Well Go Usa // 2010 // 119 Minutes // Rated R
Reviewed by Appellate Judge Patrick Bromley // March 16th, 2011
Nothing to lose. Nothing to compromise.
It's not always easy to write about movies. I'm not complaining -- I know there are plenty of people who would gladly switch places with me and watch movies and write about them rather than do whatever it is they do in their spare time -- but the fact remains that it can grow...what's the right word? Tedious? Repetitive. See, the trouble is that so much of what's out there -- particularly the current Hollywood product -- is so much of the same quality that it becomes difficult to find new ways of saying "This was only ok" or "it moved me to total indifference." That's not particularly insightful, nor is it all that compelling for the reader, who deserves to read something engaging and which provides a well-reasoned argument as to why something is or is not worth seeing. The more you see and write about movies, however, the more difficult that becomes.
Every once in a while, though, a movie will come across my desk (I don't have a desk) that catches me totally off guard and which reinvigorates me -- it reminds me of how much fun it can be to discover a movie and to try and get other people turned on to it so that they'll check it out. I knew nothing of director Jeong-beom Lee's 2010 thriller The Man From Nowhere prior to watching it. In some ways, that's the perfect way to see the movie -- avoid trailers or even reviews (like this one, which makes for such a paradox my head may explode) and go in totally cold. For someone like me, that hardly ever happens anymore. It's my own fault; when I'm excited about a movie, I'll seek out the trailer and read the reviews leading up to its release. Unfortunately, in doing so I pretty much spoil the film -- I know exactly what I'm getting every step of the way, because that's the way movies are marketed now.
What I'm saying is this: if you don't already know anything about The Man From Nowhere, stop reading here and go check it out. I promise you'll be glad you did. When you've finished, come back and read the rest of the review.
Welcome back. Hope you enjoyed the movie. I sure as hell did.
I won't go into much description of the plot, because I suspect there are those of you out there who are a little dishonest and have continued reading against my advice to the contrary. All I will say is that The Man From Nowhere begins with a friendship between a quiet, private pawn shop owner named Tae-Shik (Bin Won of Bong Joon-ho's Mother) and a young girl named So-Mi (Sae-ron Kim). When the young girl's mother gets mixed up with some bad men, Tae-Shik is forced to come out of "retirement," as it were, and take matters into his own hands.
I don't want to say anymore, because I wouldn't want to spoil the fun of watching The Man From Nowhere unravel. It's not a movie of tremendous surprises or shocking twists, but it takes its time in getting where its going and doesn't telegraph anything so early on that you're waiting for the next obvious story beat. Boiled down to its most basic elements, the movie is essentially Man on Fire minus that film's bloated length and nauseating overdirection. The Man From Nowhere offers the best kind of slow burn, building steam over time and earning every moment that comes in the last act. When those scenes finally come, Jeong-beom Lee stages some of the most kick-ass, violent action I've seen in recent years. Fans of the genre will not be let down.
The Blu-ray of The Man From Nowhere looks fantastic, too. Shot largely in shadows and darkness, detail is rarely lost in the 2.35:1, 1080p image, and when bursts of color do appear (like in an extended nightclub sequence), it really pops. The lossless 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track offers a slow burn just like the movie, saving its biggest punches for the final third; when it kicks into high gear, it's got a decent amount of low end to balance out the action in the surrounding channels. The film comes with an English dubbed track, but I opted for the original Korean track with English subtitles and therefore can't comment on the quality of the dubbing. I'd advise skipping it anyway. The only extras included are a standard "making-of" featurette, a "highlight reel" (which basically just recaps the whole movie in a matter of minutes; I have no idea what appeal a feature like this holds) and some trailers for the film.
What a fantastic surprise The Man From Nowhere proved to be. It's the best movie I've seen in a while, and one I'll be returning to many times in the future. It's movies like this that make me thankful to have a forum and a voice at DVD Verdict, because if I can point just a few people in the direction of The Man From Nowhere it will have been worth a dozen Cop Outs. I loved this movie.
Review content copyright © 2011 Patrick Bromley; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2014 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
Studio: Well Go Usa
* 2.35:1 Non-Anamorphic (1080p)
* DTS HD 5.1 Master Audio (English)
* DTS HD 5.1 Master Audio (Korean)
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (Korean)
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
Running Time: 119 Minutes
Release Year: 2010
MPAA Rating: Rated R
* Highlight Reel
* Official Site