Review by Camden Ferrell
The Prey is the newest film from writer/director Jimmy Henderson (Jailbreak), and it had its premiere at the 2018 Busan International Film Festival. It also played at other festivals such as the 2019 Fantasia International Film Festival. While this movie doesn’t say much thematically, it is more than compensated by its consistent energy and violent action.
When a mission goes wrong, undercover cop Xin finds himself in an unusual prison in the Cambodian jungle. We soon learn that the warden sells prisoners as sport to rich hunters. This movie is loosely based on The Most Dangerous Game by Richard Connell. Even though this premise has been done many times, it’s still a decent set up with manageable stakes for some mindless fun.
From the first scene of the film, it’s clear that Henderson has a confident vision for this film. There is a very energetic style that is very prominent early on, and it sets the pace of the film very well. Most of the shortcomings of this movie are definitely overcome by its direction and stylistic choices that make the movie fun.
The acting in this movie is mostly decent. Newcomer Gu Shandwei plays Xin, and he does a great job of leading a lot of the action of this movie. Even though his delivery of dialogue is hit or miss, he does a fantastic job with all of the action and fight sequences, and he does it very convincingly. Unfortunately, it’s a great debut performance that is somewhat undermined by some of the more underwhelming acting of his co-stars.
The script is one of the film’s weakest links. Written by Henderson, Michael Hodgson, and Kai Miller, this script is fairly minimal. This works to the film’s benefit, but what little dialogue it has is still kind of clunky, and it is mostly for the sake of exposition before more entertaining action ensues. It’s not bad by any means, but it does pale in comparison to the other aspects of the film.
The film also doesn’t use its premise to say much thematically, but it rather lets the story work on a purely superficial level. This is a mixed bag since it trades any meaningful commentary for its mindlessly fun experience. It’s one of those action movies that doesn’t demand much of its viewers, and this will work for more casual enthusiasts of the genres, but those wanting something intellectually stimulating may be disappointed.
Regardless, this is a brief and highly entertaining film that shocks you with its violence and fights. It’s standard action fare, but it definitely succeeds as a highly enjoyable movie. It’s a perfect movie to watch with friends or by yourself if you’re looking for a night of thrills and bloody violence.
The Prey may not be groundbreaking or particularly thoughtful, but Henderson executes his vision to create a fun action film that many will enjoy. Its simple premise allows the action to prevail above all and make the movie what it is.
The Prey will have virtual screenings in select theaters starting August 21 before premiering on VOD August 25.