A prison yard fight is instigated, as a group of wealthy men look on. As the prisoners exchange blows, the men watching from above nod at some, shake their heads at others. The men they’ve chosen are hooded and driven out to a field. When the hoods come off, a lineup of shabby prisoners stand before a trio of men, each laden with weapons. It looks and feels like they’re standing before a firing squad, with one important difference: these wealthy men will allow the prisoners to make a break for it. How kind of them! The prisoners will scatter, each trying to reach the relative safety of the woods beyond the field. Very few will survive, but those who do survive only to become the prey.
These rich men have not paid the sadistic prison warden (Vithaya Pansringarm) to play at execution. They have paid to hunt – to hunt the most dangerous prey. The fact that the prisoners are running only makes the game more exciting to those with guns. The chase is on, and prisoners make the perfect prey – no one will miss them, no one will even notice they’re gone. Except: except that right now, 2 police officers have just stepped into the warden’s office. They are looking for their man Xin (Gu Shangwei). Xin is no average prisoner. He’s actually an undercover cop…who is now running for his life in a very one-sided fight that wasn’t part of the job description and sure as heck isn’t reflected in the pay.
Filmed in the jungle of Cambodia, you get a real sense of danger not just from the hunters but from the environment itself. Director Jimmy Henderson is only the most recent in a long and proud history of remaking The Most Dangerous Game but his film certainly has a local flavour that makes it worth seeing – especially if you love martial arts. Fight choreography blends kung-fu with bokator, Cambodia’s own close quarters martial art, to deliver satisfying bone-crunching action. The Prey may not be making any unique contributions to the genre, but it’s a solid effort nonetheless. Under Pol Pot’s regime, Cambodia’s culture was nearly wiped out completely, so it’s nice to see them rebounding, and it’s extra nice that for once the blood is being spilled only on screen.
The Prey is screening in virtual theatres in major cities including Los Angeles and New York, and is now available via VOD on platforms including iTunes, Amazon, Google Play, Xbox, and Vudu.