The Prey Movie Review

Written by Shane D. Keene

Released by Dark Star Pictures

the prey poster large

Directed by Jimmy Henderson
Written by Jimmy Henderson, Michael Hodgson, Kai Miller
2018, 90 minutes, Not Rated

Starring:Gu Shangwei as Xin
Vithaya Pansringarm as The Warden
Nophand Boonyai as Ti
Dy Sonita as Detective Ly

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So, here’s the thing: We’ve all seen or read this story before. Some of us many times because it’s been told a time or two-hundred. Sounds like I’m dissing it, but I most definitely am not. Because it’s a horse that’s been beaten nearly to death, but in The Prey, writer/director Jimmy Henderson (Jailbreak, 2017) breathes fresh, vital life back into it. The premise, rich humans hunting less fortunate ones for sport, is simple but, in this case, the execution is exemplary of a great action flick and a huge reason why Asia is kicking our asses in that arena.

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Xin, played more than passably by newcomer Gu Shangwei, is an undercover cop. Mistakenly arrested in a police raid and shipped off to a remote prison, he is selected by the evil Warden, Vithaya Pansringarm, to take part in the bloodsport along with several other unarmed prisoners. And if you think you’re starting to see some action movie archetypes in there, you’re correct. The hero figure, the master villain, and the unhinged killer, Ti (Nophand Boonyai). Oh, and also supermodel actress Dy Sonita, who seems to play no real role other than to be a supermodel actress portraying a mother figure for an orphaned boy for five minutes’ worth of film. But, while it’s true that’s a nearly unforgivable flaw in the production, it doesn’t detract from it much, if at all.

Because that’s what martial arts and action movies do, and you get the impression Henderson is riffing on those stereotypes intentionally and with purpose, that being to unapologetically embrace the trope and see if you can polish it until it bleeds. And this one definitely does. In splashes of splattery red, Xin fights his way through the jungle, doing what the hero type does, kicking ass and making blood happen. It’s a lot more than just brutal, though. It’s also visually and sonically exceptional, with a pitch-perfect soundtrack and outstanding lighting and color effects. Henderson is like the anti-Argento in that he prefers, for the most part, to tone them down and use them to good effect to enhance his scenes, where Dario used darkness but also relied heavily on vivid, shocking color.

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The thing is, for all its foibles and shortcomings, it’s all in good fun and it’s and it’s very well done. And with this class, if any gold stars are to be handed out, give them all to veteran Vithaya Pansringarm. Known for films like Only God Forgives and The Last Executioner, he delivers a delightful, gleefully embraced performance that demonstrates the dedication and sheer versatility of his talents. From the dour, serious Chavoret in The Last Executioner to the cleverly performed, classic villain in The Prey, he is, if not always convincing, at least always enjoyable in everything he plays in. Watching his enjoyment of the part is almost worth the price of admission by itself. But it’s not the only thing and when it all wrapped up, this reviewer had nothing notable to complain about. Give it a watch, you’ll dig it.

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Movie: 4 Star Rating Cover

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