Director: Jeong-beom Lee
Stars: Bin Won, Sae-ron Kim, Tae-hoon Kim
Seek this out somewhere!
I don’t want to bore you with a long list of Korean films I love, but it’s important for you to know that I love Korean films. My favourite is probably I Saw the Devil, so you can imagine my excitement when I sat down to watch The Man From Nowhere (I’ll call it The Man for short). With Korea’s incredible reputation in films The Man had a lot to live up to and it didn’t disappoint. The Man demonstrates why Korean film’s are so good in its opening half hour or so as it zooms in on a very touching (but not fake) relationship between a pawnshop man and a little girl who’s mother is a heroin addict and altogether bad mother! This relationship is so cockles-warming and cute you can’t help but be sucked into these characters.
I would guess that the American remake (which will inevitably arrive) will feature a Mum with shelves full of ‘Mom of the Year’ awards and the man (I’ll call him the man as I’m quite bad at Korean names) will probably be a taintless guy who saves orphanages and adores kids. However it’s the character’s flaws that make them interesting, realistic and altogether more likable for it. The man isn’t the nicest person in the world, however he has great qualities and its enough to make the audience like him. It turns out that he becomes even more bad-ass than Liam Neeson and Bruce Willis put together!
I’ve heard this film being compared to Taken and Oldboy, but really this film is much, much better than Taken (and I loved Taken!) but not Oldboy, however it’s not that far off Oldboy’s greatness! But this just goes to show that foreign cinema is so much better than American (in the majority of cases) as Taken was even directed and written by a Frenchman! The Man however is superior in every way. Its narrative is more complex, and its characters are much stronger, and although it may not be as action-packed as Taken it certainly carries more of an emotional punch.
I do really want to give The Man a 10/10 but I don’t think it’s right to. The plot did become overly complicated in some parts (especially with all the similar-looking faces) and there were some parts where I was just waiting for some more action to happen, but that’s not to say that I didn’t enjoy The Man because I did! At 2 hrs there’s rarely a moment where the film dies down. It’s a fantastic thrill ride which explores some typically dark avenues (it’s Korean!) and you can’t help but appreciate it for having the balls to do so.
There are also some incredible action sequences that are shot almost to perfection. The camera is extremely quick but never does it make you feel disorientated as to what is going on. These action scenes are more up to Ip Man standards, which if you haven’t seen Ip Man is very high! There’s a hugely entertaining and tense fight scene in the men’s toilets and it just leaves me wishing that there were more. However, The Man is so much more than just an action film. Its got a huge heart and brain to match! The directing is terrific and quite mesmerising at times. One stand out moment features a smash through a two-storey window all in one shot!
All of this thrilling narrative culminates into a stupendously entertaining climax that almost feels as cool as Kill Bill! It’s an action extraveganzer (hard word to spell) full of incredible directing and superbly choreographed fight sequences with quite a bit of blood too! It’s a rip-roaring revenge rampage which is quite incredible to watch! The ending, however, is even more impressive. It’s quite simply one of the most touching endings I’ve ever seen with a great use of music that really pulls at the heart strings. I had chills, and those chills took a while to leave after the credits had rolled, as it just created such an emotional impact that is quite hard to top.
The Man is quite simply another Korean masterpiece. Its storyline might not be all that original but its characters and intricate plot points shoot it up into matching the greatness of The Chaser. The Man excels in its wonderful characters and huge heart. Yes some parts could’ve been simpler, but its a film I can’t wait to see again, which certainly can’t be a bad thing, can it? It rivals most American films and you’ll need the hardest heart in the world, not to be touched by the knock-out ending. A truly mesmerising film!