If you had a pound for every slashed jugular and staved-in cranium in this Korean horror-thriller, you would probably have more than the film’s entire budget. This seems to have been mostly spent on supplies of fake blood almost copious enough to run the sprinkler system on Frontier Titan, the 58,000-tonne cargo ship travelling between the Philippines and South Korea in Kim Hong-sun’s film.
Forget Con Air; this is Con Sea, with bruiser cop Seok-woo (Park Ho-san) in charge of escorting a dirty dozen or so fugitives back to the motherland. First among evils is Jong-doo (Seo In-guk), a rapist with boyband looks and tattoos up to his jawline, who earns an early beating from Seok-woo after threatening his daughter. It doesn’t take a doctorate in whup-ass studies to guess that the criminals don’t stay in handcuffs for long. But – unbeknown to all but the doctor who keeps sneaking down to the basement – they are not Frontier Titan’s only cargo. Suffice it to say that transporting this thing on the same ship as Korea’s most wanted is the action-movie equivalent of that meme about the nuclear power plant and the spider farm being next to each other.
Kim sets up the early square-offs and hijacking with the kind of Bruckheimerian bombast that is becoming a lost art in Hollywood. He makes decent use of the ship’s layout – though spreading the mayhem around a disaster-movie-style ensemble, rather than a single protagonist, means the tension is somewhat diffused. The real main character is gratuitous carnage, already amply supplied by the desperadoes before the third party gets involved. If you’ve ever wanted to see a man beaten to death with his own arm, you’ve come to the right place.
The slaughter does start to get monotonous, but the film rallies in its final third as adversaries arrive capable of standing up to the basement boy, including seemingly innocuous-looking felon Do-il (Jang Dong-yoon), and Kim produces a set of pulpy late revelations. By then Die Hard-style precision staging has long since given way to pure Splatterhouse – but what B-movie relish it has.
• Project Wolf Hunting is available on the Icon Film Channel on 30 January and in UK cinemas on 3 March.