- FILM & PEOPLE
- K-Cinema Library
THE MAN FROM NOWHERE
Aug 20, 2019
- Writerby Pierce Conran
2010 | 119 MIN | Action, Drama
DIRECTOR LEE Jeong-beom
CAST WON Bin, KIM Sae-ron, KIM Hee-won, KIM Sung-oh, KIM Tae-hun
RELEASE DATE August 4, 2010
CONTACT CJ Entertainment
With a strong leading performance by dashing heartthrob WON Bin, The Man From Nowhere combined revenge and melodrama tropes to thrilling effect on its way to becoming the highest grossing Korean film of 2010. Borrowing many of the elements that put Korean thrillers on the map in the early 2000s, LEE Jeong-beom’s hit ushered in a new era of Korean action noirs that would include the Cannes-invited The Villainess (2017), while also engendering imitators overseas, such as the Indian remake Rocky Handsome, released in 2016.
Tae-sik (WON Bin) leads a quiet life, running a small pawnshop in a rundown building in Central Seoul. His only contact with the outside world is So-mi (KIM Sae-ron), a young girl who lives in the same building and clearly senses a kindness in Tae-sik, even if he does his best to push her away. So-mi’s mother suffers from a drug habit and this leads her to steal merchandise from the wrong people, which she hides in a camera bag that she leaves in Tae-sik’s shop, unbeknownst to him. It doesn’t take long for some dangerous men to darken his doorstep, and when they take So-mi and her mother, Tae-sik sees no option but to go after them, even if it means exposing who he once was. As Tae-sik draws closer to the kidnappers, while also evading the detectives trying to find out who he is, he begins to uncover a web of illegal organ harvesting.
Drawing equally from hit foreign thrillers such as Luck BESSON’s Leon: The Professional and the BESSON-produced Taken and local modern classics like PARK Chan-wook’s Old Boy (2003) and KIM Jee-woon’s A Bittersweet Life (2005), The Man From Nowhere is an expertly polished affair that stands toe-to-toe with the grisliest Korean thrillers while also dealing a strong emotional punch, which has earned a brand range of fans around the world.
Chief to the film’s success is of course the pairing of WON Bin and KIM Sae-ron which gives the story its heart. A beloved star in Korea, WON had just appeared in BONG Joon-ho’s acclaimed Mother (2009), and The Man From Nowhere successfully leaned on both his good looks and his mysterious air. Child actress KIM had appeared a year earlier in the Cannes-invited drama A Brand New Life (2009), another film that saw her play a character in search of a father figure.
Director LEE went on to make the action drama No Tears for the Dead (2014), with JANG Dong-gun, and this year’s Jo Pil-ho: The Dawning Rage with LEE Sun-kyun. KIM Sae-ron has gone on to successfully navigate a career as a child star, featuring in the Cannes-screened drama A Girl at My Door (2014) and most recently alongside Don LEE (aka MA Dong-seok) in the thriller Ordinary People last year. Meanwhile, WON Bin has yet to be seen on screens again following his role as the man from nowhere, though he remains one of the top celebrities in the country.