The Man From Nowhere premiered in 2010 and was number one in ticket sales for about 5 weeks straight. For such a high grossing movie, the premise is simple. A man (Cha Tae-Sik) becomes a father figure to a little girl (So-Mi) that happens to be his neighbor. She has no friends and her mother is a drug addict. Due to her mother’s stupid life choices, she gets kidnapped by drug dealers/organ sellers and Tae-Sik is hell bent on getting her back.
The acting wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t jaw dropping either. I knew the bad people were bad mostly because of the way they looked and what they did. Without this, there would be nothing to differentiate them from anyone else. In other words, their role made them killers, not the person doing the acting. But those are just the side characters; we all know the key player in this film is Won Bin (Autumn in my Heart, Mother). This was his second movie since his mandatory military service and he managed to kick ass. Kudos to him, for being able to transform his baby faced image into the beastly killing machine Tae-Sik. As for the girl who played So-Mi (Kim Sae-Ron), she did a good job for her age and she managed to match perfectly with Won-Bin.
The Man From Nowhere was overhyped, and I was disappointed ten minutes in. I knew the story had been done before (Man on Fire), but I was hoping that the movie would somehow distinguish itself. It was almost cliché atop cliché, and things began to be predictable. Not to mention it consisted mostly of stock characters. Take Tae-Sik for example, he is the textbook definition of the “dark hero”. Mysterious past? Check. Broody attitude? Check. Dark clothes? Check…and it could keep on going. The interaction between Tae-Sik and So-Mi was the movies saving grace. It was so heartwarming and I was tearing up as she was taken away.
I was squirming and flailing my arms while chanting that I would never do drugs about every time I saw heroine being injected or the powdery stuff going around. When I wasn’t spazzing over the drugs, I was pulling at my collar during some of the more gruesome scenes (i.e. almost any scene that had something pointy in it). After the movie was finished, I was able to look back and appreciate some of the issues that it brought up; such as child slavery, organ selling, and heavy hitting drugs. I know they aren’t the most immediate issues in today’s society, but it does happen and the movie serves as a reminder. There are even a couple of drug use statistics thrown about in the beginning.
Although I am a fan of Won Bin, I mainly decided to give this movie a watch because of the following trailer:
It had engaging music (Mad Soul Child), cool fight scenes, and an explosion. I was hooked. When I watched the film, I got exactly what I expected albeit a rather typical storyline. I don’t know if it was because I watched the movie online, or my TV wasn’t bright enough, but some of the darker scenes were too dark. I had to sit real close, otherwise I might have missed something, and it got on my nerves. However, there were times in which things were interesting to look at. One of my biggest criticisms on any Korean movie/show that contains violence is that blood looks unreal. It’s usually bright red and watery. I was relieved (and a bit nauseated) to see that the film made it look proper. Fortunate to the movie, the effects and visuals were able to pick up the slack that the story left behind.
I really wanted to fall in love with this movie, but I didn’t. I was entertained only because I was a sucker for the ajusshi-girl tag team and I am not really good at acting calm when it comes to gore. There are definitely more chilling and original movies out there… Has anyone seen Oldboy?