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Lee Jung-Jae Placed Tight Constraints On The Action Sequences In Hunt - Exclusive

With his new film "Hunt," "Squid Game" star Lee Jung-jae has taken on a dramatic new set of roles: director and co-writer. The film is a spy thriller set in South Korea, four years after the real-life crisis of the assassination of the dictator Park Chung-hee by his own intelligence agency chief. In the film, a new and failed assassination attempt brings tensions to a head, while word of a mole within the Korean Central Intelligence Agency sets all parties on edge, not knowing who to trust. In addition to directing the tense film, Lee Jung-jae stars as KCIA Foreign Unit chief Park Pyong-ho, a respected agent who has to get to the bottom of the crisis while being under heavy scrutiny himself.

Interesting action sequences abound in "Hunt," but it's way more of a smart, twisty political thriller than an action-heavy outing. In a new exclusive interview with Looper, the multi-hyphenate star discussed the steps he took to carefully shape the direction of the narrative. His precise planning meant that the action sequences, stunningly executed in their own right with choreographer Heo Myeong-haeng ("Train to Busan"), were carefully balanced to preserve Lee Jung-jae's vision for the film's appropriate tone and genre.

Making sure Hunt is an espionage thriller first and foremost

In the interview, Lee Jung-jae highlighted that he worked with Heo Myeong-haeng to detail the elements and choreography of the various scenes. "Initially, when we were writing the script, the action lines actually explained all of these action sequences in a lot of detail," Lee Jung-jae said. He gave an example of the film's Tokyo hotel scene, where "the action lines described where the agents were standing, where the car was starting from, where it's going to stop" — all the key components of the sequence precisely mapped out.

While "Hunt" is the filmmaker's directorial debut, his experience as a veteran star aided his understanding of what was possible from the scene in question. "All of this was described in a lot of detail in the script," he clarified, "and this came from the fact that I've already worked on set as an actor for 30-plus years, so I had an idea of whether all of this would be possible or not in a single location."

One of his key conversations with Heo Myeong-haeng was centered around the length of the action sequences in question. "Once I began my conversations with the stunt coordinator, the first thing I mentioned [was] that I want[ed] the action sequences to be short," he noted, "because if the action sequences are too long, then it's no longer an espionage movie; it'll be an action film." It was important to the filmmaker to maintain that balance, as he "wanted to be faithful to that espionage genre but still include those action sequences" — all intense and engaging moments in the film. 

"Hunt" is available in theaters and on demand.