The Man from Nowhere
Year of release: 2010
Director: Lee Jeong-Beom
Producer: Lee Tae-Hun
Writer: Lee Jeong-Beom
Cinematography: Lee Tae-Yoon
Editing: Kim Sang-Beom
Music: Shim Hyun-Jung
Stars: Won Bin, Kim Sae-Ron, Thanayong Wongtrakul, Kim Hyo-Seo, Lee Jong-Pil, Kim Seong-Oh, Kim Hee-Won, Kim Tae-Hoon
Rated R for violence, language, and drug use
Movie Review Index
Taking a well-worn plot and making it into something that seems fresh and unique is a tough task for any film-maker. But with The Man from Nowhere, South Korean writer and director Lee Jeong-Beom has taken a tale that has been told many times before and used his skills to construct a picture that will satisfy most any fan of the "heroic bloodshed" action/drama genre.
Won Bin plays Tae-Sik, a man looking to get away from his former life as a member of the Special Forces. He runs a small pawnshop in a quiet neighborhood and seems content to live alone until he strikes up an unusual friendship with So-Mi (Kim Sae-Ron), the daughter of his next door neighbor. Because of her drug habit, the neighbor runs into trouble with the local gang, and after So-Mi is kidnapped to pay her debts, Tae-Sik's old skills come back to the forefront as he sets out to save the little girl.
There's nothing all that different or inventive on display here. Most action fans have seen this sort of thing done many times before. But Lee Jeong-Beom puts everything together extremely well. Even though he is silent for most of the movie, Won Bin still makes a very effective lead, and Kim Sae-Ron goes the opposite route of most child actors by creating a character that is actually likeable, rather than the annoying brat many kid actors end up coming off as.
Most readers of this site are probably inquisitive about the action quotient. While The Man from Nowhere isn't an action classic on the level of something like the releases from Hong Kong's golden age such as Hard Boiled, what is on display here is very well made and extremely violent, with a good mix of gunplay and martial arts.
With the waning output of Hong Kong film production over the past few years, fans have been looking for a new source of their Asian film fix. South Korean cinema has been quickly gaining momentum with diehard geeks, and with quality releases like The Man from Nowhere, it's easy to see why.