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The Man From Nowhere (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

February 27, 2011 by  



Riveting, pulse-pounding action and drama.  “The Man From Nowhere” is simply magnificent!

Images courtesy of © 2010 CJ Entertainment. All Rights Reserved.

TITLE: The Man From Nowhere (Ajeossi, 아저씨)

FILM RELEASE DATE: 2010

DURATION: 119 Minutes + 29 Minutes (Extra)

BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition (16×9), Stereo/5.1 HD Surround Sound, Korean with English dub and subtitles

COMPANY: Well Go USA

RATED: R (For Strong Bloody Violence, Pervasive Language, Drug Content and Brief Nudity)

RELEASE DATE: March 8, 2011

Written and Directed by Jeong-beom Lee

Produced by Tae-hun Lee

Executive Produced by Katharine Kim, Lee Tae Hun

Cinematography by Lee Tae-Yoon

Lighting by Lee Chol-O

Visual Effects Supervisor: Kim Tae-Ui

Edited by Kim Sang-Bum

Production Design: Yang Hong Sam

Costume Desgin: Jang Ju-Hee

Music by Shim Hyun Jung

Starring:

Won Bin as Tae-Sik Cha

Kim Sae-ron as So-Mi Jeong

Kim Hyo-seo as Hyo-Jeong (So-Mi’s Mother)

Kim Tae-hoon as Kim Chi-gon

Kim Hee-won as Man-seok

Kim Sung-oh as Jong-seok

Lee Jong-pil as Detective No

Thanayong Wongtrakul as Ramrowan

An ex-special agent Tae-sik Cha’s only connection to the rest of the world is a little girl, So-mi, who lives nearby. Her mother, Hyo-jeong smuggles drugs from a drug trafficking organization and entrusts Tae-sik with the product, without letting him know. The traffickers find out about her smuggling and kidnap both Hyo-jeong and So-mi. The gang promises to release them if Tae-sik makes a delivery for them, however it is actually a larger plot to eliminate a rival drug ring leader. When Hyo-jeong’s disemboweled body is discovered, Tae-sik realizes that So-mi’s life may also be in danger. Tae-sik becomes enraged at the prospect that So-mi may already be dead and prepares for a battle, putting his own life at risk.

Riveting, pulse-pounding action and drama.  “The Man From Nowhere” is simply magnificent!

The winner of seven Korea Film Awards (the most awards ever received for a film in Korea) and multiple awards worldwide, the 2010 film “The Man From Nowhere” will be released on Blu-ray and DVD in the US on March 8th!

“The Man From Nowhere” was written and directed by Jeong-beom Lee (“Cruel Winter Blues”) and stars popular Korean actor Won Bin (“Guns & Talks”, “Mother”, “Taegukgi”, “My Brother”).

The film revolves around a man named Cha Tae-sik (played by Won Bin), a man who operates a pawn shop and pretty much lives his life quietly.  Living next to door to him is a young girl named So-mi (played by Kim Sae-ron) who tends to visit him quite a bit as she doesn’t have any friends and is often treated like trash, even by her mother, exotic dancer/heroin addict Hyo-jeong.

Typically when Hyo-jeong sees her mother drugged out, she stays with Cha, despite him not communicating all that much.

One day, after dancing at a club, Hyo-jeong uses a stun gun on a man and steals bags of heroin which were meant to be picked up by a drug trafficking organization.  To make sure she hides the bags of heroin, she puts it inside a camera bag and leaves it with Cha Tae-sik.  Meanwhile, her boyfriend tells her that the organization wants the heroin and that she doesn’t know who she is dealing with.  She refuses to give it up, thinking that she can get a profit for it.

As for the drug trafficking organization, they admonish Man-seok (played by Kim Hee-won) for losing the drugs and expect him to find it.  Man-seok gets his brother Jong-seok (played by Kim Sung-oh) to do all he can to find it and they receive information that the person who stole it was a dancer.

Meanwhile, Cha learns a little bit about the girl.  How she has no friends, she steals because she has no authority figure and he does feel some compassion for her.   One day, he sees police with So-mi and a mother with her son.  Both accuse the girl of trying to steal his backpack but So-mi claims she just wanted to compare it with her own.  But they don’t believe she has a backpack because she is poor and the woman and the boy hit her with their backpack while the police watch.  As Cha sees this, they ask her where her parents are and she points at Cha, but instead of helping her out, he leaves.  And the police know that he is not her father.

As Cha goes to a nearby store, he sees So-mi who is planning to steal again and he admonishes her.  But she steals anyway.  As he talks to the store owner to pay for the stolen item, the store owner tells him that she needs a parent and feels badly for her, so it’s on the house.

When Cha goes to catch up with So-mi, she tells him that she stole because he was mean to her.  Was he so embarrassed to be around her that he left her while the police were admonishing her?  She said that she doesn’t hate him but she hurt him deeply and can never hate him because he is the only person that she cares about and gives him her lucky card… a dark knight card.  Touched by this, he sees her run off back home.

When So-mi gets home, she sees Jong-seok bounding Hyo-jeong and burning her with a hair dryer and torturing her.  She tries to tell So-mi to leave but she is held by a non-Korean named Ramrowan (played by Thanayong Wongtrakul).  They are told that the drugs are in a camerabag held by Cha Tae-sik.

So, the thugs start go get the drugs back from Cha (who doesn’t know what they are talking about) and when they try to approach him with brute force, Cha easily beats them all up.  But when the thugs call Jong-seok and tell him that this man has easily beat them, Jong-seok uses So-mi as leverage and tells him that he has both her and her mother and if he wants them safe, all he has to do is follow their orders.

He is asked to deliver a crate with a toy inside to an address and knowing that this is the only way he can free So-mi and her mother, he does it.  As Cha goes to deliver the crate, he checks the contents and realizes that under it is a bag of drugs.

Cha delivers the drugs to the drug trafficking organization and demands So-mi back, but the organization has no idea what the hell is going on.  They receive a phone call from the Man-seok saying that the drug trafficking organization should have never treated them badly and now has stabbed them in the back by giving police authorities a tip of there whereabout and that they are doing a drug deal.

As the police led by Detective No (played by Lee Jong-pil) arrive to make their arrests, the thugs of the organization beat Cha and throw him over the building (but is rescued as he falls on a net at the golf driving range).

Cha sees the head of the drug trafficking organization running and thinking that he knows where So-mi is and goes after him.  Cha tries to pursue him and ends up crashing his car on to his and opening the back trunk.  When Cha walks off, he sees something in the back trunk and the police surround him and see what is in the back trunk.  It’s So-mi’s mother and her eyes are gone and her vital organs are also gone.

As Cha is being held by the police, the police are shocked that his file has been locked and police can not access it, only high-level security.  Because the police were asked by the White House in America to search for a Korean terrorist, they were given a one-time access for information and they use it to get the identity of Cha Tae-sik and are surprised by his true identity and his background and why his file was locked.

Meanwhile, Man-seok and Jong-seok, who have So-mi, have delivered her to a place that kidnaps kids and use them to deliver drugs but also are kept for the purpose of when they get older, they would be killed and their eyes and organs would be taken and sold.  Both criminals run an organ harvesting underground facility and make their money through that and drug trafficking.

As for Cha Tae-sik, he manages to escape from police holding and is determined to do all it takes to rescue So-mi.

VIDEO:

“The Man From Nowhere” is presented in 1080p High Definition and is presented in 16:9 widescreen.  The picture quality of this film is absolutely wonderful as grime, blood and scars can be seen with detail on the characters.  You can see the detail of the suit and clothing of various people, including the buttons on their clothing.

It’s important to note that this is a bloody film known for its spectacular knife fight and its violence but by no means is it sadistic in a horror-film type of way.

While a film that does showcase a lot of black and does take place during the nighttime, during the day-time scenes or neon-light club scenes, you do see the vibrant colors.  As for the action sequences, no blurring or any interlacing.  I saw no compression artifacting, DNR or any significant visual problems.  A pretty solid release PQ-wise from Well Go USA.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“The Man From Nowhere” is presented in Korean and English 5.1 DTS-HD Surround Sound.  While there is an English dub version of the film, I do not listen to English dubs for live action Asian films and prefer to watch the film in its original language, Korean dialogue with English subtitles.  So, I can’t comment on the quality of the English dub for this film.

But as for the lossless audio, the dialogue is clear and there are a good amount of action scenes with car chases, car crashing, gunshots and action-sequences which can be heard through the surround channels.  While not a film that does have repetitive action that utilizes the surround sound and LFE to create an immersive soundscape, the lossless audio fits this film quite well and is pretty much crystal clear.

The only audio that sounds distorted is the special features but overall, the film sounds great in HD on Blu-ray!

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“The Man From Nowhere” comes with the following special features in standard definition:

  • Teaser – (1:08) A teaser trailer for “The Man From Nowhere”
  • Full Trailer– (1:42) The original theatrical trailer for “The Man From Nowhere”.
  • Highlights – (5:11) A feature that focuses on the important scenes between Cha Tae-sik and So-mi.
  • Making Of – (17:23) The making of the action-based sequences.  No dialogue but pretty much we can see how those scenes were created with the talent and the crew around them.

EXTRAS:

“The Man From Nowhere” comes with a slipcover case.

I have been highly anticipating to watch this movie.  Having heard how it won all these awards in Korea and the fact that I have seen a good number of Korean films and very good ones that never won as many awards as “The Man From Nowhere”, you can’t help but think that this film must be special.

And after watching it, I can definitely say that this film was truly one of a kind.  Stepping away from typical gangster or revenge films by focusing on the characters but also delivering in the action.

I have watched Won Bin grow from Korean dramas and seeing him become a film star, but “The Man From Nowhere” is a film where he truly shines and what best than to have a story where you play this character that seems quite stoic but then seeing him as an individual with emotions that he has dragged on all these years because of a tragic circumstance.

Also, the film does shed some light on the underground of Korea (which also happens in other countries of Asia) and where this film could have truly been hampered by terrible child acting, young actress Kim Sae-ron who plays So-mi, does it with so much emotion and adds to the film’s efficacy.

And while the dramatic portions are well-done, you have or will probably read how “The Man From Nowhere” has one of the best knife fighting scenes in a film.  As some Asian cinema fans may be used to seeing in samurai films with sword vs. sword battles, “The Man From Nowhere” is just impressive with its fight choreography that I was amazed.  There is no cheapening of the scenes, you are made to feel that the fight scenes look at feel right and never come out feeling disappointed by the results.

This is classic planning and excellent execution when it comes to the action and in balance with great performances, well-written dramatic elements, “The Man From Nowhere” was just magnificent to watch and I enjoyed this film extremely.

Granted, it is bloody and it is violent but the violence are nothing compared to a slasher, horror film, so it’s easily tolerable and not scary at all.    But if you are sensitive to bloody violence, this film may not be for you.  But if you are open to it, this film delivers in riveting, pulse-pounding action and drama.  “The Man From Nowhere” is simply magnificent!

So far, Well Go USA has delivered with its Blu-ray release of “Ip Man” and now with “The Man From Nowhere” and with the Asian films that they brought to the U.S. thus far, I’m excited to see what other films they tend to bring in the near future.

Overall, there is really nothing for me to complain about this Blu-ray release.  Granted, I wish there were more special features and wish the features were in HD but other than that, “The Man From Nowhere” is a film that I can easily give my highest recommendation.

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