Rabu, 11 Juni 2014

The Man From Nowhere (Ahjussi)

The ones that live for tomorrow, get fucked by the ones living for today. - Cha Tae Sik

The Man from Nowhere or Ahjussi *means uncle or stranger in Korean* is a South Korean action-thriller film.  It is Korea's highest grossing film in 2010 and it is one of the most famous Korean film.  The Man from Nowhere was directed and written by Lee Jung Bum.  The Man from Nowhere won so many awards and the film has strengthened Won Bin's career as an actor.  Some of the scenes have also been parodied in South Korea's variety shows.

Cha Tae Sik (Won Bin) is an anti-social man, who runs a small pawnshop.  Everyone around his neighborhood thinks he was a gangster or a child molester.  His only friend is Jung So Mi (Kim Sae Ron).  So Mi is an outcast, whose mother is a striptease.  Although Tae Sik is stoic and quiet around So Mi, So Mi doesn't mind and keeps visiting him.   One night, So Mi's mother (Kim Hyo Seo) steals a drug from a powerful mafia.  She keeps the rest of the drug in a camera bag and sells it to Tae Sik, who doesn't know that the drug is in the bag.  The mafia manages to locate So Mi's mother.  One of the mafia, Jong Seok (Kim Sung Oh) tortures So Mi's mother and kidnaps So Mi.  Because Tae Sik cares So Mi too much, Tae Sik agrees to do everything Jong Seok and Man Seok (Kim Hee Won) told him.

Unfortunately, Jong Seok and Man Seok deceive Tae Sik and they indirectly give him to the police.  The police also find the body of So Mi's mother with Tae Sik.  They investigate Tae Sik and his possible connection with Man Seok and Jong Seok.  Meanwhile, So Mi is given a 'job' as 'courier' to the mafia.


Many people praise Won Bin for his performance in Ahjussi.  He even beat the legendary actor, Choi Min Sik, in an award or festival.  

Puhleaze, his performance in this film is seriously-overrated.

I'm really disappointed with Won Bin.  I thought his performance *at least* would be in the same level with Lee Byung Hun in I Saw the Devil.  I really had high expectation for someone who beat Choi Min Sik.  Won Bin is good, but he's not good enough to touch my heart.  I know it's damn hard to have a stoic character because you can't express your emotion or acting skill so easily.  But Won Bin has some chances to show his skill, and I think he doesn't use it well until the last scene.  Cha Tae Sik is one of those sexy-and-cold-blooded-East-Asian-guy-who-can-kick-asses.  His character is somehow shallow and cliche.  He's pretty much a one-dimension character.  I know that he has flashback scene, but that scene is cliche and predictable too.  oh, his abs can't change my mind about his acting.  His abs can't change...his abs...


How about So Mi?  She's also a cliche and one-dimension character.  She's one of those troubled-child-whose-parents-have-trouble.  Kim Sae Ron is not Danny Lloyd from The Shining or Jodie Foster from Taxi Driver, her performance is good and emotional enough to touch my heart.  I cried after I had watched the scene where she thought she embarrassed Tae Sik.  Her chemistry with Won Bin is also good.  These two outcasts just somehow fit with each other.

Also, two thumbs up for Thanayong Wongtrakul.  In case you don't know, he also starred in this film as Ramrowan, one of the mafia members.  He and Won Bin have an epic scene in a club. They just stare into each other as if they are the only people in the club.  

If we see it from characters and plot aspect, Ahjussi is clearly a cliche film.  But does it make Ahjussi a typical action film?  Nope.  In visual and cinematography aspect, Ahjussi is different from most Hollywood's action films.  Yes, Ahjussi has fighting scene, shooting scene, jump-from-the-building scene, even a little car chase scene.  So, what makes Ahjussi different from most Hollywood's action films?

The level of violence, art, and emotion in it.      

I never watch an artsy-action film, except Kill Bill and Inception.  It's so hard to find an artsy-action film because most action film directors focus on the action and the thrill in it, not the visual art.  While Ahjussi is no Oldboy or I Saw the Devil, the violence level in this film is higher than most Hollywood's action films.  The action in Ahjussi is not just shoot-and-die.  Won Bin brings his hammer as if he's related to Oh Dae Su (Oldboy).  There's also so much blood in this film.  

Most action films put romance, betrayal, or friendship in an action film.  But the friendship in Ahjussi is a different kind of friendship.  Tae Sik and So Mi are clearly not 'buddies' like Jack and Lemon *30 Rock* or Frodo and Sam *TLOTR trilogy*, but nevertheless, they are friends.  Also, The Man from Nowhere doesn't in all smiley and happy ending like Hollywood's films.  It ends in a bittersweet way.

Overall, I like it despite the clicheness.  The violence and cinematography are refreshing.  I really recommend it, especially if you a fan of action films and or South Korean films.  But if you're not a big fan of blood, then I think you should think twice before you watch this film.      

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