At The Movies: DC League Of Super-Pets and Hunt offer solid entertainment

Dwayne Johnson voices Krypto (right), Superman's pet dog, while Kevin Hart voices Ace the Boxer (left) in DC League Of Super-Pets. PHOTO: WARNER BROS

DC League Of Super-pets (PG13)

106 minutes, opens on Thursday, 3 stars

The story: Superman (voiced by John Krasinski) and the Justice League are captured by LexCorp's power-crazed telekinetic hairless guinea pig Lulu (Kate McKinnon).

Pets take over as both villains and heroes for this crime-fighting adventure.

And so, to the rescue is the Man of Steel's super-dog best friend Krypto (Dwayne Johnson), the Bark Kent to his Clark Kent, who enlists the help of Ace the hound (Kevin Hart), potbellied pig PB (Vanessa Bayer), myopic turtle Merton (Natasha Lyonne) and squirrel Chip (Diego Luna) from the Metropolis animal shelter.

DC League Of Super-Pets is super funny, what with Krypto's ragtag allies themselves gaining superpowers after exposure to kryptonite.

This animated DC Universe spin-off is partly an origin story of DC Comics' Legion Of Super-Pets from the 1960s.

The buddy comedy between Krypto from planet Krypton and cynical street-smart Ace - who later becomes Batman's dog - is voiced respectively by regular collaborators Johnson and Hart to great effect.

Among such perfectly pitched vocal performances, McKinnon is a riot as deranged Lulu, with Keanu Reeves' brooding Batman a close second.

Jared Stern co-wrote The Lego Batman Movie (2017), and his feature directing debut based on his screenplay is family fun that has comic lore in-jokes for the parents alongside cute character designs.

In the animals' abandonment, including Lulu's unrequited crush on her evil billionaire mentor Lex Luthor, it also has the pain of Toy Story (1995). All pets deserve a home because - and here is something to cherish - their love is unconditional.

Hot take: Pup, up and away! This superhero outing beats 2017's Justice League.

Hunt (NC16)

Lee Jung-jae (left) and Jung Woo-sung face off in espionage film Hunt. PHOTO: ENCORE FILMS

126 minutes, opens on Thursday, 4 stars

The story: In this espionage film set in South Korea's turbulent 1980s that marks Squid Game actor Lee Jung-jae's directorial debut, two men are locked in a high-stakes game of cat-and-mouse with each other. Highly respected agent Park Pyung-ho (Lee) is the foreign unit chief of the Korean Central Intelligence Agency while former military man Kim Jung-do (Jung Woo-sung) is its domestic unit chief.

When a North Korean mole known as Donglim leaks crucial information that threatens the safety of the country, the two chiefs set about investigating each other and, in the process, inch closer to a plot to assassinate South Korea's president.

The North-South Korea divide and the period of authoritarian rule under South Korea's fifth president Chun Doo-hwan has been the background for plenty of K-dramas and K-movies.

Hunt shows it is not without good reason.

North Korean spies with dreams of reuniting the Koreas, by force or otherwise; students fighting for freedom and democracy; corrupt government officials; betrayals and deaths - that part of history is a dramatic gold mine.

Lee - who directed, co-wrote and stars in the movie - uses that era's pervasive climate of distrust and fear to full effect in this action-packed tale that is so filled with twists and turns, it would be laughable if it was not so bombastic and exciting.

The high-speed car chases, gritty fight sequences and interrogation-with-torture scenes are all part of Hunt's excitement quotient - they are real, loud and downright painful to watch at points. But what gives the movie that nervous edge is the performances of Lee and Jung.

As Park, Lee delivers the weariness of someone who has dedicated his entire career to a cause and is afraid to think for a moment if it has been worth it. Jung, on the other hand, imbues his character with clear, steely-eyed purpose that makes him quietly intimidating.

As characters who hide their intentions, the duo hold their bodies with such tension in all their scenes, you wonder if they are about to have a heart attack.

And Lee has certainly leveraged his long career in entertainment to gather some of his A-list friends in bit parts for his first directorial feature.

Watch out for Hwang Jung-min - Lee's co-star in Deliver Us From Evil (2020) - who chews up the scenery with gusto in an unforgettable cameo that lasts less than five minutes. And see if you can spot Kingdom's (2019 to present) Ju Ji-hoon pop up in the background too.

Hot take: Trust the South Koreans to do an espionage tale well.

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