The Man From Nowhere (Lee Jeong-Beom, South Korea) Dragon and Tigers
This slick South Korean underworld thriller is not a transcendent action film in any way, but in the realm of humorless South Korean action conventions it’s well constructed, suitably dark and dangerous and filled with well-honed, visceral scenes. And it didn’t hurt to see the film in a theater packed with a target audience you rarely share the experience with. I don’t mean American male action fans, but young South Korean women with an affection for its matinee idol start, Won Bin (most recently, he played the son in Bong Joon-ho’s Mother). The ooohs emanated from all parts of the theater (but especially the front rows) when Won makes his entrance, playing an emotionally distant pawn shop proprietor behind a lock of hair artfully falling over his right eye. Then again when we get the first flashback of Won, heretofore nameless, as the highly-trained government agent Cha Tae-chik, a super-spy with mad skills and a military haircut. And, of course, when we get our first shirtless scene of the dreamy, tortured hero, when he’s pulled back into the world he fled years before to save a little girl from the heartless criminals who add to the drug-dealing coffers with a sideline in black market organs and child slavery.