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The Man from Nowhere

A movie directed by Jeong-beom Lee

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An Awesome Action Film That Almost Came From "Nowhere"!!

  • Apr 28, 2011
Rating:
+5
Would you like to know what was the highest-grossing film in South Korea in 2010? Made such a huge impact that it even shattered the records set by Hollywood blockbusters during that year? It was director Lee Jeong-Beom’s “The Man From Nowhere” that stars Won Bin (Mother) and was received with high critical acclaim all over Asia and Europe. This film reminded me of the many reasons why I got into Korean Cinema a few years ago and it is a wonderfully awesome action film that remembers that human action heroes always hit a home run.

Cha Tae-Sik (Won Bin) is a man who enjoys an uneventful life running a pawn shop in an old dilapidated tenement in a Korean town. He likes to keep a low profile, keeping thing casual and his only real friendship (if somewhat odd) is one with a small girl named Soo-Mi (Kim Sae-Ron) who lives nearby. However, So-mi’s mom (Kim Hyo-Seo) is a junkie and gets mixed up with the wrong people; so one day her dealings catches up to her as trouble comes knocking at their doorstep. Tae-Sik defends himself and quickly dispatches two of the thugs leaving them quite impressed. Now, Tae-Sik has become involved in a the drug dealings of the Man-Seok and Jung-Seok, as they decide to use him as a messenger in exchange for So-mi’s life. With the police after him after the murder of a certain Mr. Oh, Tae-Sik must do what he can to track down the drug-dealings and rescue So-mi. But just who is Tae-Sik….where did he get his skills that put both thugs and cops to shame?





At first impression, “The Man From Nowhere” seems to borrow elements from “The Professional” (with Jean Reno) but then it quickly supersedes that small similarity. What the direction and the script does extremely well is the way it seemed to take its time to develop its plot and characters. From the supporting characters, to the villains and to the two protagonists, Lee makes them breathe as if they have lives of their own. Each glimpse into their lives have a purpose, each scene has a meaning and he remembers to give them a personality; however brief their screen time may be. Once he manages to draw you into its story, Lee then begins to get running room and develop steam the more you get into the film. Once he picks up momentum, Lee never stops and just enthralls the viewer with nicely-placed action sequences, heroic drama and realistic fight choreography.

The characters in “The Man From Nowhere” are easy to relate to; it is true that some supporting characters carry clichés and stereotypes, but it Lee carefully makes them exactly what he intended them to be. So-Mi is a kid (marvelously portrayed by Kim Sae-Ron) and she is easily the most likable of the bunch; one look at her and you will easily be taken in by her angelic eyes. The bad guys are despicably bad, they are evil and ruthless; they seem to do every dirty business just for the hell of it. From drugs and black-marketing human organs, the two brothers (played by Kim Hee-Won and Kim Sung-Oh) display a manic behavior that may seem to make them a tad cartoonish, but it is what makes them creepy in their own way. Kids, junkies and hookers play a part in their game and this is what makes the characters and the plot feed off each other to reach perfection. Lee never forgets to involve the cops and they aren’t stupid; the two detectives are right in the middle of everything as their investigations play a significance to the development of the enigma that is Tae-Sik. There is also a very nice surprise that concerns a certain assassin.





It was wonderful for the direction to play the Tae-Sik character as an enigma as long as it could. I admit, that the mystery of his considerable skills came as no surprise; but I suppose it was a way to keep things grounded and real. What I liked about the screenplay is the manner that it remembers to inject a dramatic effect to all his “bad-assery”. Tae-Sik is human and he has his issues, and in a way, his relationship with So-Mi may be the only thing that gives him reason to move on. It was nice for the direction to not reveal everything until the last opportune moment; it was proof of Lee’s commitment to a methodical style that took its time. The film also has its small share of philosophical moments ala- “A Bittersweet Life” and it succeeds in giving an answer as to how, what and why Tae-Sik is the way he was. Not to say that "The Man From Nowhere" is all about action and drama, Lee remembers to inject some grim humor amid all the bloody encounters and mayhem.

The film has quite a good number of nicely placed action sequences. The direction keeps things moving at a very brisk pace. From the beginning credits to the police station to the encounters with the assassin called Ramrowan (Thanayong Wongtrakul) up to the final showdown, the direction manages to sustain my attention as there were times that I may have forgotten to breathe. The climactic final encounter consists of gunfights, some martial arts moves and knife-play; all were brilliantly choreographed and realistically staged. The film is very bloody, and quite graphic in its display of violence; but it remembers to keep things restrained on some areas as I was glad some graphic brutality was only hinted at (there are graphic images and nudity). The film is also very polished and as with most Korean movies, the cinematography by Lee Tae-Yoon is excellent. The use of shadows and the way the some scenes were bright exuded the needed mood and tone. Lee also makes use of some nifty editing trickery to make the film look very cool.





Lee Jeong-Beom’s “The Man From Nowhere” is a fine example as to how action movies should be made. Stylish, realistic and has a heart, the film remembers that action heroes are human. We all need something in our lives and there are things worth fighting for. The film is one thrilling action masterpiece and I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again; whoever said that Korean/Asian directors cannot keep up with the big shots of Hollywood deserve a “spider finger jab” to the face.

“Live For Today and Not For Tomorrow….”
“The Past is History, the Future a Mystery, and Today is a Gift….which is why it is called the ‘Present’.”

Highest Possible Recommendation!! [5- Out of 5 Stars]

Note: Please watch this in the original TRI-lingual Langauge track with the English subtitles as it preserves the thought, mood and tone. The English dub is inaccurate.
 


An AWESOME Action Film That Hardly Came From An AWESOME Action Film That Hardly Came From An AWESOME Action Film That Hardly Came From An AWESOME Action Film That Hardly Came From An AWESOME Action Film That Hardly Came From An AWESOME Action Film That Hardly Came From An AWESOME Action Film That Hardly Came From

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May 09, 2011
Sounds like a really good film, William! I've marked it on my TBW list, lol. Hopefully, I will get to see this one sooner rather than later. Thanks for the recommendation!
May 09, 2011
Thanks for the read, Adri! I think you will enjoy it, it is rare when I give a 5 to a film (usually means it has become a fave) and I am a sucker for a film with a heart and certain intricacies in themes. You will enjoy it. =)
May 10, 2011
Yeah, I've noticed that you don't give out the +5 very regularly, which is why this film is of particular interest to me. :)
May 12, 2011
I dropped another review for a Korean flick.... =)
May 18, 2011
Cools!
 
April 29, 2011
Another one of your favorite eh? Haven't got the chance to go check new movies. Very busy with the move :)
April 29, 2011
O_O no problem...we are watching...O_O @_@ LOL!!
April 29, 2011
you feeling dizzy yet because of the staring here? LOL!!
May 01, 2011
I bet you have so much stuff to pack!
May 02, 2011
Quite a bit! I can't believe how much I have considering I've only been here for less than 2 years!
May 02, 2011
wow!! I would hate to imagine how much you would have to pack if you stayed 10 years LOL!! lot of heavy stuff?
May 03, 2011
I do not stay at a place for more than 3 years, let alone 10 years! Moving helps you to spring clean, which I thought is great!
 
April 28, 2011
Ahh, I was going to watch this with my boyfriend the other night, but then I showed him a trailer of it and even I was convinced to think twice because of how misleading the trailer was. I really do hate purely action films because they tend to be so dilute and uninspiring, but it seems like there's too much evidence to point to the contrary in this film's case. Okay! It's back on the 'to-watch' list! Thanks for the great review!
April 28, 2011
I know what you mean; this had enough heart and drama to overcome whatever weaknesses it may have, (there are very little). I like it when an action hero is actually fighting for something and not just to be cool or anything. That trailer is indeed misleading in some ways. Thank you for the read, and I hope you enjoy it. I always thought that Asian movies have a very low readership in the site (that I wondered if I should keep reviewing them here), but now, I think I may have been mistaken, and 'sides, I like to review them, they are fun!. :)
 
April 28, 2011
This looks awesome. How much you want to bet there will be a terrible American remake in the next year or so?
OO
___
April 28, 2011
a remake would be a strong probability. I was surprised that they haven't began filming the remakes to Oldboy and A Bittersweet Life. Hope they wised up. You will like this, the shots look similar to a Michael Mann film. O_O
April 28, 2011
Looks a little like Nolan's films too with all the dark shots and the slightly off-kilter angles.
OO
___
April 28, 2011
you may have a point there, the off-kilter angles were definitely there. O_O
April 28, 2011
The lighting and tonalities remind me a bit of the Wachowskis' early work too.
OO
___
April 28, 2011
What were their other works before "The Matrix"?

April 28, 2011
Bound... a lesbian neo-noir thriller.
By the way, Orlok eyes beat all. I win.
April 28, 2011
not even Orlok can defeat a sultry vampire....Lilith!!

April 28, 2011
That's not Lilith, that's just some scratched and bruised goth chick.
April 28, 2011
teddy bear beats Orlok anytime anyway LOL!!
April 28, 2011
you get the feeling that we are wwaaayyy past silliness? LOL!!
April 28, 2011
You might, but I'm taking this seriously and teddy bears are wussies.
OO
___
April 28, 2011
Ok, now I am scared O_O
April 28, 2011
where the heck is Aerin?!
April 28, 2011
4 eyes beat 2!
April 28, 2011
nothing beats compound eyes LOL!

April 28, 2011
Humanoid eyes only. Insects are cheating.
April 28, 2011
April 28, 2011
those colors are ssoo bright!! LOL
April 28, 2011
I win, I win!
April 28, 2011
not yet...I am just at work. LOL!!
April 28, 2011
The 8 eyes of Orlok are unbeatable and if worse comes to worst I can show you my evil eye look.
April 29, 2011
April 29, 2011
Eh, some people just like to keep fighting a losing battle. Sharks still aren't humanoid.
April 29, 2011
I didn't agree to no such 'humanoid' rule...LOL!!
April 29, 2011
Okay, then I still win!
April 29, 2011
i wasn't going to do this but you forced my hand....LOL!!

View Image
April 29, 2011
I still win, you bastard. LOL!
April 29, 2011

woopak is unbeatable! LOL!!

April 29, 2011
Okay, that's just being silly now.
April 29, 2011
LMAO!!
 
April 28, 2011
I almost reviewed this one myself, EXCELLENT work WP.
April 28, 2011
you should join me with a review. A lesser known movie in the U.S. like this deserves more 'word of mouth'...
 
1
More The Man from Nowhere reviews
review by . April 13, 2011
South Korea’s mega-popular THE MAN FROM NOWHERE was successful for very good reasons, so many that there’s no way I could touch upon all of them in a single review.  Suffice it to say that it’s an action picture whose formula is broad enough to appeal to men (once the action starts, there’s never a dull moment), women (there’s a strong through-line about caring for society’s lost children), male teens (who wouldn’t want to be as coolly quiet as the …
review by . March 01, 2011
If Kill Bill had more sophistication and class, if The Professional had a tear jerker ending... it would be The Man From Nowhere.    The story is simple, a man left with nothing enduring his solitude has no interest in caring for anyone but himself. He just so happens to be ex-special forces. Billed as Korea's top billing film of 2010 and rated R for intense violence and implied gruesome acts, it's considered a Action-Thriller. The Man …
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William ()
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Please "Like" Film and Movies and Keep the Economy strong....LOL!!      My Interests: Movies, Anime, History, Martial Arts, Comics, Entertainment,Cooking, Things I don't … more
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Director: Jeong-beom Lee
Genre: Action, Crime, Thriller
Release Date: 5 August 2010 (South Korea)
MPAA Rating: R
Screen Writer: Jeong-beom Lee
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