The year is 1925 and Imperial Japanese army in South Korea is focused on one thing only - to catch the infamous tiger Dae-ho - the King of the mountain. As all their efforts are in vain, they ask for help the hunter Mun-duk, unaware of his special relationship with the animal. When Mun-Duk refuses, Japanese find a way to apply pressure. It's not before long that things get out of control and a tragedy strikes at the hearts of both - the animal and the man.
Director Park Hoon-Jung is thriving on period action drama, heavy with CGI effects, which until recently was impossible in small Korean market. Balancing visual spectacle with deep and meaningful drama, he gives us a dark fairy tale - a memorable story on a touching subject. He carefully recreates the period piece with masterful attention to detail, but the real winner here is nature. The mountains and the forests of South Korea are on display with colourful season change, giving us a perfect impression of the landscape and creating a stage for the high drama.
Choi Min-Shik as the Hunter Mun-Duk gives us a father and a man of nature. Deeply aware and understanding of his surroundings, he is not coping very well with the changes inflicted on his life by humans. His slow transformation from the medicine collector to a fearless hunter is heartbreaking as he is pushed to the limit of his human and spiritual strength. The villains of the film, however, are nothing more than caricatures and a food to the tiger - they are moving the plot forward, but it is special relationship between the tiger and the man that is the focus of the film.
Heavily promoting the message that nature cannot be only taken from, the movie dwells on the subjects of killing and compassion. Delivering high on action and melodrama the film seems to achieve what it planned to do, giving us a sad but hopeful ending, promising that no matter what, the man and nature are one.