Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Nowhere To Hide (1999)

Nowhere To Hide (1999)

September 2nd, 7:00PM in Garland 104 (2441 E. Hartford)

The film opens with a black and white shot of Detective Woo (Park Joong-Hoon) walking along what looks like a desolate industrial area only to come upon a series of gang members abusing an old man. At this point it flashes to a similar scene of his partner Detective Kim (Jang Dong-Kun) encountering a armed man on a train, from this point onward the scene keeps going back and forth between the two as they are each involved in there own respective fights using odd camera angles and slow motion. This opening really sets the mood and style for the rest of the film.

The plot revolves around the two detectives investigation into the murder of a crime boss by a mysterious man played by Ahn Sung-kee. They do this by setting out on a series of stakeouts which leads them eventually to a woman named Juyon (Choi Ji-Woo) who they believe has some connection to the murderer.
Few Korean films have generated as many mixed comments as this one. Its detractors claim gratuitous violence, style over substance and a week and pointless plot. Its supporters contend that it is filled with beautifully striking cinematography and has the style of a modern day film noire. The film itself has some degree of similarity with other South Korean black-comedies like Guns and Talks (2001) and Public Enemy (2002). But in other ways it is much closer to the Italian Poliziotteschi genre which also centers around cops who use fascist means to achieve there goal, the American film Dirty Harry (1971) is a good example of a non Italian film that falls into this genre. But again it only has some basic similarities, the film itself has a strange mix of these and many other elements.
Its main strength resides in its daring cinematography which is going a mile a minute throughout. Also the films soundtrack is equally as jarring, with the Bee Gees song Holiday used to great effect and a rock version of the classic Korean song Hae Ddeul Nal preformed by Cherry Filter.

The charge of style over substance is something that the film may in a way be guilty of but in a positive way. While many find there is much more substance here then some give it credit for, its style is so fresh, fast paced and enjoyable that even if that is all there was it could just about carry the film on that alone. There are also a series of scenes which some believe are subtle homages to a range of other films. They include elements from Sergei Eisenstein’s Battleship Potemkin (1925) and The Third Man (1949).

South Korea, Director Lee Myung-Sae, Cast Park Joong-Hoon, Ahn Sung-Ki, Chang Dong-Gun and Park Sang-Myeon, 112 minutes, in Korean with English subtitles

No comments: