The Man From Nowhere: A Different Kind of Adult-Child Character Combination
The Man From Nowhere: A Different Kind of Adult-Child Character Combination

When you think about Korean films, you might often picture heavy drama scenes or romance-comedy flicks. Aside from movies that mainly tug on your heartstrings, however, many record-holders in Korean cinema belong to the action genre. Shiri, Assassination and Veteran are some of the titles that broke box-office records when they were released.

The Man From Nowhere was the highest-grossing film back in 2010, and rightfully so, as it wasn’t just your average action flick. Lee Jeong-beom’s direction effectively blends a lot of elements to evoke out all sorts of emotions from its viewers. But before that, here’s a brief rundown of the story.

At the beginning you have a withdrawn protagonist, peacefully making a living through his own small pawnshop. All that changes when he meets a cheerful girl, So-mi, who befriends him and seems to be the only person who understands him.

The movie really kicks off when the dark side of the girl’s family is revealed. The mother is involved with what can only be described as a crime family, which opens the door to some interesting storylines.

These criminals will go to great lengths to get their own way. This activity soon prompts the ‘man from nowhere’ to come out of his quiet life and help the aforementioned victims.

Police and investigators get involved and then learn that the man is actually an ex-black ops operative named Cha Tae-sik with a tragic past. Of course, the hero has his own way of doing things and embarks on a killing spree to rescue his only friend.

The final fight scene is arguably one of the greatest knife fights ever choreographed in cinema. The absence of BGM in this segment made it more realistic and intense. Only the sound of the blades, swift moves and heavy breaths were audible which would actually make you hold your own as if you were in the scene. The cinematography also helped by mixing in first person perspective shots.

Here’s the clip if you want to spoil yourself:

Amidst all the action thrills, the relationship between the protagonists has a weird way of bringing out a sense of longing for connection. Won Bin’s charisma emanates all throughout as he plays Cha Tae-sik, and yet So-mi’s character portrayed by Kim Sae-ron equally commands great presence every time she’s on screen. Even if the protagonists were not directly related like in movies such as Taken, the character development regarding their relationship is certainly heart warming.

In short, The Man From Nowhere interplays action and suspense with a range of other elements like drama, mystery, feel-good moments and as well as its fair share of action scenes to appeal to a wide demographic.

Blending various facets together is often executed in the entertainment industry, but not many creations have successfully done so. Movies like the aforementioned Taken and the more similar The Professional might be seen as influences, but then again, the latter formed a different kind of relationship between the main characters.

Other mediums such as the gaming industry have had notable combinations, with titles like Hitman which mixed together a multitude of action scenes with RPG; and the more simple Slingo which merges the appeal of slots and bingo that is the sort of game in which you could envisage characters such as So-min playing. However, only a handful of works within the entertainment world have delivered quality mashups that are truly worthy of recognition.

The Man From Nowhere exemplifies how to execute such a formula effectively. It gained the attention of movie fans so much so that it was remade this year by a Bollywood movie house, and Hollywood is next in line to create its own version. So before you watch the remakes, be sure to check out the original. You won’t be disappointed.