December 31, 2013.

This blog is now closed. After three years and 311 posts, I have decided to end this blog. I have enjoyed watching the films, reviewing them, and interacting with global readers.

If you are interested in contacting me, you can do so by commenting on any of the posts. The blog will remain live on the web.
Thank you to all the readers for your comments, ideas, and thoughts. They were helpful, stimulating, and enriching. This is Alene, signing off.

April 10, 2013

The Man From Nowhere (South Korea - 2010)

When it's over, foreign films are a nice getaway from Hollywood fare. They offer fresh faces, peculiar characters, interesting fashion, and alternative settings. The Man From Nowhere is the Korean version of Leon: The Professional (1994) and Man on Fire (2004) combined. Revenge and friendship are at the core of this brutally violent film about a quiet pawnshop keeper, Cha Tae-sik (Bin Won), who faces off with gangsters in order to save a child, Jeong So-mi (Sae-ron Kim), his only friend. I really like the subtle relationship and chemistry between Tae-sik and So-mi. They are together only in a handful of scenes, and most of them, Tae-sik utters a few words. Their relationship works, because most of their communication is done through gestures. Less said can sometimes mean more. These interactions are enough for me to believe Tae-sik's determination to save So-mi from organ traffickers. Also, as the story unravels, the viewer learns Tae-sik's true identity and his tragic past, which explains his need to save So-mi. Bin Won makes his character likable, even when he is completely brutal. He is the anti-hero that must resort to vigilante ways to bring justice to injustice acts. Kim is brilliant as So-mi. She brings out the innocence and maturity of a child that tries to find good in the bad around her. She allows her character to be smart and brave in the most unconventional way. Kim makes So-mi a character even viewers want to protect. The film is bloody and disturbing, but none of it is overdone. Each act of violence is shown to move the story forward. There is child labor, organ extractions, and execution style murders. Each scene showing these three elements are included to move the story forward, heightening the characters' motives and delivering what each villain deserves. The final close quarters knife fight is well choreographed, reminding me of the Bourne Identity films. The Man From Nowhere is nowhere revolutionary, but rather, a staple of its genre.

My rating: 4 out of 5

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