Nowhere To Hide

Nowhere To Hide

Rating: 9/10
Year: 1999
Genre: Action
Director: Lee Myung-Se
Cast: Park Joong-Hoon, Jang Dong-Gun, Ahn Sung-Gi, Choi Ji-Woo

The critical responses of Nowhere to Hide are quite extreme. Some people love it very much while some totally hate it. Personally, I am sure this film is not in my top 10 list, nevertheless, it is still one of the most important films produced in Korea in the last few years.

The plot of the film is strikingly plain and straigtforward. Don't expect any witty run and escape scenes as you have seen in Hong Kong films Running Out Of Time or The Longest Nite, nor any heroic duel like A Hero Never Dies, it is not like that at all. The story is a cliche. A drug boss is killed by Chang Sung-min (Ahn Sung-Gi). Detective Woo (Park Joong-Hoon) is assigned to investigate the case. Together with his partner (Jang Dong-Gun), they pursue the cunning Sung-min in a maze-like chase. The whole film is about the chase itself. At last, Woo and Sung-min have a final encounter in a coal mining town...

I belive the cliche of the story is done on purpose. Director Lee Myung-Se wants to use the cliche to break the cliche. The more the plot appears banal, the more you can notice the deviation. It is a film that requires you to see more than once. It is only through multiple viewings that you can get the most. The primary deviation is that the detective is not a gentleman wearing nice suit. Park Joong-Hoon breaks the typical image of detective in this genre. He does not wear suits, he is rude to girls, he fights with a bat instead of a pistol. He looks more like a gangster than a cop (One interesting comparison I found out is that Park's character resembles Takeshi Kitano in Violent Cop a lot. Both of them prefer violence as the only resort and their behaviors are unanimously spooky). Another deviation is the ending, the fight between Park Joong Hoon and Ahn Sung-Gi. When I saw it the first time, I was little startled by the result of their duel. Other scenes like the murder at the beginning are also totally refreshing and eye opening. The use of Bee Gees's Holiday as the background music is organic. It results in a striking conflict - a funky collision of peace (music) and violence (image).

In terms of the technical aspect of the film, the cinematography and the editing are quite stylistic. The filmmakers employ lots of slow and fast motions to capture the action of the characters. Heavy metal music and innovative editing techniques (jump cuts, dissolve...) are also seen in the chasing scenes. Whether it is successful or not is a very subjective question. If you are open minded and are a fan of experimental film, I am sure you would enjoy this film very much.

The only part that baffles me is the ending. After the case is closed, the ending scene features Park Joong Hoon waiting for Choi Ji Woo in a car. I don't really understand what the director wants to convey through this scene, since throughout the film, I don't think there is any romantic tie between the two.

In conclusion, this is a highly energetic and vigorous film. I respect the guts of the director. He is willing to push the infinite possibilities of cinema to extreme.

VCD (HK version) - The image and sound qualities are pretty good. Other than that, I really don't have much to say about the VCD.

Cool guy(s) - Park Joong-Hoon

Reviewed by: Kantorates