Nowhere To Hide
"I may be using bad examples but fuck it - it's your choice."
- Mighty Peking Man
Nowhere To Hide (2000)
Director: Lee Myung-sae
Writer: Lee Myung-sae
Producer: Chung Tae-Won
Cast: Joong-Hoon Park (Woo), Dong-Kun Jang, Ji-Woo Choi, Sung-kee Ahn, Sang Myun Park, Jae Mo Ahn
Running Time: 112 min.
Plot: A gang murder on Inchon's 40 Steps leads a rough detective force of seven men, led by Detective Woo (Park) to hunt down a ruthless killer and leader of a massive drug cartel. It's a bloody, action-packed look that parodies police corruption and action films.
Availability: This title is available at HKflix.com
JOE909'S REVIEW: A mish-mash of style and substance, Nowhere to Hide is more focused than most other Korean movies I've seen. Which is to say, it doesn't clock in at an epic running time. The shorter length doesn't prevent flaws, though. As MPM points out, the opening credits alone prove that the filmmakers were trying to cover every base: a gritty murder scene gives way to colorful, upbeat opening credits. The rest of the film offers more contrasts, as well.
Park Joong Hoon is Inspector Woo, an almost cartoonish character. The man seems to run off Duracell batteries. There's barely a moment in the film where he's sitting still. He bounces off the walls and gets into scrapes at the drop of a hat, like a leaner version of Chris Farley. Still, he's a threatening individual, even though it looks like his wardrobe is from Old Navy.
Nowhere to Hide doesn't feature much in the part of character development; the attempt at filling out Woo's character toward the end of the film by meeting his sister's family comes off as lame, and villain Sungmin is more of a shadow than a physical presence. Nowhere to Hide is basically one long chase scene, with Woo and his colleagues on the hunt for Sungmin.
The action is scattered about the movie, and again it comes off as a cartoon. This movie features one of the longest on-foot chase scenes in film history, as Woo races after a con on the lam. There's also a fight in the dark between Woo and an underground boxer; the fight is mostly shown via shadows, and it looks like something out of an old Warner Brothers cartoon. And when Woo and Sungmin finally face off in the end, each can hurl the other several feet into the air with just one super-powered punch.
On the whole, I enjoyed this more than the more famous Korean movies I've seen, such as "Shiri" and "Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance." There's more of a Hong Kong style to this than most other Korean flicks, and everyone who's anyone knows that's a good thing.
JOE909'S REVIEW: 8/10
WOODY'S REVIEW: One of the coolest movies I've ever seen. Not one of the best, mind you, but it was certainly cool.
I'd be lying if I said I knew what the exact plot was (I was tired while watching it-fell asleep-had to rewind-got all confused), but I do know that it has cop Joong-Hoon Park and his partner chasing down this dude named Chang Sungmin, a pretty cool name if you ask me. Chang is a hardcore killer dude, and is really good at evading Joong-Hoon Park and his buddies at the Police Station. Bla bla bla, enough summarizing. The plot of this film is really not the important thing, it's the style.
This is one you may need to watch twice to really appreciate. The style may leave you shaking your head, saying "What the fuck was that?!?" It's got somber killings set to somber music that sets a really somber mood (somber--what a cool word), insane cartoon inspired slapstick fights, black and white to color and back, a brutal fight at the end, and a lot of shots where you'll be saying Keanu Reeves style "Whoa"s.
Now to say all of the usual stuff: Joong-Hoon Park and the dude who plays the killer with the kickass name are both really grrrrreat. If I had to fuck one Asian man, it would be Joon- alright, that's a lie. His last few movies may have been kinda not really sorta good, but if I had to fuck one Asian man, it would be Chow Yun Fat. Not that I'm gay or anything. -Cough-. The music in this movie is also really great, with that somber Bee Gees song and what sounded to me like a take on The Doors "Spanish Caravan".
Alright, fuck all of what I just wrote. Imagine Wong Kar Wai and Wong Jing working together with a really tight script. That's what this movie feels like. Lee Myung-sae, the director of this head trip of a film, is one to look out for.
In conclusion, Chow Yun Fat is still the world's most fuckable Asian man, Chang Sungmin is a cool name, and somber--God I love that word.
WOODY'S RATING: 9/10
MIGHTY PEKING MAN'S REVIEW: I jumped into this film not knowing what to expect other than the fact that it was a Korean crime film. Still, after the first 30 minutes, I was trying to get comfortable with what I was dealing with. It wasn't even the plot that I was trying to grasp. It was the overall style of the film that seemed to have as much assortment as a box of Crayola Crayons - the BIG box that came with the plastic sharpener; you know the one you could never talk your mommy into buying you which caused you to end up with the cheapy 12-color version.
Though not nearly as drastic as those acid-camera techniques seen in Oliver Stone's "Natural Born Killers", "Nowhere To Hide" falls somewhere in between that and the norm, maybe a little more towards the norm. The film opens with a black and white (with a sorta brownish tint) scene that introduces it's two main characters: hard-edged cops Joong-Hoon Park and his partner (It's gonna take a little time ID'ing these Korean actors so just bare with me). The light-action opening sequence comes with it all: sinister-like screams, extreme close-ups of things to be used as weapons, and exaggerated sounds of shoes screeching against the floor. And let's not forget slow-motion shots and freeze frames.
After all that black and white stuff, the big transition occurs. We get a fun-loving opening title sequence with the words "Nowhere To Hide" (in bright shades of purple) whizzing by thinking we have just been transported into another movie's credits. Following the credits of Prince's favorite color, we get to sit back and enjoy the tragic moment in which the movie revolves around: The "Inchon's 40 Steps" murder scene where our main bad guy, named Chang Sungmin, is about to do a very bad thing. During this entire scene, a nifty remake of the The Bee Gees' "Holiday" overlaps what's happening and gives it a very melancholy feeling - it almost seems like we're watching an MTV music video with some beautiful, and extremely violent, imagery.
Don't get me wrong, this isn't that "style over substance" bullshit that seems to be popping up more and more in recent films, especially Asian films. "Nowhere to Hide" definitely has a plot and cast that holds it's own , possibly enough to where we can almost ignore all the imagery flashing in and out of the movie. It's not everyday you see a movie where a guy punches another guy and he gets thrown 50 feet back, then boom, you're back to a gritty, dramatic, realistic crime story that you set yourself into. That's what makes this film so special.
The entire cast seemed to fit the spaces pretty good - especially Joong-Hoon Park who I really look forward to seeing in more films. He delivers a unique flavor to his tough-guy role which may take the average viewer a while to like or get used to, especially with that grin of his.
"Nowhere To Hide" is a definite must-see. It has a few minor flaws that includes a totally out-of-placed rock soundtrack (the soundtrack consists of many different types of music, but only the rock soundtrack is a bit annoying) that seems to come out of nowhere. It's also not your typically paced action film which may be a let down for some. Why don't we put it this way, If you can enjoy a Beat Takeshi film like "Fireworks" and also appreciate a film like "Gen X Cops" then you should be fine. I may be using bad examples but fuck it - it's your choice.
MIGHTY PEKING MAN'S RATING: 8/10