review by Bobby Blakey
The Asian film market delivers some of the more interesting films in the industry taking on topics at times that don’t seem like they may be all that interesting, but often offer up more than you expect. The latest, The Tiger comes from South Korea and looks to tell a story of man vs beast, but does it offer up that something special that is expected from the foreign film market or will it be a hunt not worth heading out on?
The Tiger follows Chun Man-duk, who was once a well-known top shooter in all of Korea, who no longer hunts and lives in a hut in Mt. Jirisan with his teenage son, Seok. Meanwhile, the village is astir due to the Japanese soldiers' arrival to find the great tiger, the last living tiger in Korea that is also known as the feared and respected Mountain Lord of Mt. Jirisan. Gu-kyung, head of the Korean hunters under the Japanese army, sets out on a heated hunt after the great tiger. Fascinated with tiger skins, Japanese dignitary Maejono is determined to get his hands on the great tiger before his return home, and pushes the Japanese soldiers and Korean hunters at Mt. Jirisan. When no trace of the great tiger can be found, Gu-kyung and Ryu, an officer of the Japanese army, try to bring Man-duk in on the hunt as their last resort. This is an amazing film both in story and visually. The idea seems pretty simple, but there are so many layers to the story and direction that it ended up being a great surprise.
There are so many things in play here that all surround the focus of this tiger that you would think it would get convoluted but thanks to clever structure it works to tell a couple of stories at the same time while bringing them together perfectly as it moves forward. The focus of the hunt is the main focus to the film, but it also serves as the catalyst of the old hunter’s story and offered up some interesting unexpected twists. It is clear at times that they used CGI to bring the tiger to life and outside of a couple of moments it looks stunning. They made sure to keep realism to the tiger, but still made it a character all his own, complete with some emotional moments and sheer rage. There is some great bloody action here when the tiger faces off against the varying people that are taking him on. While most of the blood is CGI it still gets the point across. They have a couple of pretty over top moments in how the tiger literally destroys people, but you will find yourself rooting for the tiger at the hands of some of the lesser liked individuals on the hunt.
In the end this is an excellent movie that offers up not only a ton of violent flesh ripping action between man and beast, but a heart breaking story loss and redemption that will surely pull at your heart strings in numerous ways. Please note that you do have to read subtitles in the film, but it is always better that way to be able to feel the real performance coming from the actors as opposed to the often watered down version of the voice overs. There are no special features to speak of, but the film alone is worth the purchase. Join the hunt and grab your copy of The Tiger available now on Blu-ray and DVD from Well Go USA.