Chungmuro/Film Reviews
Movie Review: The Man From Nowhere
by | September 12, 2011 | 187 Comments

[Please join us in welcoming a guest blogger to Dramabeans, movie reviewer only1tony. We’ve been wanting to cover movies for so long, but barring cloning and/or dangerous 4th dimension travel, we had to find someone awesome who loves dramas and movies and the DB community just as much as we do. Be on the lookout for new features! Without further ado, here’s tony! -girlfriday]

Compelling, passionate, thrilling, heart-warming, dark, and above all well-acted, it is no surprise why The Man From Nowhere (aka Ajusshi) swept the board with awards last year. The partnership of Won Bin and Kim Sae-Ron is excellent, and their chemistry as mysterious man and the little girl who loves him is incredible.

This movie is beautifully constructed in both visual and story aspects. The sheer emotion this movie elicits is simply unspeakable: from the pain of societal rejection, to hopelessness, to unadulterated anger, and finally a sense of what it means to purely love. It is definitely a must-see.


The premise of The Man From Nowhere centers around a mysterious Ajusshi named CHA TAE-SHIK (Won Bin), who is very solitary and largely stigmatized as a societal outcast. He is befriended by his neighbor’s daughter JUNG SO-MI (Kim Sae-ron) who is also looked upon with disdain because of her socioeconomic status. So-mi’s mother gets involved in a complex drug ring that leads to her and her daughter’s kidnapping, and the only person who can rescue them is Tae-shik. He goes to any lengths to save the one little girl who believes in him. It is an action-packed, rollercoaster of emotions that will grab hold of you until the very end.

This movie is wonderful from a multitude of aspects that I will try my hardest to capture in this review. First and foremost, I must call attention to the extensive pool of talented actors.

We meet our hero, Tae-shik, who looks a little disheveled and very much like an outcast, but despite his appearance he still manages to show a sweet side admiring some white flowers. He arrives at his residence where we meet So-mi for the first time. She is an energetic girl, talking to Tae-shik despite his refusal to respond with little more than monosyllabic answers.

I love this duo because it’s so unexpected, but they fit each other so well. He’s so silent and solemn and she’s so energetic and youthful. They also don’t act like they have a typical adult/child relationship, but they’re more like argumentative best friends. So-mi is without a doubt a wise little girl because despite what everyone thinks of the mysterious Ajusshi, she can see that he is a good person underneath all the gruffness. Sigh. I wish I could have Won Bin as my best friend and mysterious neighbor!

Character introduction is one example of how efficient and well-rounded the production team is at framing each character. Unlike a drama which has some leeway in establishing character traits and personalities, movies are limited to a finite amount of time to accomplish the same exact level of familiarity. This film, however, delivers in all categories by familiarizing the viewer with almost every character we encounter, setting up a clear love/hate relationship.

Won Bin as Cha Tae-shik really should be called the “King of Expression.” There are numerous moments in the movie in which his eyes tell you more than any dialogue could. I have been a long-time fan of Won Bin so I have come to expect this amazing level of acting, but he truly did step it up. You can see the pain in his eyes, the heartache, the regret, and for those few moments, even happiness and relief. I have to say that by far Won Bin contributed most to the emotional rollercoaster that made this film so moving.

Kim Sae-ron as Jung So-mi is a relatively new actress whose performance was really enjoyable. I loved how quirky and cute she was. The emotional parts that she had to do, which I’m sure must be hard for any actress, let alone a child actor, were simply brilliant. She made me cry a few times, and I consider myself made of stone, so you can imagine! Sae-ron is definitely one of those child actors to be on the lookout for, because with acting abilities like hers, there is no telling what the future holds.

What made the movie really special though was the excellent chemistry between Won Bin and Kim Sae-ron. The duo was quite eccentric, but somehow managed to be adorable at the same time. They played off of each other really well and most of all their friendship seemed natural, not at all forced. The movie would not have been the same without this pairing, and the tender/tormenting moments would not have been as emotionally charged.

The pair was honestly really cute together and I found myself wishing I had a mysterious Ajusshi neighbor that would come to my rescue! I guess dreaming of one will have to do.

In one of the most important scenes in the movie, So-mi gives Ajusshi her most prized possession: a Yu-gi-oh card called Dark Night which she says “beats everything.” She turns to leave but faces him one more time to say:

So-mi: Ajusshi! I embarrass you too, right? That’s why you ignored me? It’s okay. My teacher and all the kids at school do that, too. Mom said that if I get lost, I should forget our address and phone number. She gets drunk and says we should die. Even though that pig called me a bum… You’re meaner. But I don’t hate you. Because if I do, I won’t have anyone I like. Thinking about it hurts me here (she pounds her chest near her heart). So I won’t hate you.

This is by far one of the saddest speeches I’ve heard in a long time. She pours out her soul to him, revealing her hopeless situation. This is really one of the turning points in the movie because this is where we find out that she really needs Ajusshi. He’s important to her, and although not readily apparent, he needs her too.

Aside from the main characters, the secondary characters were also quite brilliant.

Kim Sung-oh, who plays evil drug baddie Jong-seok, was really surprising. I’ve seen him in minor roles in Secret Garden and Midas, where both times he played a silly/not-so-well-off-intellectually type of person, but his role here was drastically different. He plays an amazing sadistic evil guy, with a bit of a psychopathic edge. I like it when an actor is not a one-trick pony and delivers lots of range. He was actually one of my favorite characters just because of how demented his character was.

Kim Hyo-seo, as So-mi’s drug addicted and negligent mother, was probably the biggest surprise. She was incredible in the scene that displayed the horrors of drug addiction. The representation of drug world is drastically real. We see the conditions of drug abuse, the treatment of children as cattle, and even the violent and often relentless business that is drug dealing.

The movie is so good at capturing experiences/real life situations, like addiction, violence and sadness. The ecstasy on the mother’s face as soon as she injects the heroin is stunningly real and I must give proper recognition to Kim Hyo-seo for her incredible acting in the role of the drug-obsessed, negligent mother. I think I’m going to keep a closer eye on her from now on.

Other notable actors included Kim Tae-hoon, who played the lead detective Kim Chi-gon, and Kim Hee-won, who played super evil drug baddie Man-seok. Tae-hoon was good at playing an all-time serious detective, but his character in all honesty did not pique my interest as much as the others. Hee-won was by far one of the most dynamic characters in the movie and really worked the angle of loathed drug tycoon really well. There was also the inclusion of funny man Lee Jong-pil, as detective Noh, and Thai actor Thanayong Wongtrakul, as a psychopath with a knife Ramrowan, who spoke perfect English.

Now for the really juicy stuff: the plot and production value. At first, I thought the plot sounded mundane; super mystery man gets involved with the underground drug world leading to danger and sadness, but ultimately ends up saving the day. Man was I ever wrong. The plot itself is not contrived and is in fact well-written.

The premise is pretty classic: hero needs to save people from evil guys. But that’s where the classic nature ends. Relationships are built that give rise to the action. The dynamics of these relationships are not all black and white, and as such there is definitely an inherent struggle in the viewer. We connect to the characters in such a way that draws us into their world, and as a result we become invested.

From the beginning, the film manages to set up the relationship between So-mi and Tae-shik, defining every aspect of this movie. And let me just say I am so glad that a romantic relationship was not the main focus for at least one movie I have seen in the last year. The production crew manages to capture the eccentric yet realistic relationship between mysterious/kind stranger and youthful/spunky misfortunate girl (if you can imagine that). This is a talent that you will see is noticeable throughout the film: the ability of the production team, as well as the actors, to capture epically realistic and emotionally charged scenes really well.

The story centers on a very mysterious Ajusshi, and we gradually learn more about him as the film progresses, and see what led him to his present state. His backstory is really kind of tragic, but that tragedy allows us to connect as viewers to his story. He might be a recluse, but he has one friend in So-mi, equally jaded, despite being such a young girl.

What I thought was one of the most brilliant aspects of this movie was its strategic (and not overwhelming) use of action. I cannot tell you how many times I have seen a Hollywood blockbuster that simply pounds the action at you every minute and never develops its characters or storyline. Thankfully, The Man From Nowhere does not follow in their steps. Storyline and character development are first and foremost, followed by the use of action as a supporting device to further the story.

From explosions to fight scenes and even portrayal of death, action did play a big part in the excitement factor of this movie. I will admit, had action not been involved, this movie would have been a huge melodrama cry-my-eyes-out-until-I-dehydrate parade. The action though, provided a great sense of thrill. Some of the fight scenes were some of my all-time favorites because the fighting was actually visible.

Far too often cameras can’t capture the rapid movements in fight scenes, and they end up a big blurry mess of twisted bodies. But the visual acuity of the camera work really helps bring out the stunning nature of the fight scenes.

The graphic nature of the killings — an axe to the head, a knife to the mouth, even organ removal — was really well done. I truly was not expecting that. And from then on, the explicit nature of the scenes only grows. Deaths became bloody and violent, revelations even more shocking and the action sequences much more involved.

The acts of killing become really dramatic and so tangibly painful. I’m not squeamish when it comes to blood, but just thinking about the way these people died makes my skin crawl. I promise never to steal drugs for the sheer fear of how I might die!

Symbols, as a plot device, are very important as well. Specifically the nail art that So-mi likes to do from the start of the film. With her mom on drugs, she turns to the only person she can, Tae-shik, and buckles down in his place for the night. When he awakens the following morning, he finds So-mi has already left, but she did not leave without a thank you gift: a painted fingernail with her special brand of nail art, which he can’t help but smile at. So cute!

The nail becomes a transient symbol throughout the movie. That one fingernail represents everything that Tae-shik is fighting for and reminds us that love, in the purest form of family love, is more important than anything.

The hair cutting scene is very symbolic and crucial to this movie’s incredible second half. This is the crux when our hero, who has been so disadvantaged for the entire movie, turns the tables. He transforms himself back into the person he used to be, releasing what I like to call the hidden beast. He’s willing to give up everything to save this little girl. I love the symbolic nature of the actions the writer-director employs because it helps the viewer understand the stages of his development.

The greatest aspect of the movie by far was the emotional side of the storyline. My heart was wrenched out of my chest, stepped on a few times, thrown across the world, and put back in my chest and bandaged with one of those cute penguin band-aids. I literally felt everything the characters felt, and for it I was an emotional wreck by the time it was over. I love a movie that can make me feel everything that a drama makes me feel, but in less than 2 hours. (I still love you, dramas!)

In terms of cinematography, this movie was definitely in a class of its own. The angles, the lighting, the scenery, and even the set design were truly marvelous. In fact, I think a big part of what made this movie great was the acuity of the camera work. At times it was clean and focused so we could see every detail within the frame, and at others, when the action was chaotic, was face moving and even dizzying, but still visible. It was the camera work that made the fighting scenes so realistic.

But I think it is safe to say that the movie itself was truly enhanced by the incredible degree of acting. Won Bin is a master at expressing emotion with his eyes. Without many words he was able to take us from melancholy to surprise, to misery, to anger, and finally to relief and happiness. Whether it was tears of sorrow or tears of contentment, I truly think the powerful facial expressions of Won Bin made the movie that much more special.

The Many Faces of Won Bin:

Overall I think writer-director Lee Jeong-beom was spectacular. He had the vision and skill to execute this dream film with such finesse and artistic aptitude that it really was inspiring. I hope that we see more great works from this writer-director, preferably more action films, although other genres wouldn’t disappoint. (Imagine what he could do with a romantic comedy!)

The Man From Nowhere is a must-watch and I promise you won’t regret it.

Thank you for reading and I hope you liked this first movie review. Please let me know what you think and ways I can improve!


187 Comments from the Beanut Gallery
  1. koreandramalover / kdl / kay

    May I extend my warmest welcome to you to the lovely sanctuary for K-drama lovers the world over, Dramabeans, by the luminously lovely hosts, Javabeans and Girlfriday. 😉

    Off to read your review!! I simply LOVE this film, not least of which is because Won Bin is in it!! 😉

    • 1.1 Divyrus

      One question from someone who is very curious, Do you live here Kdl??
      There is no post where i have not seen you involved throughout!!!!

      • 1.1.1 koreandramalover / kdl / kay

        Hello Divyrus! 😉

        I have been asked the very same question before and I am more than happy to say – YES!! I AM practically a live-in commentator, stalker, lurker, shadow, ghost…call me what you will….hehehe…

        In fact, posting comments in Dramabeans is practically like my obsession/second-job(unpaid)…but there have been an extended period of time where I have not posted any comments at all because none of the dramas being recapped were of interest to me…and I was absorbed in other things…hehehe…

  2. koreandramalover / kdl / kay

    Ooops!!! My apologies!!! Forgive me for not saying THANK YOU for this review!! 😉

    So, THANK YOU!! 😉

    • 2.1 Birthday Girl

      indeed– THANK YOU. this movie is one of my favorites

      • 2.1.1 Birthday Girl

        Oh and I also loved how the romantic relationship was not the main focus–it’s so refreshing.

        • Birthday Girl

          I remember watching this with my dad and him saying “America can never make a movie like this” LOL

          • ria151

            Agree with you on both points. I myself wrote a review on this movie when I first watched it. It was SO AWESOME (still is) which was why I wanted to do all I could to help spread the word. If any of you would like to read it , my review is here:


            I’m actually quite jealous of only12tony. I wish I could write as well as he does. My review is a lot shorter, though. I know my friends wouldn’t read it if it were too long. 😀

  3. smokes

    Yay, movie reviews! Thank you for the great review! I love k-dramas, but my first love was k-film, so I’m super excited that film reviews will be here as well. Thank you!^^

  4. kate

    Oh I’ve seen this movie and it’s so awesome. Thanks for the recap 🙂

  5. jchaerin

    won bin! *drool*

    • 5.1 jchaerin

      and oh! regular movie review yay!

    • 5.2 Lina

      Awesome. I watched like 4 times. Just cant get enough of these love friendship between adult and child. The highlight of this moview when she came out of the van while he’s ready to blow his brain. Won Bin really cool in this movie and the girl!! just really cute and a litte bit brat. The most heart breaking towards the end of the movie when he stuffed all junkie food inside her bags becaused she used to steals it. And the shop owner, the kind hearted person. Why take u so long to review this movie? It has been really long…

  6. ionizable

    i really enjoyed this movie too, mostly because of the acting. plot-wise, it wasn’t spectacular, but i did appreciate that they lampshaded the unusual (and usually taboo!) close friendship between an ajusshi and a little girl. without it, i think i would’ve written off the characters as too simplistic.

    also, that one scene where wonbin’s character dives out of the window and THE CAMERAMAN FOLLOWS HIM? one of the most awesome things i’ve ever seen in a movie, ever.

    • 6.1 kaigou

      Seconded. I’ve watched tons of action films, but that’s one maneuver I hadn’t seen done before. Every now and then I rewatch just that part for the sheer thought of, holy crap, the cameraman’s an action hero, too!

      • 6.1.1 umalily

        It was done in Jason Bourne movie. I forget which. But either way it was an awesome stunt.

        • Kiara

          Bourne Ultimatum.

  7. Rayanne

    Yesssss!!! Movie reviews!!! just when I thought that this website couldn’t get awesomer, you could one up yourself !!! eeee! :D:D

    moar please in the future

  8. Maracarrero

    Excellent review and it’s on my list of movies to watch. If I
    weren’t sleepy right now, I’d be trying to figure out where I can get a hold of it. Thank you so much and please keep the reviews coming ’cause movies are so much easier to watch than dramas.

  9. Cynthia

    Thanks for the review, and welcome!

    I’ve been thinking about this movie for awhile but have been hesitant to watch.

    I’m not a fan of gore and torture, especially with a child involved (it’s the mommy in me), but I must admit your review has peaked my interest again. I’ve never seen Won Bin in anything and now I think I’m missing a great watch.
    (If I could get through Ninja Assassin without tossing my cookies, perhaps there’s hope for this one!)

    One thing I wish you had mentioned in your review was the availability of English subs and if they were fairly accurate?

    Thanks again – great screencaps!

    • 9.1 only1tony

      Dear Cynthia,

      I will be sure to put in my comments section, next time, whether or not they are available in English subs and if they were a good translation. Although for the most part movies, at least ones that have been released for more than a year, usually have subs available and are pretty good quality. Thank you for the suggestion it was very helpful.


      • 9.1.1 Chocobo

        This particular movie is available on Netflix. It does seem that recently there is a slow trickle of Korean movies and shows trickling in on the Netflix website.

        My related suggestion for only1tony is to perhaps develop a rating for each reviewed movie based on content, like the MPAA. Some viewers might not be interested in, or able to handle, explicit violence or sex.

        Even a very crude rating based on comparable movies (i.e. this was a lot like “Taken,” but with more blood and beatings, so it’s “R”). Even a warning for particularly difficult scenes (i.e. “watch out for lady-in-the-trunk-scene”) would be helpful.

        • Shel

          Rating would be helpful for me, too. My 14 yr old daughter loves watching movies from all over the world with me, but there are many things that I’d rather she didn’t see. (Her adult brother took her to see “Hanna” when she was visiting him, and it was bloody/gory enough that she wasn’t able to sleep for several hours, and was calling me at like 1 am….so we’d like to avoid that). Usually, if I’m concerned, I’ll try and watch it first, but I rarely have time to watch a movie once, much less twice.


        • only1tony

          Dear Chocobo,

          First I must tell you how amazing your screen name is. I love Final Fantasy games so to see this is AMAZING! Secondly, yes I think a rating system would be good to draw comparisons. Thanks for the suggestion.


          • Chocobo


            Haha, you are the first one to have noticed the reference. So far others have thought it’s related to choco-abs. Thanks!

            Thanks for the movie reviews and good luck!

        • RckNRllNinja


          I’ve noticed the slow trickle of Korean entertainment in Netflix as well.

          I was looking through my recommendations for TV shows and what did I see?

          CITY HUNTER!!! The entire series on instant watch!!!

          I friggin lost it, lost my my cookies man.

          It makes me so happy to know that they’re making it available to us so soon. 🙂

          • Chocobo


            I know, right? I’m totally watching it at home off of my Playstation. The translation isn’t horrible either (if you need such things, like I do). Not great, but passable.

            There’s a few others too, of less note, but I’m hoping that the more people watch and rate these shows, the more of them will be forthcoming.

    • 9.2 Cynthia

      Forgot to add:

      Are you open to suggestions on movies the readership here would like to see reviewed?

      (Like that new Kim Haneul movie where she’s blind? Can’t think of the title…).

      • 9.2.1 only1tony

        Dear Cynthia,

        I am always open to suggestions. Just comment or shoot an email and I will try my best to see if I can accommodate your suggestions. It is ultimately you guys who will read it so my number one goal is to give you what you want :).


    • 9.3 estel

      I know that Ajusshi/The Man From Nowhere is available in HD on Netflix InstantPlay and also on Dramafever, if I remember correctly. But you have to be in the US to stream those. If you’re not in the US, you can check out sites like,, or to name just a few.

    • 9.4 Senris

      You can download the movie and subs from myasiancinema as well, though you need a special codex and player to splice movie and subs together.

  10. 10 Christine

    WoW!!! Just WoW!!! One of the best movie reviews I have read in a long time. I absolutely loved it!!!! And now it’s off to watch this amazing movie which, thanks to you, I am excited to watch!!!!

    Great Job ONLY1TONY!!!! I am looking forward to all of your upcoming reviews 🙂

  11. 11 Ken

    Enjoyed this review! Honestly can’t think of anything you need to improve, it was well written with excellent screencaps. Perhaps some general chat about other past movies (not full reviews but kind of putting this movie in a context with other action movies perhaps)?

    • 11.1 only1tony

      Dear Ken,

      Thank you for that. I was thinking of doing that but was afraid that certain references (which would mostly be American) would be lost for some people. I agree though I may just reference a few really big movies to compare in reference to genres. Thank you so much for your input.


  12. 12 estel

    I saw this movie in the theater in Korea last summer, right after it came out. You know how some movies just deserve to be seen on the big screen? This is one of them. It was amazing, and by the time I came out of it I was totally emotionally drained and wrung out from the experience.

    I’ve never seen Won Bin in anything but this movie (*gasp* I know!), but it’s enough to make me his fan for life, because he nailed this role. With very few words he took us all over the emotional map and made us feel what Cha Tae-shik was feeling, which is rare, especially in the limited time a movie has. Likewise, Kim Sae-ron blew her role out of the water, and was perhaps more impressive for being so young. And I simply fell head over heels for the lighting and directing – they were truly masterful.

    Thanks for sharing this review with us! I’m excited to read and hear more about kmovies from you, only1tony. I like your style. ^_^

  13. 13 Fayt890

    Well written 🙂 Keep up the good work. And this movie was UH-MAZING. And now I feel like watching it again…. hehe.

  14. 14 Nancy

    Awesome and welcome! For a couple of months now I’ve been hoping to see some movie reviews but I know how busy Java and Girlfriday must be with drama recaps so wasn’t wishing for it! So glad this is a part of this wonderful site now. Looking forward to more 🙂

  15. 15 blahblahh

    Thanks only1tony! Your name reminds me of Anthony Dinozzo (NCIS) or Tony from Who Saved The Boss.

    I enjoy the realistic fighting style of Ajusshi too. ‘Realistic’ if you believe that one man could beat so many people by himself. One thing that bugs me is the characterization, or rather the cartoonization of the gangsters, in particular the clownish/cliched brothers duo. I wish they had spent more time to develop that bits.

    On a girly note, I squealed when Won Bin showed up looking all dandy and sweet in his flashback scene at the hospital. Good Lord, that smile! In my eyes he is the original flower boy of K entertainment industry. The fact that he has the looks of a (younger) Brad Pitt but the ambition & talent to be a Robin Williams only enhanced his allure. He was totally believable when he played the mentally chalenged man in Mother

    Thanks for the review!

  16. 16 Shevie

    absolutely loved this movie. thanks for the review

  17. 17 teacup

    thank you for reviewing this movie. I’ve always wondered when such awesome korean movies would be reviewed.

    i really like your straight forward style of writing. no flowery language or bad jokes. However i noticed that in movies with such depth and so many areas to cover, it’s a difficult task for the writer to stay cohesive and make the essay flow in order. I personally would consider this review as jumping around the places. Several times in different places of the review, “acruity of the camera” and “relationship between ahjusshi and the little girl” were mentioned. And once you’ve covered something, i think it’s redundant to cover it repetitively unless there is another fresh perspective you want the audience to know.

    • 17.1 only1tony

      Dear teacup,

      Yeah thank you for that. I kinda thought it was choppy too but I promise to work on that. This was kind of a mash between a recap and a review which ended up being a little bit coarse. I will try to improve the flow a bit more and I am really grateful for your comments. Thank you and I am sure this will only make the next one better.



    • 17.2 p3rk3le

      I agree with this comment. I liked the review, but you did mention a few things more than once, and the order was kinda out of place..?
      still, good to have you here! I’d love to see reviews from some movies like Duelist (awesome cinematography) and Portrait of a Beauty!

      • 17.2.1 jcl

        portrait of a beauty has the most explicit sex scene I have ever seen yet it was not crude at all.

        My suggestion would be Thirst with Song kang ho. That was mentioned in Time mag. as one of the best films of the year

  18. 18 Mia

    Thank you for the review! Love to read more about The Man From Nowhere! I LOVE this movie! really the best!!! and i agree with everything in your review! It is really one of the BEST! looking forward for more rarities like this!

  19. 19 malta

    Excited for you post only1tony! Thank you! Yay movies 😀

  20. 20 birdscout

    This is going to be a regular feature? Fantastic! Dramabeans just became more awesome!

    Thanks for your great post , only1tony. Really enjoyed reading it! I tried to watch this movie previously but was afraid of the scary parts and chickened out. This review has just inspired me to grab my security blankie and watch it, already!

  21. 21 omo

    Thanks tony. I always love a man who can cry even though he’s made of stone. I’m feeling the emotional connection already. I’m just wondering aloud at how you would be selecting the movies for your reviews. And what is the frequency? Or are you just going to surprise us?

    • 21.1 only1tony

      Dear omo,

      So I am always up for suggestions. You can comment any suggestions of movies you think would be great to review. I usually just go with what I have watched/liked but I am honestly willing to watch anything (even my dreaded genre of horror gulp!). In terms of frequency my aim is to try to do one a week but we will see, I like to surprise people too! 🙂


      • 21.1.1 umalily

        How about midnight FM midnight? Is it too old?

      • 21.1.2 omo

        There are some on my to-watch list :
        1. Secret (Cha Seung Won & Song Yoona) – Suspense thriller
        2. Silenced/Crucible/Dogani (Gong Yoo & Jung Yoo Mi)
        3. Sector 7 (Ha Ji Won, Oh Jiho, ) Action
        4. Blue Salt (Song Kang Ho & Shin Se Kyung)

        I stay away from horror and paranormal stuff too coz I’m such a chicken.

        There is one that I think might be interesting is “The Good, The Bad, and The Weird” – 2008.

        Once again, thank you.

  22. 22 spammay

    Welcome to DB!
    I love your review and its exactly how I felt when I watched this movie!

    Oooh. I watched this on Netflix Instant… I think the subtitles were okay 🙂

  23. 23 leiz

    thanks for the review

    one of the best korean movie 🙂

  24. 24 Arhazivory

    Thanks only1tony. I found this movie to be quite excellent and I think you chose a very good one as the start to future reviews. I’m still new to the kmovie land, so I’ll be looking forward to some more reviews/recaps. 😀

  25. 25 Rachael

    Thanks for the movie review only1tony! I watched it on instant netflix and it was pretty intense. I found it sometimes overshadowed the relationship between Tae-shik and So-mi due to the fascination of the underbelly. Not to mention it was creepily gorgous with great minor acting (I think that ajumma was one of my favorite minor characters), and awesome shots. Haha, thanks again for making me have a mini reliving of the movie!

    A second on adding comparisons to other movies, since general readers will find themselves doing it (It was the movie Taken for me). To get around those who could be lost, maybe make the name of the movie a link to imbd or wikipedia? Considering it might not always be needed to know the plot of another movie if you’re just comparing scenes, for instance, and how they were simliar or different.

    My other suggestion is consider bringing up how censorship and things like societal/gender roles are placed in the movies. Granted, feel free to talk general cinematography! Just an example would be the date rape. That really struck me for how different it was because it was there for only a couple minutes of suggestion and done. Nothing really explicit, which is interesting since other movies would’ve taken the extra time to hone in on that to reinforce his vileness. It can bring another layer that is pretty fascinating since it unconsciously helps shape our viewpoints of a movie.

    • 25.1 only1tony

      Dear Rachael,

      Thank you for that. I actually minored in Feminine and Gender Studies in University so I am also quite intrigued by societal gender roles and the use of sexuality in films. I am glad to hear that I am not the only one. Thank you for your suggestions.


      • 25.1.1 Rachael

        Hi only1tony!

        You’re welcome and I’ll be excited to see your next review. Great! You can really use your background to bring in the various angles surrounding the topics and it’ll appeal to general readers. So feel free to point things out you found interesting since there will be others who would find it interesting too. You can definately experiment in your first reviews on how and what you want readers to notice as you’re sorting out what your reviewer mode is.

    • 25.2 Rachael

      Ack, here I go being long winded again >.>

      Final suggestion! You take really great choices for screen caps first off. Really ace. I think they can help with the (mentioned) above choppiness. Considering how in recaps the images let readers keep track of the general flow of the episode this can also help you while reviewing when intially getting your thoughts together. This can also keep your thoughts a little more organized and you have more freedom since you don’t have to go in order for a movie review. You already have some moments where you started doing it even. Just needs to be a little more consistent in how does the image add to what you’re writing and/or what do you want a reader to notice (in consideration of your text) about that (or those) particular image(s).

    • 25.3 jcl

      ummmm, there was a date rape in Ahjushi? Why can’t I remember that being in there? The criminal underbelly dealings were creepy as all get out.

  26. 26 masamijpn

    thanks tony for a great review.will look forward for the next one

  27. 27 cv

    Thanks much for the review!
    I”ll have to agree, this is a really great movie. I got teary eyes when I watched it. The fighting scene was awasome. Won Bin can act and fight. I hope to see more of him in movies/dramas.

  28. 28 TiaC

    1. Great review, and great new feature! Cheers, only1tony!

    2. I just watched this last week on Netflix, and thought it was fantastic. I was concerned that it was just going to be a retelling of Leon the Professional (French hitman befriends young girl, protects from dangerous men), and shied away from watching it for a while. But I finally sat down to watch it and found the characters to be well-developed and the story tightly constructed. And the special effects were awesome (that window shot was THRILLING!!!)

  29. 29 daisy

    thank you for the great review. I liked this movie a lot, Won Bin’s acting was amazing.

  30. 30 tinysunbl

    Am I the only one who fell in love with the villains, played by Kim Hee Won and Kim Sung Oh?

    The first half of The Man from Nowhere is interesting enough. Great chemistry and dynamics between Won Bin and Kim Sae Ron. For me it gets progressively boring and pop-corn-flicky toward the end. Why can’t they find a better backstory for Won Bin’s character? Conversation reduces to minimal and most of the time in the second half you only hear screams or broken noises. As the director was busy with creating the most stylishly gory scenes ever, and Won Bin was busying kicking asses, Kim Hee Won and Kim Sung Oh provide me with some much appreciated human touches.

    • 30.1 tinysunbl

      Forgot… Thank you for your review and congrats on making the debut at dramabeans

    • 30.2 only1tony

      Dear tinysunbl,

      I agreed. I mentioned them above as being marvelous at their roles and they really made the movie more quirky and even funny at times.


  31. 31 Kkim

    Welcome! Thanks for the review. I look forward to reading more of your reviews. I just wasted my time watching black mini dress and if someone told me more about the premise, I doubt I would have watched it with so much expectation. Thanks agin for the review.

  32. 32 pixie

    yay! a movie reviewer at DB land! welcome only1tony! i watched this movie when it was shown here in the US and bought the dvd when it was released. i’ve rewatched it so many times because i just love the fighting scenes and the Tae-shik/So-mi relationship. omg, i’ve been trying to remember where i’ve seen Kim Sung-oh when i watched Secret Garden until you mentioned him here lol! it never connected to me that Secretary Kim and baddie Jong-seok are one and the same!

    great review! one suggestion that i can think of, would it be possible to make recommendations similar to the movie you just reviewed? Like, “if you enjoyed this movie check out: blah blah blah” lol! i think that’s another way to check out other movies we’ve never heard of.

    • 32.1 only1tony

      Dear pixie,

      Yes! That is a great idea. I will try to include that in my next review. Thank you for the suggestion.


  33. 33 Elise

    I watched this movie in the train a month ago, and i passed out because the violence was just too much to handle.
    It might be good and everything, and it is, but its really hardcore gore.

  34. 34 Laica

    Thank you for this wonderful review and welcome to Dramabeans! I’ll be looking forward to reading more from you.

    I had heard how good this movie was, but to be honest I have a bit of a chicken-heart when it comes to movies like this. (And like you, I also dread horror movies.) But your review definitely made me reconsider. Plus I didn’t realize until now that Kim Sae-ron is in this. I adored her in Can You Hear My Heart.

    I’ll have to watch this now… on a day I’m in a very good mood, lol.

  35. 35 angryparsnip

    Sometimes films will be mentioned but now to have someone who can review movies will be so helpful. Great first review.
    Thanks to everyone for such a wonderful idea. We are all so lucky.

    cheers, parsnip

  36. 36 Zoee

    Thanz for the recap, i freaking love it!! OMG Just the fact Won Bin is in it with his angelic beauty is enough to watch!!

  37. 37 tegami

    Dear only1tony:

    Thanks for your review! I’ll be looking forward to future reviews from you!
    Since you asked for feedback, I thought I should just put my two cents in :3
    The praises you showered on The Man from Nowhere, which while had me nodding my head in agreement, made me cringe a little when it got a little too far-reaching. I think a good rule of thumb to keep in mind when writing reviews is: less is more. The reader may, in the end, be a little put off if the review slowly becomes a slew of positive hyperbole and cliched remarks that borders on to (and for lack of a better word) cheesiness. For example: the line about your heart being ripped out of your chest, thrown across the world, etc. seemed like over-exagerration which undermines the integrity of the review. More critical commentary on the film is needed too. There were a few lines throughout where you talked about the technical aspects, the plot, performance, and characters but they were awashed with more praises than were necessary. Try going a little more in depth and analytical; you could have taken some of the issues portrayed in the film and taken them to a broader prospect. What were the messages the filmakers were trying to say about korean society and human relationships within that construct? Because some of the stuff seen here would never have been inluded in most network dramas! Your review, I felt, only really skimmed through what could have been discussed and explored so much more for a film like this.

    • 37.1 only1tony

      Dear tegami,

      I thank you for your criticism. In actuality, I would really like to cover a very large breadth of subjects in relation to this movie but I was limited. I do agree that it did in fact sometimes overindulge in accolades for the movie. I really did like this movie and will take into consideration about delving in deeper into the crux of the social issues and subject matter. I think though that sometimes being superficial is okay too, just enough to try to get people to actually watch it (which was my ultimate goal). I definitely agree with you in terms of less is more. I promise to try to be less repetitious, and more analytical. Thank you for your comments because they really will make my next review that much better.


  38. 38 umalily

    I loved how you don’t see Wo Bin’s character fight for at least two scenes. You just see unconscious or dead bodies but you don’t see the fight (kind of like you don’t see the shark in Jaws for a while). Later you see some amazing stunt work and knife fighting sequence. Thoroughly enjoyable if you can handle the violence.
    The little girl also melted my heart of stone. The little girl says that it would hurt her to hate Ajussi because she has no one to love is so poignant and fresh. I never imagined anyone saying that let alone a little girl with eyes as old as time.

  39. 39 nabithoj

    Thanks for the review.

    I’ve seen this movie probably too much to count. Saw it the first time, bought it and watch it whenever I am bored. Won Bin is just too hot to not watch. XXD

    But to me the plot isn’t very creative. Actually when I first read the synopsis and saw the trailer the first thing that came to my mind was the American thriller starring Denzel Washington and Dakota Fanning called “Man on Fire.” It has the same storyline with some differences, but the plot that moves the movie along is essentially the same.

    If you have time you should also watch it. The movie is also pretty sad and heartbreaking. “Man on Fire” and “The Man From Nowhere” makes you come to realize how much one person can influence someone who is so dejected and depressed with life. It makes you not take yourself or others for granted.

    • 39.1 only1tony

      Dear nabithoj,

      I actually came really close to mentioning “Man on Fire”. It was very similar in terms of plot (although “Man on Fire” did have the whole racial distance to play with also). I think I will definitely try to relate to other known movies, whether they be American, Korean or other country of origin. Thanks for the feedback.


      • 39.1.1 Christopher

        I’ve been talking this movie up to friends and referencing “The Professional” and “Taken,” but as you stated in your review this movie offers so much more (And I love “The Professional”!!). The beautiful cinematography and the grittiness really allow you to immerse yourself in the movie-watching experience as it pulls you along with scenes that induce tears, fist-pumping cheers, and horror (some of those fight scenes were so realistic that they truly stunned me – the death of Ramrowan in particular was stunningly shocking, especially his final death rattle).

        You nailed it with Won Bin and his eyes. With limited dialogue to use, a lesser actor might have fallen flat, but Won Bin and the movie as a whole use that to heighten the emotionality as the plot drives relentlessly towards its inevitable climax. Ultimately, any movie that can put you through so much emotion and leave you drained at the end but also so fulfilled as a movie goer is a very good movie indeed.

        Thanks for the review, and I hope your future reviews will cover both older and newer films. I also second the suggestion of including similar films you would also recommend.

  40. 40 lenrasoon

    oooo that’s a good surprise! i didn’t think DB would have a movie review, yay!

    and only1tony welcome here! i like what you wrote about the movie, i really enjoyed TMFN and the ending made me cry so much.

    I can’t wait to read your next review ^_^

  41. 41 Joy

    Super freaking fantastic movie review. Finally something so high quality and well done for Korean movies! DB is now THE one stop shop for all things Korean entertainment from the big screen to the small.

  42. 42 Yer Vang

    I frecking love this movie 🙂

  43. 43 Thebelovedvampire

    Hello, Just wanted to welcome you & thank you for recapping Movies now *_* this is just awesome. I Loved this movie & I watched it with passion <3 I am sooo keen on reading ur future recaps about the most awesome K-movies out there ^_^
    this movie somehow made me think of 2 movies :
    man On Fire
    but still I didn't feel exact similarities with those movies what I mean is that although the storyline might have major similarities it is acted so well , & different scenes are so great that u forgot about those 2 movies & only watch this one wholeheartedly *_* one of the greatest K-movie I have watched <3
    Thanks again for ur awesomeness

  44. 44 beppu10

    Omo, this is so great a news! Ever since I began reading drama recaps @ DB I was always wondering if they are also blogging on korean movies as I am very fond of them. Now that I saw this, I would like to thank you for picking this gargantuan project (although I do love watching asian movies way before DB I don’t have a decent time and effort to pull off something like this). I’m looking forward to your next reviews!

    P.S. I just saw your reply on one of the above comments on your interest in feminist and gender studies. I have watched Aja Aja Bare Aja/ Come, Come, Come Upward (1989) and I learned that it’s one of the best-known films by Im Kwon Taek. Have you seen this? I’d like to know your thoughts about it.

    Hopefully you get to review not only modern movies but also the old/classic ones. Thanks so much!

  45. 45 koreandramalover / kdl / kay

    Finished reading your review and I must say I am surprised that it was more of a general review of the movie, while I was expecting (perhaps influenced by how JB and Girlfriday do their recaps of K-dramas) a scene-by-scene review, with your personal thought, feelings and takeaways from them.

    You have a flair for clear, highly-expressive, articulate, emotion-filled, smooth-as-silk flow of writing, and I especially enjoy reading your personal thoughts and feelings on the movie.

    I have watched the movie and I can still remember every single amazingly-made and unforgettable scene and I appreciate how aptly you are able to verbalise my admiration for how well-made and well-acted this movie is.

    However, I was wondering if for future reviews, if it is not possible for you to do a scene-by-scene review, then perhaps as many of the more important scenes as you are able to do? It would allow for a more detailed and precise insight into the messages/moral behind the scenes in particular and on the movie on the whole.

    Once again, A JOB WELL DONE!!! Congratulations!!! 😉

    Looking forward to your future reviews!! 🙂

    • 45.1 Shiku

      I also thought it would be an in-depth review not a general one but am fine with either of them

      • 45.1.1 koreandramalover / kdl / kay

        I agree with you, Shiku! I am also fine with how ever only1tony wishes to do the review!! I am just so happy there IS such a review!! 😉

    • 45.2 only1tony

      Dear kdl,

      So I would love to do a scene-by-scene recap, but I feel that my goal is not to tell you the movie verbatim, rather, it is to capture your interest so you can go see it yourself. I tried to give some detail in terms of some of the scenes you can expect, but I did not want to be a complete spoiler. I hope this makes sense? Thank you for your input, it really will help shape my future reviews.


      • 45.2.1 koreandramalover / kdl / kay

        Dear only1tony 😉

        Thank you so much for your explanation on why you wrote the way that you have. You make perfect sense, don’t you worry! 😉

        And having given it more thought, I am ALL for your intention of doing a review which tantalises the senses with a few carefully-chosen details about/from the movie you are reviewing, such that those who have yet to watch the movie may be intrigued enough by your review to watch it! You have the right idea!! Well done!! Keep up the fantastic work!! 😉

        Anyway, however you wish to do your review is fine with me! You have already won a fan in me with this fabulous first review!! Great work! 😉

        So looking forward to your future reviews! 😉

        Fighting! 😉

        PS : Btw, may I know what your screen-name “only1tony” means? It is intriguing and unique! 😉


        • only1tony

          Dear kdl,

          Sure I can try to explain it. Basically when I was little everyone in my family called me tony, but one day I heard my neighbor being called tony as well. Of course being an egocentric 6 year old I was crushed to realize that I was not the only Tony in the world. I moped for days and finally my mom came over and said “you know there are lots of Tonys in the world, but there is only one tony as special as you”. It is dorky and cliched but I just liked the phrase. So there is the story of my name.


          • koreandramalover / kdl / kay

            Dear only1tony 😉

            Awww…such a lovely, heartwarming and sweet story behind your one-of-a-kind name! Thanks so much for sharing!! 😉

            And may I say how truly blessed of you to have such an awesome mother!! And she cannot be more right – in the eyes of those who love you, there is NO other Tony as special and awesome as you are! Nothing dorky about the words that come from the heart of a mother for her incomparable offspring!! Not at all!! 😉

  46. 46 grateful1

    “Dramabeans~ now with movie reviews.” You mean DB is becoming even more awesome?… and it doesn’t involve JB and GF being stretched thinner than they already are? How cool is that?! Haha– I feel a bit like I would if Apple had just unveiled some amazing new product.

    Welcome aboard, only1tony! I only read the first part of your review because I haven’t seen the film yet (I’ve been wanting to, but need to steel myself for the experience). However, I read enough of your review to get excited by the fact that you seem to be a good writer. I also think it’s great that another male voice is being added to DB (especially that of someone who’s enlightened enough to have minored in Feminine and Gender Studies).

    I really appreciate your willingness to try to give your readers what they want, but in order for your review series to be sustainable in the long-term, it’s better if you don’t bend over backwards too much trying to please everyone. (‘Tis an impossible task, anyway.) I think it’d be a good idea if your first few posts focused on films that you like (and/or enjoy writing about). I’m looking forward to subsequent reviews and am grateful that you’ve agreed to be a regular contributor to DB. What a great Chuseok present!

    • 46.1 only1tony

      Dear grateful1,

      I promise that I will still do movie reviews of movies I love or find really interesting. In fact I already have some artsy movies in mind that may not appeal to everyone. I know I can not appease everyone and all I can promise is my best in terms of movie reviews. Thanks for the encouragement and insight and I will take it into consideration. Fighting!!!


  47. 47 Ingrid

    So, this is like the Man on Fire, by Denzel Washington, Dakota Fanning and Marc Anthony! Very good!

  48. 48 koreandramalover / kdl / kay

    Just to add something that struck me as unforgettable in this review. I couldn’t help but smile at these words :

    “Sigh. I wish I could have Won Bin as my best friend and mysterious neighbor!”

    So much fun to read about fangirlyness esp because I am one of the gazillion number of Won Bin fans who would echo those very words over and over again! hehehe…

    However, I would like to say that perhaps because we so easily lose ourselves in the character that Won Bin has been able to portray so spectacularly-and-unforgettably-well in this equally spectacularly-and-unforgettably-well-made movie, that we may have trouble diassociating the character from the actor playing the character. Won Bin’s real self, his real character, may actually be a world away from this character that he played so well but it is precisely because his portrayal made us think and feel as if he IS the character that he plays seeing as how he seemed to be completely lost in his character on-screen, then we should be faulted for being lost along with him…

    But from the little information I gathered about him from the few times he has been interviewed, I could sense parallels between his real self and the characteristics shown in this ‘Ajusshi’ character – characteristics I could sum up as stealthily-calm, serene and succinct. Won Bin, the actor, seems to be a man of few words and he gives off such a cool, calm and serene vibe every time he comes on screen during interviews, that I can’t help but feel that this character is perhaps the closest to his real character that any other character he has portrayed so far. 😉

    • 48.1 koreandramalover / kdl / kay

      ooops!! typos :


      *we should NOT be faulted for being lost along with him*

  49. 49 Shiku

    Hi Tony, welcome to the DB family and thanks for the review.

    Rather than the relationship between Won Bin’s and Kim Sae-ron’s characters, I was more impressed with the relationship between the girl and Ramrowan. They didn’t spend a lot of time together but they were able to establish a connection or have some understanding between themselves that spurred him to save her from her eyeless demise.

    I thought the bad guy brothers were catoonish so I would have liked if they didn’t overact. I also wished the violence wasn’t so gratuitous but I was okay with it.

    I still liked the movie as it was one of the few movies that left me satisfied rather than some vague feelings of discomfort or being unsatisfied.

    Am I the only one who was reminded of the 1994 movie ‘the Professional” starring Jean Reno and Natalie Portman? Natalie Portman played a 12 year old girl with a dysfunctional family and Jean Reno played her neighbour who was a hit-man. The relationship between Natalie and Reno was similar to the one between Won Bin and Sae-Ron although Won Bin didn’t teach Sae-ron how to fight.

    • 49.1 koreandramalover / kdl / kay

      No, Shiku, you are not the only one to find parallels between TMFN with The Professional because I too feel the same way!! 😉

      But I find the characters in TMFN closer to home mainly because I am of mainly Asian descent… 😉

  50. 50 webfoot

    Hello Tony

    Thanks for the review and welcome to DBland!

    Not really a critique, more like a request:

    In future, could you separate out the spoiler bits? I’ve seen Ahjussi (thumbs up!) so nothing was spoiled for me, but sometimes your readers are reading your review to decide if they want to watch it, in which case you may want to flag the spoiler bits or keep it till the end of the review.

    It really depends on what you want to do with this slot you’ve been given – write a full recap ala JB and GF or a partial recap with an assessment of the move (what I understand to be a movie review) for potential watchers.

    • 50.1 only1tony

      Dear webfoot,

      So I tried to play more on the side of caution by not telling you the ending but I will be mindful of spoilers next time. I can not guarantee anything concrete, but I will try to be more mindful of it. Thank you for the suggestion.


      • 50.1.1 Webfoot

        Thanks! Just to be clear – it really is up to you whether you want to include spoilers or not. I’m looking forward to the next movie review! and since you are taking requests… 🙂

        I just watched ‘South of the Border’ with Cha Seung Won (bawlfest) and I would love to have a native speakers’ take on that one.

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