The Man From Nowhere (original title in Korean: Ajeossi) is a delightful romp about the friendship between a little girl and her lonely neighbor. And of course, this is a Korean movie so by “delightful romp” I mean that when the little girl is kidnapped by Chinese organ stealing drug dealers and the neighbor kills everyone inSouth Korea to save her. Since the two main characters’ names are Korean and therefore confusing, I am going to call them by some nicknames they mention in one scene. The little girl reveals that her mother calls her Garbage (ain’t that sweet?) and then says that her neighbor is often referred to as the “pawn shop ghost” because he is mysterious and works in a pawn shop.
After the girl is taken we see that Ghost can kick some serious ass in a scene that I like to call the “Surpise, BADASS!” scene. Ghost starts going nuts on these Chinese drug dealers until he gets Garbage back. The last time he saw Garbage he had ignored her instead of helping her and so I assume he just wants to apologize for that. The Chinese think they can play Ghost for a fool but that comes to literally blow up in their face.
Working for the Chinese is a guy who we will call “Vietcong.” He speaks American English and seems to have a weird amount of respect for Ghost. Throughout the whole movie, you can feel that it will come down to a showdown between Vietcong and Ghost because the two Chinese bosses (who are the main antagonists) are evil bastards, but they’re not fighters. Vietcong, though, is definitely a fighter. This is one of my favorite things in the movie because Vietcong builds his own identity throughout the story and makes you question if he really is bad. You can see that show down coming a mile away by the end of this movie, but you want it; you want it so bad.
A match made in…Korea?
This is a terrific movie. The fight scenes are incredible, the story is great, and it looks gorgeous. There is one shot that I love where Ghost jumps out of a second-story window onto the street and the camera follows him out of it and onto the street in one long shot. The characters are anything but flat and it is revealed that Ghost is ex-military intelligence and he had a pregnant wife who was killed in the past. It is easy to feel the relationship between Ghost and Garbage even though you don’t see much of it. The fight scenes seem incredibly realistic while at the same time being incredibly awesome.
There are no high flying acrobatics, and people’s arms get twisted in ways that I always assumed they could be twisted. He also gets hurt quite a bit and nothing anyone does is more than any person should physically be able to do. During one scene he is knife fighting with a guy and kills him by biting the other guy’s knife hand to hold it in place while they are locked together so he can free his other hand and force his knife through his chest. …Let me repeat that: he BITES THE OTHER GUY’S KNIFE HAND so that he can STAB HIM IN THE CHEST. Enough said.
I think he’s practicing on his hand first.
The fighting, the violence, the characters, the pacing, and the technical aspects are all great portions of this movie. There is one thing in the writing that drags this movie down, though: the intimate scenes. For good gritty writers and directors the intimate, dramatic, character establishing scenes are hard, which is why Michael Bay just cuts them out completely. In this movie there are some good character development scenes that are sweet enough, but others that are gag worthy. The flashback scene of Ghost’s pregnant wife’s death is just confusing. For me it was overly sentimental and just didn’t make sense. It totally disengaged me and it felt really out of place. There were other scenes that felt a little out of place with the rest of the movie like this one but none that were this confusing. These scenes are few and far between, and even though most of them will make you groan they still work. You still feel the relationships of the characters.
“Does anyone else think these character development scenes are a little gay? …No? Well I’m cutting them anyway. Let’s go blow some shit up.”
See this movie. If you don’t mind subtitles and love bloody, rage-driven movies then this is for you. Well written and well directed, this is a great film save some scenes that feel out of place. From a country that is famous for weird violent movies like Old Boy, this movie is a gem, a bloody, bloody gem that was used to cut out someone’s eyeballs.
Bonus Drinking Game
Take a shot: every time you’re confused about who is Chinese and who is Korean.
Take a shot: if you actually learn someone’s name.
Finish your drink: if you correctly guess who gets drop-kicked by the fat policeman