Cha Tae-sik (Bin Won) is a former special agent with a tragic past, who now lives a quiet life as an inmate who runs a pawn shop. Two people, Hyo-jeong (Hyo-seo Kim) and her little daughter, Jeong So-mi (Sae-ron Kim) enter her life. They are your next door neighbors. One day, Hyo-jeong asks Cha Tae-sik to do her a favor and hand her something that she is not aware of which is actually drugs. Cha Tae-sik does not know that the mother is a heroin addict who smuggles drugs for a gang of drug and organ dealers.
The gang leader discovers that the drugs have been stolen and sends Man-seok (Hee-won Kim), his brother Jong-seok (Seong-oh Kim), Ramrowan (Thanayong Wongtrakul) to retrieve the drugs. The gang members kidnap Hyo-jeong and her daughter, Jeong So-mi. They torture the mother and tell Cha Tae-Sik that the only way to see them again is if you deliver us. The drug delivery is part of a plot to eliminate a rival. Cha-Tae-sik makes the delivery, but is framed and arrested.
The Korean narcotics division that arrested Cha Tae-sik was led by Detective Kim Chi-Gon (Kim Tae-Hun). When Cha Tae-sik broke out, they were impressed with his fighting ability. They became curious and investigated his background. They discover that Cha Tae-sik was a former Black Ops agent who disappeared because his pregnant wife was killed before his very eyes.
Cha Tae-sik’s arrest leads to the discovery of Hyo-jeong’s gutted body. Cha Tae-sik realizes that his daughter who had befriended him, life is in danger. The narcotics division tells Cha Tae-sik that the trafficking crime organization is now using Jeong So-mi to smuggle drugs and that she could also be killed in order to use her organs. Cha Tae-sik is forced to leave exile and return to the world. There is a bloody confrontation between him and the criminal organization. Cha Tae-sik risks his life to rescue So-mi and a group of children they use at their base of operations.
Man from Nowhere Review
The Man from Nowhere is a perfectly written action crime thriller with some dramatic elements. It is somewhat unoriginal, borrowing elements from the French film Léon: The Professional (1994). The girl, Jeong So-mi played by Sae-ron Kim, is loved by the main character, Cha Tae-sik.
The relationship between the two unfolds in a way somewhat similar to what Natalie Portman and Jean Reno had in Leon The Professional. I have enjoyed watching South Korean cinema in recent years. I have seen some Korean movies like Old Boy, Tae Guk Gi: The Brotherhood of War, A Bittersweet Life, and Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance.
All of these films that I mentioned have excellent acting and a well-crafted script. The man from nowhere is no different. The acting in The Man from Nowhere is excellent. All the cast members do a tremendous job. I was especially pleased with the performances of Bin Won, Sae-ron Kim, and Seong-oh Kim. Bin Won and Sae-ron Kim show great chemistry together and do a great job expressing their emotions. Bin Won as Cha Tae-sik has distinctive eyes in the way they express pain, regret, and sadness. He was perfect for the role of an outcast in The Man from Nowhere.
Kim Sae-ron as Jung So-mi is adorable, energetic, and cute. She is a very talented child actress. The final scene where they meet again will touch your heart, as they both cry when So-mi runs up to him and hugs him. Kim Sae-ron will make you cry when you see the final scene. Bin Won is very impressive with his martial arts skill that is shown in the fight scenes. Fight scenes are realistic real life battle situations and move fast.
The Man from Nowhere has the best knife fighting scenes I’ve ever seen in a movie. The bathroom melee fight between Bin Won and Thai actor Thanayong Wongtrakul as Ramrowan is impressive and very brutal. The camera work is excellent as it follows them in different points of view.
Fight scenes that involve hand-to-hand combat, knife fights, and gun shooting sound great if you have a home theater receiver. The sounds of weapons firing / killing their targets, the cuts and slices of meat and the breaking of bones will submerge you.
The final fight between Bin Won and the thugs is a sight to behold as hero Cha Tae-Sik turns the scene into a bloodbath as he cuts through them all. Bin Won has a black belt in Taekwondo, but he does not use that fighting style in The Man from Nowhere. The melee combat in this movie is more akin to the style of MMA (mixed martial arts) close up and gripping. Half of the evil brothers, Kim Sung-oh as Jong-seok, will catch your eye as he plays this very cold, sadistic and sordid character. Kim Sung-oh also makes great use of his facial expressions.
His facial expressions are like cartoons in that he looks very strange and creepy to highlight his unstable psychotic character. You won’t like Jong-seok at all and you’ll be cheering when he gets his due from Cha Tae-sik. Cha Tae-sik places a lit lamp in a sack of cocaine. Then he lets out the gas and stabs the cocaine. When the cocaine spills, the lamp will collapse and crash, engulfing the drug factory in fire. The building explodes and Jong-seok is burned to death. The bad guys in general in The Man from Nowhere are all irredeemable pieces of shit who do really bad things and exploit kids.
Kim Hyo-seo, as So-mi’s drug addicted mother, Hyo-jeong, is very pretty and did a great job showing the ugliness of drug addiction in a scene where she injects heroin. The scene is realistic and raw, as her daughter So-mi walks up to her and Hyo-jeong simply tells her to come out while she’s in a selfish ecstasy from the drug. The ruined apartment scene looks a lot like the real world where drug addicted mothers neglect their own children.
The intense scene where actor Bin Won jumps out of a window and somehow moves on without missing a step is perfectly shot as the camera follows him. The main theme of The Man from Nowhere is very beautiful and epic. It’s a symphonic instrumental piece that complements Cha Tae-sik’s tragic character and the film’s gloomy mood quite well. I hope to see Bin Won in more movies.
He has a charismatic presence by nature and is powerful when it comes to displaying his emotions. If you haven’t seen Tae Guk GI: The Brotherhood of War (2004), I highly recommend that you take a look at the excellent film from the time of the Korean war. It is a powerful and tragic movie with Bin Won acting as one of the brothers who end up on opposite sides during the war. Bin Won can also be seen in Mother (2009) as a young man with a mental disability.
The Man from Nowhere is an impressive example of South Korean cinema. The director and screenwriter, Jeong-beom Lee, in just his second directed film, managed to make a compelling, well-paced and powerful film. I hope to see more of your work in the future. This is a great movie with an evil dumb hero in Bin Won. The Man from Nowhere lasts almost 2 hours, but you shouldn’t get bored with the well-written character development and mixed action scenes. The ending of The Man from Nowhere is brilliant.