of local hunters along with Japanese soldiers to find the tiger.
Living in a small hut in Mount Jirisan is Jung Man-Duk, a former sharpshooter for the Kingdom. Tired of hunting, especially after the death of his wife, Man-Duk lives peacefully with his son. When the band of hunters attempt to get Man-Duk to join them in the hunt, the memories of his wife’s tragedy forces him to decline their offer. However, when Man-Duk’s teenage son Seok-Yi is hellbent on joining the hunt so they can survive, fate causes the former sharpshooter to have no other choice.
From Park Hoon-Jung comes a tale of hunting and the consequences one can have when they have been immersed in it and the toll it will take, even if for survival. As the title indicates, the film revolves around the hunt for what is to be the last mountain tiger in Korea and a veteran hunter’s life as he finds himself forced to get involved much to his chagrin and how it affects former cohorts as well as his relationship with his son.
Choi Min-Sik once again shows why he is one of Korea’s top talents on the screen. The veteran actor plays Man-Duk, our protagonist who knows of the dangers of hunting and how it made an impact on his life personally rather than professionally. One can only wonder of his days as a sharpshooter for the Kingdom of Joseon. However, this revolves around his post-military life as a rugged family man who wants to be just left alone and make his own way to survive for the sake of his son and himself.
The supporting cast do quite well here, notably Jung Man-Sik’s Gu-Kyung, who sports the scars of getting slashed during a hunt, leading the Korean hunters alongside the Japanese soldiers hired to do the hunting on the orders of Maezono, the selfish Japanese commander who just wants the tiger’s hide. Sung Woo-Bin is good as Seok-Yi, Man-Duk’s teenage son whose relationship with his father is strained due to the stress his father has endured with his wife’s death, seen in a flashback. Seok-Yi longs to live in the village rather than solitude and finds the hunt as a way to break away from that solitude.
By the title and story, one would think of the film as a boring story of a hunt for a tiger. However, about an hour and a half into the film, a major twist sets off a third act that proves shocking as it combines a pivotal flashback and the ramifications of that flashback’s events that perhaps changes the fate of everyone involved. The only flaw is that some of the visual effects do not look all too impressive while other times, it looks quite convincing, so the tiger effects are ultimately a mixed bag.
The Tiger is a pretty good film that is more than just a simple hunt movie thanks to the performances of Choi Min-Sik and cast. However, they could do a better job with some of the visual effects.
WFG RATING: B
Next Entertainment World presents a Sanai Pictures production. Director: Park Hoon-Jung. Producer: Han Jae-Duk. Writer: Park Hoon-Jung. Cinematography: Lee Mo-Gae. Editing: Kim Chang-Ju.
Cast: Choi Min-Sik, Jung Man-Sik, Kim Sang-Ho, Sung Yoo-Bin, Ren Osugi, Jung Suk-Won, Lee Eun-Woo.