What is it about?

An ex-special agent Tae-sik Cha’s only connection to the rest of the world is a little girl, So-mi, who lives nearby. Her mother, Hyo-jeong smuggles drugs from a drug trafficking organization and entrusts Tae-sik with the product, without letting him know. The traffickers find out about her smuggling and kidnap both Hyo-jeong and So-mi.

The gang promises to release them if Tae-sik makes a delivery for them, however it is actually a larger plot to eliminate a rival drug ring leader. When Hyo-jeong’s disemboweled body is discovered, Tae-sik realizes that So-mi’s life may also be in danger.

Tae-sik becomes enraged at the prospect that So-mi may already be dead and prepares for a battle, putting his own life at risk.

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Is it any good?

So in truth there really is nothing truly unique or original about the plot but given how difficult it seems these days for film makers to really break from the mould its not at all surprising.

What we have here is essentially a Korean version of The Denzel Washington Film ‘Man on Fire’ … but better!

Yeah that’s right – in my opinion ‘Man From Nowhere’ is better than the already excellent ‘Man on Fire’.

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‘Man From Nowhere’ stands out for various reasons but none more prominent than the ‘new’ Won Bin!

Previously known for playing very soft and fragile characters (Mother, Brotherhood), Won really does shine in this new harder role, a role which would usually belong in the domain of Korean megastar Lee Byung-hun (‘Bittersweet life’, ‘Iris’, ‘I Saw the Devil‘) .

Won brings incredible believability to the film, at times saying very little, yet able to convey emotion with just a look, Won rightly deserved the best actor awards at the recent Grand Bell and Korean Film Award events earlier in 2010.

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Similarly Kim Sae-Ron (Somi) is excellent in her role (in what I believe is her first feature length picture). Whilst she, in comparison as very little screen time she’s very much a joy to watch and even provides some of the films few humorous moments.

Another element of Kim’s acting which really impressed me turned out to be the highly emotional scenes. At times in films the whole emotion of a scene can be completely destroyed when usually the younger actors overplay the emotion and force it onto the screen.

With Kim its all very subtle and believable and as with Won there are times when she says very little yet the full extent of her emotion is fully understood.

Action!

Of yes!! Did I mention this was a action movie! Think ‘Bourne Identity’ and you’ve pretty much summed up the type of hand to hand action to expect from this movie. You can even be forgiven for thinking that some fight scenes were copied straight from a multitude of fight scenes in the ‘Bourne trilogy’.

With Man from Nowhere the fight scenes just feel some much better , huge credit goes to the camera crew for this one as they are on point at every possible moment during the fight scenes so you don’t miss a thing (unlike the ‘shaky’ cam method of Bourne).

In particular a huge round of applause for the final fight sequence, very reminiscent of the final scenes in ‘Bittersweet Life’, I had to watch the scene more than once to truly appreciate the work that went into it. Bravo!

Kim He-won who plays the main gangster boss ‘Man-Seok’ is also great. I Really wish he had the opportunity to shine more in the films have seen him in. There is a lot of unlocked talent there waiting for be unleashed!

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But alas its not all great with ‘Man from Nowhere’, there is a flip side to everything I’m afraid and whilst there are only a few negatives to take away from ‘Man from nowhere’ its still very much a blotch which stops this film from turning from great to a True Korean Classic.

Thanayong WongTrakul

Thanayong WongTrakul (plays Tae’s main adversary in the film and almost his equal)

I have nothing against Thanayong at all, but in particular I do have something against foreign language films which for some reason or another find the need to throw in English dialogue.

It just never works and for me completely ruins any scene in which this happens. Sadly where this does occur is a very important scene in the movie. RUINED!

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But in saying that,Thanayong is a key character in the film and the face off with Tae in the night club… Brilliant!
(I loved the final stare off… and so will you !)

Man On Fire - I loved the final stare offClick To Tweet

Tae’s background story.
I will not go much into this as I do not really want to spoil the movie. But honestly … it just does not work for me, there just is no connect whatsoever between what happened in the past to the reason why he runs a pawn shop alone .

Tae is a strong enough actor to bring enough emotion to a film without the need for the flashback. Whilst in some ways its needed to fully round off some elements of the story, I just felt as though it was being pushed down my throat. The movie is called ‘The Man from Nowhere’… so why tell us anything about his past.

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Leave it up to the audience to piece it together. I really believe that if the audience were allowed to work out who Tae really was throughout the movie we would have been treated to a stronger overall film.

Conclusion

Director Lee Jeong-beom as done a great job here. Using ideas from previously successful movies and fusing them together can be a difficult job , but he’s really pulled it off. The sum of all parts is greater than their originals.

Fans of any of the aforementioned movies will really enjoy ‘The Man from Nowhere’, Won Bin fans will be shocked (in a good way) at his ability to take on a more hardcore role. And movie fans in general will come away from this film thoroughly enjoyed!

Despite the tough competition, 'The Man from Nowhere' just comes out on top to be our pick for the best Korean film of 2010.Click To Tweet

Despite the tough competition, ‘The Man from Nowhere’ just comes out on top to be our pick for the best Korean film of 2010.

P.S I really do hope that this is not the last time we see Won Bin in this type of role!

Note

There is now an Indian adaptation of 'Man From Nowhere' called ' Rocky Handsome' opinions ?Click To Tweet

Trailer

 

Man From Nowhere is now available to stream via NetFlix

14 COMMENTS

  1. The backstory with the character is completely necessary, so we know he’s not just some weirdo creep with a fondness for little girls. Also, it explains why he’s so willing to do whatever it takes, risk everything to protect this little girl and save the “ants” — unwanted children who are used as slaves by organized crime. And these fights are not ripped off from anywhere — they were brilliant, crisp, and original. Moves are moves, and this style I think originated in or near Korea, so other movies may be the ones ripping it off. I know I’ve never seen anything quite like it.

    I was interested to learn that in Korea, males (not sure about females) are required to do 2 years of mandatory military service, so this actor was trained in fighting skills for real combat use, not just to look pretty and convincing in a movie. That accounts for a lot of the credibility. His spare, efficient movements, his assessments of the targets, the mindless, complete focus on the task at hand, all make his fights the most believable I’ve ever seen.

    The directing is awesome, right down to minute touches that most directors wouldn’t even think about. In the final part of the final fight, when Cha is about to fire the gun for the last time, his head is angled so his eyes reflect the low-ceiling lights in the underground car park, making him look avid and almost demonic. When it’s finally over, he sinks back just a little, and changes the angle of his head slightly, and the reflection is lost — as if the light has been extinguished in his soul. For a few moments, it looks as if his eyes have gone completely black, no iris or eye-white at all! It was subtle, and breath-taking, an indication that he doesn’t know what to do anymore. Truefeather77

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