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The Man from Nowhere -- a 2010 Korean Movie Review

The Man From Nowhere stars Won Bin as Cha Tae-Sik in a movie written and directed by Lee Jeong-Beom. The film follows the story of a mysterious and shady man who embarks on a bloody rampage when the only person, a little girl, who understands him, is kidnapped. One may read up here and think about what is so different about this story; to me, The Man from Nowhere is a story about salvation, of a man who finds himself nowhere when he loses his family. And out of nowhere finds something precious in a little pure-hearted neglected girl, and when someone kidnaps her, he does whatever it takes to save her. The Man from Nowhere is bloody, raw, and much about family and second chances.

Per Wikipedia -- Cha Tae-Sik is a quiet man running a pawnshop. His only friend is a little girl, So-mi (Kim Sae-Ron), who lives in the same neighborhood. So-mi's mother, Hyo-Jeong, is a go-go dancer and opium addict. Instructed by her lover, Hyo-Jeong steals a large pack of opium from the bar she works and hides it in a camera bag, which she pawns to Tae-Sik for safekeeping. Hyo-Jeong's action attracts the attention of crime lord Oh Myung-Gyu, who tasks his subordinates, brothers Man-Seok (Kim Hee-won) and Jong-Seok (Kim Sung-oh), to retrieve the opium. Jong-Seok locates Hyo-Jeong, tortures her in front of So-mi, and forces her to reveal where she hid the drugs. His lackeys, Lum Ramrowan (Thanayong Wongtrakunl), Du-Chi (Lee Jae-Won), and Bear, go to Tae-Sik's place to intimidate him but are surprised by how easily he overpowers them, including throwing Bear through a barbed window.

Realizing Tae-Sik has a soft spot for So-mi, Jong-Seok kidnaps her and forces him to deliver opium to Oh Myung-Gyu. Man-Seok informs the police, leading them to swarm Myung-Gyu's property. Myung-Gyu escapes, while Tae-Sik is arrested and discovers Hyo-Jeong's body, with her organs harvested, in the trunk of the car he drove to make the forced opium delivery. Tae-Sik escapes from the police station, alarming them with his display of combat skills. Upon further investigation, the police discovered he was a former South Korean Army Intelligence covert operative. He retires after his pregnant wife is killed, and he is severely injured during a targeted hit on him.

Following the lead from the burner phone he received from Jong-Seok, Tae-Sik tracks Du-Chi to a nightclub. As he tries to find out the whereabouts of Man-Seok and Jong-Seok, Lum Ramrowan attacks him, Du-Chi is caught in the crossfire and dies, and Tae-Sik is wounded. Bleeding, Tae-Sik procures a car in the street and drives to his former partner's junkyard, which performs emergency surgery on him to remove the bullet and stop the bleeding. Luckily, Tae-Sik recovers; he asks his partner to help him acquire a gun and goes after Man-Seok and Jong-Seok.

Looking for So-mi, Tae-Sik finds Man-Seok and Jong-Seok's drug manufacturing plant, where he finds other kidnapped children enslaved working in the drug plant under severely unhygienic conditions. He frees the children and kills several of the adults monitoring the children, including Jong-Seok. He tracks Jong-Seok's elder brother, Man-Seok, at the gang's condo, where a dozen gang members and Ramrowan are also waiting. As he walks into the building, Man-Seok tells him that So-mi is dead and that he had harvested her cornea, showing Tae-Sik a container with what he tells him are her eyes and demands to know what happened to his younger brother, Jong-Seok.

Enraged, Tae-Sik kills the gang members, including Ramrowan and Man-Seok, in one of the best-choreographed blood bath scenes ever. Distraught and believing he does not have much to live for, Tae-Sik prepares to commit suicide when he suddenly hears a voice calling out. And a scared, dirty, unscathed So-Mi emerges from the darkness; Ramrowan, who took pity on her because she had been kind to him, saved her from being harvested by the gangsters' surgeon, whom he killed off-camera. The eyes in the container belonged to him. The police allow Tae-Sikand So-mi to ride together after Tae-Sik's arrest while she sleeps. Tae-Sik asks them to drop them off at a small convenience store, where he buys a backpack and other school supplies. He tells So-mi she will be on her own as the police must take him away. Before he goes, he asks her for a hug and breaks down in tears as they embrace.

The Man from Nowhere is a solid, badass action film that keeps one's attention from start to finish. Worthy of anyone's time. It's one of the best South Korean movies ever made. And it's the first I ever watched. I hope we see Won Bin on the small or silver screen doing what he does best one day soon. Watch it here


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