The Man From Nowhere

Greetings Loved Ones! Liu Is The Name, And Views Are My Game.

After I finished watching The Man From Nowhere, I found myself asking three simple questions. One, is this a perfect movie? Two, is it entertaining? And three, which matters more in the end? The answers I eventually came up with were “no,” “yes,” and “It depends on the viewer, but, for me, entertainment matters more here.” Because, let’s be clear, this film has flaws, but my god is it gripping. It’s got to be the most enjoyable movie I’ve seen in , well, a while. And after sitting through “artistic,” “critically-acclaimed” motion pictures, like Arrival and La La Land, neither of which I liked enough to watch again, I found this movie highly refreshing.

The Man From Nowhere tells the story of Cha Tae-Sik, a reclusive loner who runs a pawn shop in Seoul. A widower, Tae-Sik’s only friend is Son-Mi, a juvenile delinquent with a drug addict mother. The film actually begins with the latter stealing some heroin from a group of local gangsters, (always a good idea), and, as you might expect, the criminals wind up coming after her, and everyone she knows. This includes Tae-Sik, who, much to everyone’s surprise, displays incredible agility and combat skills, suggesting that there is more to him than meets the eye.

As unoriginal as its premise is, The Man From Nowhere benefits from a quick pace, good performances, and a well-written script. I’ve always said, its not the story itself that matters, its how its told. And even though The Man From Nowhere shares a similar narrative to The Professional, The Equalizer, and any number of other B-grade action films about bad-asses defending young children, it unfolds in an engaging and unique way. For instance, you don’t actually see Tae-Sik, or Son-Mi, until about seven minutes in, and information about the former is fed to you in a sparse, piece-meal fashion. There are also some really touching moments between the two of them, like when she goes to stay with him while her mother is shooting up, and she does his nails. These little scenes give the movie dramatic heft, and really make you care about these individuals. And, like I said, this film moves fast. So as great as the little moments I just mentioned are, they’re also that; little. They don’t bog down the narrative. You’re never left wondering, “Man, when is this movie gonna start?” And as I said at the top of this paragraph, the acting in this film is very good. Won Bin, whom plays Tae-Sik, does an incredible job here. He manages to convey the bitterness, sorrow, and icy precision of this lonely killer, while also displaying a great deal of tenderness. He’s very convincing in the fight scenes and chases, and is just an all around engaging presence in this movie. In many ways, he reminds me of Leonardo Dicaprio in either Blood Diamond or The Departed, films where the former teen heart throb got to show off his dramatic chops, as well as a more dangerous side. Won Bin has impressed me in all the films I’ve seen him in thus far–Mother, Taegukgi: The Brotherhood Of War–and The Man From Nowhere has guaranteed his status as one of my favorite Korean actors. It’s shocking when you realize that Man From Nowhere, which came out in 2010, is his last film to date. Maybe its because he’s married now, and is expecting a child, but still. I just hope he returns to the big screen soon. I’d also like to mention Kim Sae-Ron, whom plays Son-Mi, and who  does an absolutely terrific job. She’s cute, sassy, but also very vulnerable, and, unlike Natalie Portman in The Professional, whom everyone likes to claim gave the greatest child actor performance ever, she doesn’t say everything in a flat monotone. She’s got some great crying scenes, and some great comedic scenes. It’s no wonder that she is now one of Korea’s most sought after teen actors. So, yeah, The Man From Nowhere might not be original, but it’s got a good pace, a good script, and some really good acting. And all that adds up to a really enjoyable film.

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