I have 469 movies in my Netflix Instant queue. I tend to watch one thing for every five that I add, but now my library is close to being full and I have to make room. So, every Monday I’m going to pick a random movie out of my queue and review the shit out of it. But (like Jesus), I’m also thinking of you and your unwieldy queue and all the movies in it you want to watch but no longer have the time to now that you’ve become so awesome and popular. Let me know what has been gathering digital dust in your Netflix Instant library and I’ll watch that, too. One Monday for you and the next for me and so on. Let’s get to it.
What’s the movie? The Man From Nowhere (2010)
What’s it rated? Rated R for malnourished children, organ harvesting and a knife fight for the ages.
Did people make it? Written and Directed by Lee Jeong-beom. Acted by Won Bin, Kim Sae-ron, Kim Tae-hoon, Kim Hee-won and Kim Sung-oh.
What’s it like in one sentence? A Korean version of The Professional with a little Taken thrown in for good measure.
Why did you watch it? Jason the Mason and RelaxingDragon went for this, while Louis Pantelakos Jr. and fxenderby went for The Chaser, which we’ll cover next week.
What’s it about in one paragraph? A mysterious pawnshop owner gets sucked into a deadly web of human organ trafficking, child slavery and drugs when his next door neighbor (a cute little girl) is kidnapped. As we learn more and more about the pawnbroker, it becomes readily apparent that he has a very specific set of skills that he will use to bring chaos and bloodshed down onto the drug lords who have his little friend.
Play or remove from my queue? It’s worth a play. It moves at its own pace in the same way that most Korean films do, but it lacks the subtle escalation of events and the ratcheting up of tension that most have, as well not really having any strong characterization to draw you in. That’s not to say it doesn’t have a great payoff, because the climactic knife fight between our hero and a roomful of thugs is extremely badass and makes watching the film worthwhile. Everything up to that point, however, feels like a laundry list of plot points and beats you’ve seen in a dozen other movies. Here’s a checklist for you.
- Hardened man with a past meets a plucky yet damaged little girl. Check!
- Little girl has a family member that gets in over their head with bad guys. Check!
- Man with a past just wants to stay invisible, but is pulled from his isolation to save plucky little girl. Check!
- Man was a motherfucking killing machine in his past life, so he dusts off his training and beats some ass. Check!
- Man slowly learns to open his heart again for the little girl and finds a new lease on life. Check!
- The boss bad guys have no human elements to them and act like effeminate supervillains. Check!
- Biggest badass of the villains loves to kill but also has a warped sense of honor. Check!
- Competent, yet ineffective police are more interested in catching the Man instead of the bad guys. Check!
I’m not going to give you the list of movies that all of these tropes come from, but you already know what they are since you’re on this website. The Man From Nowhere could have used all of these cliche’s and still worked if it had a strong center and something new it was trying to say, but even with the showstopper of a final action setpiece, it just lands firmly in the middle of a sub-genre of films that has done much better.
Do you have a favorite line? When our hero tells the main bad guy he’s going to kill him and then keep his fucking gold teeth was pretty pimp.
Do you have an interesting fun-fact? All I could really find was that it was the highest grossing South Korean film of 2010. That’s weird to me because that’s the year I Saw the Devil came out, which is superior to The Man From Nowhere in every single way.
What does Netflix say I’d like if I like this? Chaser (next week!), Mother (one of the finest films of the last 10 years), Righteous Ties (Korean gangster flick. Added to the queue), A Better Tomorrow (the remake. Is this even worth watching?) and Election (another South Korean classic.
What does Jared say I’d like if I like this? The Professional and Taken are definitely cinematic soul children. Plus, if you haven’t seen The Professional in a while, that shit is aging like a fine wine.
What is Netflix’s best guess for Jared? 3.9
What is Jared’s best guess for Jared? 3.0
Can you link to the movie? Sure!
Any last thoughts? I know I made this sound terrible, but it’s not. It’s a perfectly workmanlike crime thriller with one or two excellent action beats in it. If that’s what you’re looking for, then you could do worse than this.
Did you watch anything else this week? There is nothing else but Mass Effect 3. And goddamn you for taking me away from it.
Any spoilerish thoughts about last week’s film, Amigo? The son cutting the telegraph lines right before they could have saved his father’s life was tragic and awful, but way too on the nose to have worked in this film. It almost could have worked as misery porn if it tried harder, but the film just fell right down the middle of what it was going for and, as a result, it’s pretty damn forgettable.
Next Week? Chaser!