Vancouver International Film Festival Round Four: Korean Action Blockbuster!

The Man From Nowhere – Directed by Lee Jeong-beom

Man From Nowhere.JPGIt’s an open secret that Korea is currently producing some of the most original, exciting genre movies around. So it didn’t take much convincing to get me to see the latest blockbuster from Lee Jeong-Beom. It was definitely exciting. Original? Not so much.

 Some mild spoilers:

 Tae-Sik Cha  (played stoically by Korean action star Bin Won) used to be a secrety agenty type for the Korean government. After the death of his new wife and unborn baby, he gives up his life of action and becomes a simple pawnshop owner. He eventually befriends So-Mi Jeong, the young girl from next door. Turns out her mother did a not nice thing and ticked off a bunch of evil drug lord type folks. They come after her, he gets involved, and boo-ya, you’ve got an action movie.

 If this sounds clichéd, it because it is.

 Quiet former man of action who retired after losing his wife and unborn child? Check.

 Spunky, precocious sidekick that reminds him of what he’s lost and gives him new reason for living? Check.

 2 dimensional mob types who do bad things just for the sake of doing them, while cackling maniacally during every scene? Check?

In fact, this had so many 80 ‘s action movie clichés that I expected Colonel Trautman to come in at the end and tell Tae-Sik Cha that his mission was over.

But that’s not to say that there isn’t plenty to like here. Cliches are clichés for a reason, and when they’re done well, they’re like listening to Stairway to Heaven on the radio: You’ve heard it a thousand times, but you still keep it on because you can sing along. Althought there is very little originality in The Man From Nowhere, there is some great fight scenes, some fantastic action shots, and a well-motivated, very likable hero. Also based on the reaction of the women in the audience I watched this with, he looks good with his shirt off.

All in all, it’s a decent formula action movie.

Rating: C+

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