Reviews by Jonathan: The Man from Nowhere

Well, there’s not really anything of interest coming out this week, so I figured that I would review a few less current releases for fun. First up is The Man from Nowhere, one of my favorite movies of the past few years.

The Man from Nowhere is a 2010 South Korean action film. Its premise is a simple one that you’ve heard before in films like Man on Fire, or Taken. A girl gets kidnapped for various reasons, and a man close to her in some way, who has skills that can help get her back, goes after the kidnappers. Naturally, a chase commences. It’s all stuff you’ve heard before, and it is very predictable overall. But what sets the film apart from other similar films is its execution. The film is amazingly well shot, amazingly well acted, and beautifully scored.

The rather generic premise is elevated mainly by the lead actor Bin Won, who adds a lot of emotional weight to a story that could have otherwise been just another mindless, dull action film. The film, along with Won, make you believe that he really does care about this girl, and you end up caring along with him. This emotional weight also adds a lot the film’s fight scenes, which again could have very easily been dull and throw-away. Yet they are given a lot more weight, due to the stakes and emotional investment. These scenes and just about every other are made more tense, and more satisfying because the film cares enough to let you get attached. I won’t lie, I may have teared up a bit during this film, which I never expected from this kind of movie.

I am a very big fan of South Korean films, because they treat every film, good or bad, like a work of art. The Man from Nowhere is no slouch in this department. It’s brilliantly shot, making the film not only successful on a story and character level, but on a technical level too. There is at least one shot in this film that made me say out loud “Wow”. Also, as I mentioned, the action scenes are brilliantly filmed as well, making them brutal, intense, and very satisfying and exciting to watch. The film is also very well paced, making sure that even if it failed on every other level, it would still be entertaining to watch. Most importantly, I absolutely have to mention the score…..the score for the film is beautiful. I often find myself rewatching scenes just for the music, if I ever find the soundtrack online, I am snatching it up in a second. It’s just THAT good.

Okay, I’ve been praising this movie plenty, so I should probably mention its few problems. I’m not sure if it’s just something lost in translation, but the dialogue in the film is really bad sometimes, bordering on laughable, even with subtitles the lines can be unbearably cheesy at times;  with an english dub, the film is almost unwatchable. In other words, avoid watching the dubbed version, and stick with the subtitles.  Also the character of the little girl, while mostly cute, can be a bit annoying at times, it might be just me, but I found myself cringing at a few of her scenes. Though again both these problems could very well be something lost in translation, so if you speak Korean, you might not have this problem.

The Man from Nowhere is available on netflix streaming, and I highly recommend you check it out. It’s a very entertaining and emotionally satisfying film. If you enjoy both fun action movies, and love a well crafted film as well, this is a great film for you.

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