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Revenge is a dish best served with high caliber firearms. Hundreds of movies have based their entire storylines around the concept of a lone individual avenging the deaths of his wife, his daughter, occasionally his entire family, his dog, his favorite childhood toy, or his Lilliputian set in his locker. I think my real life might be seeping into another one of my reviews with that last one… Anyway, your faithful reviewer loves him some good old-fashioned revenge!
Just last week, the Evil Tormenting Bosses forced yours truly to perform actual work related activities instead of sitting in my cubicle filing my cuticles. For this possibly entirely fictional slight, I mailed one of these to their front door…
Yeah. That’s a rabid fucking badger. It wasn’t rabid when I found it. I had to get myself bitten by a rabies-infected bat first. Then I spat in that badger’s face with the breakneck rapidity of a mad sprinkler hose until it swallowed enough spit to become infected. Only then did I mail that sucker. The point is: I take my revenge pretty damn seriously.
My mad ramblings have seemingly and perhaps miraculously managed to bring us to the point of this article:’s review of The Man From Nowhere, the latest in our series exploring some of the greatest modern masterpieces of Asian cinema.
The Man From Nowhere is only the second movie to be directed by Jeong-beom Lee, following Cruel Winter Blues, his debut film. Judging by the quality of his two works, we can expect great things from him in the future. In the movie, a lonely young girl, mostly abandoned by her junkie, stripper mother, forms an unlikely bond with a mysterious pawnshop owner, who seems determined to avoid forming any kind of emotional link with her.
Admittedly, this sounds like the setup to any of a dozen other movies I could name. The Man From Nowhere doesn’t distinguish itself from the typical revenge movie from the get-go, but, as is the case with many Asian movies, the journey is just as important as the destination.
We suspect that Tae-sik, or “pawnshop” as the girl calls him, is in hiding. From what or whom isn’t immediately clear, it isn’t until later in the movie, in a truly harrowing scene, that we learn the depths of the pain that drove him to cut all ties with humanity. Tae-sik is played by Bin Won, a baby-faced South Korean actor who started off in light-hearted TV sitcoms and then, post mandatory military service in the DMZ, re-emerged as a much darker performer in movies such as 2009’s Mother.
Won starts off in The Man From Nowhere as a mop-topped, brooding presence but, as we learn more and more about him and the lethality of his combat skills, he ditches the baggy clothes, the hair and the could-care-less attitude for a black suit and the drive of a shark circling his prey.
Get the verdict after the jump…
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