Larry’s review published on Letterboxd:
The Man From Nowhere continues the trend of high caliber revenge flicks from South Korea. Where Oldboy socks you with big twists, and I Saw the Devil sucker punches you with gut wrenching violence, The Man From Nowhere hits you in another spot that is ripe for the picking.
As the mans past is slowly revealed, we learn that his friendship for his little neighbor goes a lot deeper than just a friendly bond. This man tragically lost his wife and unborn child and its pretty much wrecked him mentally. He is still in tip top shape physically however, because soon the little girl is in danger and he is the only one that can save her. Watch in awe as he burns a path along the criminal underbelly of South Korea with a cold calculating fury. But after his big fight scenes and interrogations, we see that he is still very much emotionally disturbed by what danger the girl could be in. He isn't fighting for a friend though. He is fighting for a child he never had. He is fighting to fill a void in his life that has been a source of coldness and pain.
This kind of motivation really intrigues the viewer beyond the normal tropes of revenge stories. As the story unfolds and the girl gets herself deeper into danger, you really feel the urgency and the panic setting in. The movie was great at creating a strong bond between the man and the girl.
His fighting skills are unveiled slowly and honestly the movie moves pretty slow at first. But he becomes more crazed and frantic as the situation becomes more dire. When he is at his lowest point, his real skills come to the surface and we are treated to a knife battle at the end that it BEYOND cool. I highly recommend this one.
I'd also like to note that I cant decide what to watch next. Memories of a Murder or the two Sympathy movies.... I cant seem to get enough of Korean cinema!