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The Man from Nowhere
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Tae-shik is an ex-special agent whose tragic past has made him distance himself from the world. He now lives in solitude and runs a small pawnshop. The only people he now sees are the few pawnshop customers and So-mi (Kim Sae-Ron), the young girl who lives next door. So-mi has also been neglected by the world and as she and Tae-shik begin to spend more time together, the two gradually open themselves to one another and become friends. Then one day, So-mi suddenly disappears. So-mi s mother becomes involved in a major crime causing both her and So-mi to get kidnapped. Tae-shik is drawn back out into the world in a frantic search for So-mi s whereabouts. In order to save So-mi, his one and only friend in this world, Tae-shik makes a certain arrangement with the crime mob. While So-mi is still nowhere to be found, the police begin to chase after Tae-shik. With the police and the underground mob close on his tail, Tae-shik continues his frantic search for So-mi and his hidden past slowly becomes revealed...
"Slick, Stylish, and Gut Wrenching Thriller" --Twitch
"A Sweet Ass Flick....Truly Impressive" --Film School Rejects
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Won Bin stars as Cha Tae-sik, a lonesome pawn shop owner who isn’t very good with communication skills and mostly stays to himself. His only friend and confidant is a little girl who lives next door to him named So-mi. After So-mi’s mother steals drugs from a organized crime syndicate, they come after her. The only problem is that the drugs she stole are in a camera bag that she pawns to Tae-sik in an attempt to hide them. When the gangsters find out her location they torture her, kidnap So-mi, and confront Tae-sik. Tae-sik hands them the camera bag, thinking that So-mi will be freed, but they run off before he can get to her. This sets off a chain of events leading Tae-sik deeper into his mysterious past for the sake of saving So-mi.
When I first read what the movie was about, I’ll be honest, It did not intrigue me. But I thought “Well, what the heck” and brought it anyway. I was pleasantly surprised. First, let’s go over the acting. Won Bin gives a glorious performance here that’s full of subtlety. Even though he doesn’t have the best social skills, this character is still human and Won Bin perfectly conveys Tae-sik’s thoughts without saying them. Kim Sae-ron is So-mi and while many child actors can’t pull off a convincing performance, this girl needs an Oscar. She brings life into a movie full of tense emotions and becomes the viewer’s only feeling of peace in the beginning. Yet she also retains a sense of maturity that her character has. This little girl is bluntly put – freaking awesome. There are other roles in this movie that are acted well but nobody’s performance holds a candle to Won Bin’s and Kim Sae-ron’s in my opinion.
Secondly, let’s talk about how the film looks. I love this film’s director Lee Jeong -beom and his style in this movie. It’s shot well with fast pacing then slow pacing that mix together and fit in nicely with the tone of the story. It’s also very dark, with blue and grey overtones throughout the movie that puts an exclamation mark on the darkness of Tae-sik’s world. The lightest colors shown in the movie are shown when So-mi is there and it feels like it was filmed inside of Tae-sik’s brain, where So-mi is his only peace.
I now would like to take a more in depth look at Tae-sik’s and So-mi’s relationship. Is the bond between them in the parental sense? Is it friendship? Are they mentors to one another? I think it’s all three. So-mi thinks of Tae-sik as her real guardian as her mother isn’t much of one. But she also thinks of him as a friend and teacher. You can take this also and flip it as I think Tae-sik feels the same way.
Now, let’s talk action. This film rocks when it comes to adrenaline. It’s full of knife fights, shootouts, chase scenes, fists flying….You get the picture. Every scene looks painful and when someone is hurt, they bleed. I mentioned knife fights a second ago and this movie is well known for it’s climatic knife fight which go’s on for minutes. The stunts are done well and everything actually seems believable in the end which is unique in my experience with action films.
So for as much as I have praised this movie, are there any flaws? Yes. Every movie has flaws. But this one has almost none to me. It’s unique in it’s execution and try’s to go outside of the cookie cutter action flick. It’s dark and tense but also somewhat heartwarming. It features great acting and stellar directing. All in all, The Man From Nowhere does not disappoint.
Taken from my website : [...]
The film starts off brisk and even at a runtime of almost two hours, Ajusshi/The Man From Nowhere moves quickly through punch after punch. Won Bin helps make the two hours pass by quickly with his reserved portrayal of a lonely man quietly holding in his painful past. You immediately connect with him and with his friendship with neighbor, the little So Mi. Kim Sae Ron is a fresh little talent that also equally gets you to care about her character right off the bat.
The film is definitely not for the faint of heart. It has a dark, grimy, seedy backdrop of the drug and human trade in Asia. The rage and vengeance that grows in Tae-sik as the movie rolls along adds even more to that foreboding and often bloody atmosphere. But that’s what makes the unexpected heart and sincerity all the more, well, unexpected.
You’ve got to have a deft hand to be able to balance what would appear to be such contrasting themes, to have such a hopeful and touching undercurrent run through a film set in the midst of drugs and violence. But writer and director Lee Jeong-beom does just that. The excellent cinematography, most especially in a scene where the camera is step by step with Tae-sik as he jumps out of a window and lands right on the ground below, resonates to give the film its gritty essence. An excellently shot and well choreographed knife fight is also a highlight (and the bloodiest) of the film.
Ajusshi/The Man From Nowhere has thrilling chases, exciting fight and action scenes, juicy and affecting twists and that heart-tugging sincerity that just explodes at you in the film’s final scenes.
It only takes one little flashback to help you understand the friendship Tae-sik has with So Mi and what compels him to go to great and bloody lengths to save her. Never have I shed a tear at the end of a bloody action thriller that isn’t about a war. And I’m not afraid to admit that.
The final scenes in particular were some of the best MaGMCs (Make a Grown Man Cry Moments) I have ever seen. And that is a testament to the writing, directing, and the stellar performances from Won Bin and Kim Sae Ron. I dare anyone not to feel a little tug on their heartstrings at the end of the film.
Ajusshi/The Man From Nowhere is a completely satisfying and thrilling ride through revenge and hope and it is clear to see why so many people absolutely loved this film.