For most American viewers, Netflix’s Korean import series Squid Game was probably an introduction to Lee Jung-jae, who plays the hapless series protagonist, and one of the more tragic victims of its lethal children’s games. But Lee has been a high-profile star (and sought-after fashion model) in Korea for decades, and with the new action-driven spy thriller Hunt, he makes the leap to film director as well.
Lee co-stars in Hunt as the head of foreign operations for Korea’s Central Intelligence Agency, opposite Jung Woo-sung as the head of domestic operations. When a series of crucial intelligence leaks threatens South Korea’s president, the two agencies learn that there’s a high-powered, deep-cover mole somewhere within the KCIA. Both men investigate, but as their effort heats up, it also turns into a profoundly personal feud, as they both try to uncover and expose each other as possible North Korean spies.
The film, which premiered at the 2022 Cannes International Film Festival, is a sprawling but intense action film that balances spy-agency intrigue with shootouts and mass combat. As the dueling leaders weaponize their entire agencies against each other, sending hordes of agents into shootouts and chases in their attempts to be the first to reach any new information or useful asset. It’s blockbuster-level filmmaking, and the first trailer for the film shows off some of Lee’s directorial skills in terms of staging street warfare and mass faceoffs.
Hunt will premiere in theaters and on VOD on Dec. 2.