Friday, January 27, 2017

Film Review - The Tiger: An Old Hunter's Tale (2015)

The Tiger: An Old Hunter's Tale (Review)
South Korea/2015
Format Viewed For Review: Netflix Instant
Netflix Streaming: Yes
Amazon Prime: No

"...creates a very special and compelling rivalry between two hunters."

In 1925, Japanese rulers demand the death of the last remaining tiger in Korea. The tiger, however, proves to be a worthy challenger...

The Tiger: An Old Hunter's Tale is a period drama that follows Chun Man-duk (Choi Min-sik), a hunter tormented by his past. After tragedy strikes his family, Man-Duk finds himself living alone with his son, Seok. As he attempts to live a regular life, away from the hunting and death, Japanese rulers and a group of Korean hunters attempt to kill the last living tiger in Korea. The tiger, known as the lord of the mountain, is a difficult target, though – smart, agile, and vicious. It takes quite a bit of time to get to the promised showdown between Man-duk and the tiger, but it eventually gets there. It's not an epic hunt in terms of scale, but it is compelling thanks to the buildup and character development. So, it leads to a strong climax and ending.

I really enjoyed The Tiger. Due to its setting and characters, it reminded me of The Revenant. However, The Tiger is a different animal. Aside from the supporting cast, the film is focused on developing two integral characters: Man-duk and the tiger. Yes, the tiger is treated as a character in this film. This creates a very special and compelling rivalry between two hunters. It allows for some very emotional scenes as well as some provocative themes. This isn't an action movie, but it does have some heart-pounding thrills. The only problem with this film is its unnecessarily slow pace and filler scenes. I don't mind a long film, obviously, but I don't feel like this film had to be nearly 140 minutes long. The fat causes the film to lose momentum at times, which is disappointing. On top of that, there are some sub-plots that are introduced but never built upon.

Choi Min-sik is fantastic as the leading man. He is effortlessly natural and his emotion is raw. Jung Man-sik is also great. The supporting cast is all-around strong, too. The film looks great. The setting is captured beautifully through the cinematography and camerawork. The special effects are hit-or-miss. There are a few moments where the computer visuals are stellar; then, there are those scenes where the computer graphics stick out like a sore thumb. The film was written and directed by Park Hoon-jung. Hoon-jung crafts a compelling and entertaining film focusing on characters while delivering thrills and suspense. There are some moments that could have been cut-out or sped up, though. The pacing is just a bit too inconsistent.

Overall, The Tiger: An Old Hunter's Tale is a great drama. It is a very effective and entertaining period drama thanks to its character-focused plot and powerful performances. It is a tale of two hunters – one who happens to be a tiger. The pacing may leave you wandering a few times, but it is otherwise worth your time.

Score: 8/10
Parental Guide: Strong violence and gore.

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