Any aspiring screenplay writers out there should know that there really is very little in the way of adrenaline exploitation that has not already been done, nearly ad infinitum, in Asian cinema. The Man From Nowhere delves into that sub-sub-genre of crime scenarios that deal with organ harvesting, heroin trafficking and child slavery. Thankfully the subject has now been covered with all due sensationalism, and no one will be led to cover it for its newness. Never fear: The culprits meet their deaths in gratuitous bloody sequences, along with just about every character connected to them in any way.
The "man from nowhere" dishes out the beyond-the-law vigilante justice, and his character is about as cliche as they get. Former spy -- check. Martial arts expert -- check. Mysterious air -- check. He's not the conventional muscle bound protagonist, however, as the movie starts out with glimpses into his life as a pawn shop owner and operator. When his dream life was shattered by criminal hands he abandoned his service to the state and went into the hock trade. He just happens to be the neighbor of a little girl who gets snatched up by the scuzziest people the writer could envision. Like any mysterious hero lethal in hand to hand would, he embarks on a quest to save the child.
Hollywood did not dump this film on the world. The California film industry may not be cutting edge with a lot of its story choices, but that can be a good thing, depending on one's perspective. Korean film makers don't seem to be burdened by the same PTA outrage that would surround a movie like this in the United States. Sometimes the lack of moral filters allow for a truly inventive and awe inspiring work of cinema, but at other times the viewer winds up with a movie like this. Anybody who can watch this movie and simply shrug their shoulders has probably seen too many movies. Welcome to the club. The proper reaction is probably to be deeply shocked and offended by the violence and subject matter. For those who are already jaded: It wasn't totally terrible, it was just mostly terrible, but it did make a couple of hours go by very quickly.
::bonus review:: :)
Meanwhile, in the romance genre, Windstruck tells the story of the person with the worst aim in all of Korea, a policewoman in Seoul. Don't let other descriptions fool you. You may hear that the movie is about love and loss, that it deals with matters of the heart and grief, and the touching of two souls. It is really about how the lead female actor (who would have been great in any role) can't hit the broad side of a barn with her sidearm. That fact remains consistent throughout the movie. Sure, she has a lover that bites the dust, but that doesn't help her get any better with her pistol. I'd be frightened to meet a person who could make it through the entire two hours and three minutes without laughing.
For the sake of honesty it should be said that the movie is a sappy romance, frivolously so. It waffles between happy and sad and has a wide variety of endings to choose from. The director made it impossible to know for certain if the boyfriend was shot to death. Instead the viewer is forced to choose their own interpretation of events. The movie is a flop as a normal romantic comedy, but was still enjoyable overall. It really helps that the leading lady is so pleasant to look at.