Whether in Hollywood or any other movie market in the world – the quiet, lonesome hero with a violent past forced back into action has been a common staple in the action genre for quite some time. As such, every facet has been explored and any form of a different take on the often used pattern is considered bland. However, every so often a new film comes along that is refreshing and entertaining, even though the old formula is barely altered.
It is with these films that we can keep up the tradition of the lone action hero who is forced to face his troubled past in order to save those he holds dear. What prevents them from becoming a run-of-the-mill actioner that is forgotten merely months after release is the fact that everything works so well together, providing for a smooth and rather emotional experience seldom seen in many action films today.
That is exactly what we find in Jeong-beom Lee’s The Man From Nowhere.
The story starts off simple enough, as we take a look at the life of a lonely pawn shop keeper, Cha Tae-sik, who finds friendship in a young girl who lives next door. Her single mother being a drug-addicted washout, Jung So-mi finds comfort in spending her days with Cha Tae-sik. However, their simple existence is rocked to the core when the local crime syndicate shows up at their door step. They kill So-mi’s mother for stealing a sizable portion of their money and kidnap So-mi.
Faced with the potential loss of his only friend, Cha Tae-sik subsequently embarks on a bloody journey of vengeance, justice and redemption. On this path, he tears through the underbelly of Korea’s criminal underworld and unearths a much more sinister operation at work.
Everything in the movie works very well together. The choreography, the music, the camera angles, the acting and the tight writing all meld seamlessly together into an elegant piece studded with brutal violence and emotional cues. Jeong-beom Lee goes for the simplistic approach, going less with style and leaning towards the “less is more” mantra that works perfectly for the film. The plot is linear and easy to follow, but there are some twists to make it interesting, of course.
The main driving force of the movie is Cha Tae-sik, played with seamless effort by Won Bin. The intensity he emits behind the silence of his character is enough to let anyone know that he’s a force to be reckoned with. It was highly entertaining to see his journey, as he takes on multiple enemies and gives the more devious antagonists the punishment they deserve. The climactic fight itself is enough of a reason to see this film, as it features some of the best knife choreography of recent times.
For those who crave relentless action and someone to cheer for, this film is for you. For those looking for a powerful dramatic piece on redemption, then this still delivers in spades.
The Man from Nowhere is available on Netflix and Hulu Plus.
Photo courtesy of Gizmodo.