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The Man From Nowhere(2010)
Taesik, a former special agent becomes a loner after losing his wife in a miserable accident and lives a bitter life running a pawnshop. He only has a few customers and a friend named Somi, a little girl next door. As Taesik spends more and more time with Somi, he gets attached to her. Then Somi is kidnapped by a gang, and as Taesik tries to save Somi by becoming deeply associated with the gang his mysterious past is revealed..
For more about The Man From Nowhere and the The Man From Nowhere Blu-ray release, see the The Man From Nowhere Blu-ray Review published by Jeffrey Kauffman on March 5, 2011 where this Blu-ray release scored 4.0 out of 5.
Starring: Won Bin, Kim Sae-ron, Thanayong Wongtrakul
Director: Lee Jeong-beom
» See full cast & crew
The Man From Nowhere Blu-ray Review
A South Korean 'Professional'.
Reviewed by Jeffrey Kauffman, March 5, 2011
Pawnshop ghost and garbage: sounds like a rock band.
It's probably a sad commentary on the insular world view of a lot of Western filmgoers that if you ask everyday fans to comment about South Korean films, if you get anything other than a blank stare, you're just as likely to get a nasty remark about the "Moonie"-financed Inchon, one of the biggest box office debacles of the 1980's (and one that isn't even "really" a Korean film). But for those who love world cinema in general, and Asian cinema in particular, South Korea has actually been a steady provider of unusual and often thrillingly idiosyncratic fare, and it has a long and laudable history going back to the earliest days of film. Though Korean cinema is only just beginning to make major inroads in terms of international market share, there seems to be a generally growing consensus that a lot of current Korean offerings are among the best foreign films out there. One of the undeniable blockbusters of recent years is The Man from Nowhere, a sort of South Korean take on Luc Besson's Leon (also known as The Professional). As with Leon, The Man from Nowhere posits a loner with a mysterious past, the generically named "Mister" (Won Bin, Mother), who befriends a sweet little neighbor girl, So-mi (the absolutely adorable Kim Sae-Ron), who lives in the same apartment complex. So-mi's abduction at the hands of a nefarious group of criminals leads to Mister jumping into a complex labyrinth of drug dealing, organ harvesting, and a variety of other criminal activities that don't exactly put the best light on South Korean nightlife. This is a film that is desperate, dark and often dreary, but which very smartly focuses on the human relationship between Mister and So-mi, and only brings in the admittedly visceral action sequences as a direct result of that relationship.
The Man from Nowhere starts off with an exciting prelude which shows a drug deal going slightly awry, when the runner is unexpectedly tased and a comely woman makes off with the goods. We then segue to the dreary confines of Mister's abode. Mister's real name is Cha Tae-Sik and he is shown running a dilapidated pawn shop where neighbor girl So-mi, who is dismissed as "garbage" by her mother and other children, drops by to share tea and sausage. Mister is quiet, almost catatonic, staring at the sweet girl from underneath a barrage of heavy bangs which only make his steely façade all the more unfathomable. We quickly figure out that So-mi's mother is the woman who made off with a stash of heroin, and she's shown, in a very disturbing scene, to be an addict who sends So-mi outside to play while she shoots up. So-mi, in the first of several heartbreaking scenes, is shown cowering outside of her mother's room as she hears her mother give in to the delirium of the drug.
Unfortunately the mother decides to keep the stolen goods for herself rather than just the 20% of the proceeds she's been promised by the gang members who initiated the "grab and go." That puts the mother and So-mi squarely in the sights of a group of vicious thugs who kidnap the pair and then enlist Mister, who has unwittingly been storing some stolen drugs in his pawn shop, to run a deal for them in exchange for the putative release of the pair. We slowly begin to realize that Mister is not a quiet, unassuming pawnbroker (was there ever really any doubt?). Once his run goes horribly awry and he's caught by the police, we find out that Mister has a rather involved past of his own, one which sets him up to wreak havoc and the required revenge on So-mi's abductors.
There's no denying that virtually every piece of The Man from Nowhere is seemingly recycled from a host of films, both Western, European and, in fact, Korean. And yet under the well modulated direction of Lee Jeong-Beom, who also scripted the film, we're ushered into such a breathless array of sentiment and action that most people probably aren't going to care that they've seen most, if not all, of these elements elsewhere. Because Lee elicits such excellent performances from Won Bin and especially Kim Sae-Ron, there's an immediacy to this film that helps it to overcome the more hackneyed elements of its plot and characters.
The film does make occasional missteps, including some buffoonish thugs whose comedic antics don't sit well with the alternately saccharine emotions and gut punching action sequences which ping pong fairly effectively throughout the film. Lee has a fine visual flair throughout the film, staging the fight scenes well, if sometimes discursively (some of Mister's supposedly lightning fast moves are never shown on screen), and he obviously has culled two affecting lead performances here, which end up being the primarly pull the film has to offer. And ultimately the film boils down to a fairly standard revenge scenario which ends up devolving into a probably overly lachrymose denouement in the final scenes.
The Man from Nowhere continues South Korea's ascent as a world film phenomenon. In fact this relatively small nation continues to be one of the few "foreign" markets where the natives actually prefer homegrown entertainment to anything imported from the United States or Europe, and The Man from Nowhere racked up a rather astounding $40 million plus in box office receipts in its home country. That trade inequity seems only likely to increase as Westerners become more enamored of the unusual combination of emotional depth and action virtuosity which films like The Man from Nowhere bring. There's an old adage that "everything old is new again" and the South Korean film industry can't be faulted for reinventing itself in tropes that are proven audience pleasers. Though you've seen The Man from Nowhere before, it's still bracing to see how a new generation of filmmakers from a country making their presence felt on the international cinema stage can gussy up the old mare to make it seem like a relatively new horse.
The Man From Nowhere Blu-ray, Video Quality
The Man from Nowhere sports a sharp and detailed AVC encoded 1080p image in 2.35:1. As with so many current gangster films, the bulk of this film is cast in cool, icy shades of blue, and a lot of the film is very dark. That said, detail is really rather remarkable even in the shadowy segments, though blacks occasionally do crush. The film sports a desaturated look in terms of fleshtones in many of these darker segments, but fine detail remains clear and vibrant throughout. Some of the very darkest segments sport a noticably softer image, with more apparent grain, than brighter sequences. When we move outdoors, or into brightly lit shots, contrast and clarity are exceptional and some extreme close-ups reveal astounding levels of fine detail. Overall this image is very sharp and well delineated and the colors, while intentionally muted, are accurately reproduced and give the film a shimmering coolness which ably reflects the lead characters' internal anguish.
The Man From Nowhere Blu-ray, Audio Quality
The Man from Nowhere doesn't skimp on lossless tracks, offering nice DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 mixes in both Korean and English. I could only stand the English dub for short stretches, not due to an inadequacy of the mix itself but due to the usual ineptitude of the actual dub. The original Korean track is the one to go with here, and it provides a bristlingly visceral experience from virtually the very first moments. The first sequence inside the dance club is alive with immersion and some floor rattling bass thumping emanating from the subwoofer. The action sequences are very well detailed with some exceptional directionality and very effective sound effects editing. Dialogue is clean, well positioned and easy to hear (though of course you'll probably be reading the subtitles). Underscore and effects are very well mixed into the 5.1 track and it provides a very cinematic experience throughout The Man from Nowhere.
The Man From Nowhere Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
The Man From Nowhere Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
The Man from Nowhere may not be especially innovative, but it does what it comes to do with a general sense of efficiency and emotional impact. The lead performances are exceptional, and this Blu-ray looks and sounds great. You may have seen (and heard) it before, but not with this particular accent. Recommended.
The Man From Nowhere Blu-ray, News and Updates
• The Man from Nowhere Blu-ray Announced - January 25, 2011
Well Go USA has announced The Man From Nowhere for Blu-ray release on March 8. This action thriller, starring Won Bin (Mother, Tae Guk Gi: The Brotherhood of War) as a "desperate man out to save a little girl from drug runners, was South Korea 's highest grossing ...
The Man From Nowhere Blu-ray Screenshots
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