The Prey (2018)

Posted in Reviews by - September 14, 2019
The Prey (2018)

Considering the limitations of putting an action movie together in Cambodia – where fight filmmaking is still very much in its infancy – it is nothing short of amazing that Italian-born writer-director Jimmy Henderson can even get his films made, let alone have them looking so good. With this violent cat-and-mouse tale – which borrows thematically from films like Hard Target, First Blood and Predator – Henderson brings his own flair to a somewhat predictable set-up, running wild in the luscious greens of a Cambodian jungle. But it’s no breath of fresh air; his use of close-up, thudding sound design, and unstable characters make the expansive setting just as claustrophobic as the confines of his previous, prison-set martial arts movie, Jailbreak. Where Jailbreak made allocations for lightness, moments of levity in The Prey are tinged with a greater menace. The absence of Jailbreak star, Jean-Paul Ly – who instead acts as the film’s action director – might go some way to explaining why there is precious little hand-to-hand combat in the film, with the hunters and hunted trading bullets rather than blows. It’s a move which might leave some fans of Jailbreak‘s excellent, non-stop fight scenes a little bit lost. This also has more of a commercial, pan-Asian flavour, being a multilingual co-production between Cambodia, Thailand and China, starring Chinese newcomer, Gu Shang-wei. He plays an undercover cop who winds up being arrested, thrown in a corrupt Cambodian jail (another one?), and then used as prey for rich folk to get their kicks. The film’s internationalism seems to give the movie more clout, and undoubtedly bigger returns in foreign territories, but, in reality, it’s nothing you haven’t seen before. Henderson, however, is a taut, accomplished director of genre, and here is yet further evidence of his talent.

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