The Man from Nowhere (2010)
“Should have left him alone”
Director: Jeong-beom Lee
Cast: Bin Won, Sae-ron Kim, Tae-hoon Kim
Synopsis: A quiet pawnshop keeper with a violent past takes on a drug- and organ trafficking ring in hope of saving the child who is his only friend.
Cha Tae-sik (Bin Won) makes an unlikely pawnbroker. He’s young, good-looking, and peeks out at the world from behind a carefully coiffed pop star hair-do. He keeps himself to himself, and tries not to become involved in the lives of his persistent neighbours, cute little Jeong So-mi (Sae-ron Kim) and her drug addict mother, Hyo-jeong (Hyo-seo Kim). Hyo-jeong works as an exotic dancer, and chances upon an opportunity to steal a package of heroin from a dealer operating in the club at which she dances. She then hides the drugs in a toy which she pawns with Cha. As always happens, the owners of the drugs come looking for the thief and it’s not long before she’s spilled where they are.
There’s more to Cha then meets the eye, though. A hidden past that makes him a more dangerous adversary than the drugs gang, led by a pair of psychopathic brothers, anticipate. Cha might have simply handed over the drugs, so withdrawn has he become from the world, had he not discovered that the gang is involved in the trafficking of children for the harvesting of their organs, and that So-mi is to become their latest victim. Thus begins an increasingly violent battle of wills.
South Korea has earned a reputation for high quality action thrillers, and The Man from Nowhere is a good example of just why the country’s output is so highly regarded. Oozing with style, it possesses boundless energy and enthusiasm for its subject. Bon Win perhaps lacks the typical action-hero physique, and his teen idol looks make him an unlikely choice for the role of Cha, but he does possess a certain brooding charm and makes an agreeably enigmatic hero. The action sequences are plentiful, and are as bloody and violent as you’d expect, but director Jeong-beom Lee also devotes time to developing his characters. He also shows himself adept at shooting the action sequences, and includes one astonishing moment in which his cameraman Tae-yoon Lee actually follows Bin Won as he leaps through a window into the street below.