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Category:    Home > Reviews > Action > Martial Arts Cycle > Korea > Britain > Comedy > Man From Nowhere (aka Ajeossi/2010/Well Go USA Blu-ray + DVD) + Shopping (1994/Severin DVD) + Wild Target (2010/Fox Blu-ray)

Man From Nowhere (aka Ajeossi/2010/Well Go USA Blu-ray + DVD) + Shopping (1994/Severin DVD) + Wild Target (2010/Fox Blu-ray)

 

Picture: B (DVDs: C+)†††† Sound: B/B-/C+/B†††† Extras: C/B-/C-†††† Films: C+

 

 

Foreign action films can bring new things to the genre, but sometimes they do not, even when they have interesting elements going for them.Here are three such films.

 

Lee Jeong-beomís Man From Nowhere (2010) comes from Korea and has some moments martial arts fans will enjoy, including some of the more interesting fights weíve seen lately, some nice locales, some interesting actors and some clever camera work that is interesting for a change.However, the film and screenplay take on more than they can handle and this limits what could have potentially been a worldwide hit and possibly genre classic.

 

Cha Tae-shik (Bin Won) is the neighbor of a family about to be terrorized by gangsters who like to rob people of their organs to sell on the open market and have a sick thing for children.The child-in-jeopardy angle hurts this film, but they do not dwell as much on it, as if that helped.In addition, the script wants to use it for melodramatic purposes that also do not work or adds up.Cha gets involved and has to battle the unknown and killers to save the mother and daughter.Some of this is interesting, some bad and some predictable, but they should have stuck with the revenge angle and added another fight because once it goes off course, it never recovers.Genre fans will want to catch it though, so they can see what does work.

 

Shopping (1994) is the directing debut of Paul W.S. Anderson and stars Sadie Frost (The Krays, Empire State) and Jude Law (in the film that brought them together at the time) decide to go on a smash and grab spree, but the law and some undesirable people want to stop them.Too bad they cannot stop themselves.Anderson (Event Horizon) did much with his low budget at a time when England was not making such films, but the energy and pace helps this film hold up, even as it has aged a bit.It was definitely a controversial film in its time and a minor classic of British cinema for what it achieved.Sean Pertwee (Prick Up Your Ears, Soldier, Equilibrium), Jonathan Pryce, Sean Bean, Marianne Faithful and Jason Isaacs are among the strong supporting cast and it is worth a look as well.It is also a rare portrait of an England now gone.

 

Finally we have Wild Target (2010), from one-time writer Jonathan Lynn (see The Internecine Project reviewed elsewhere on this site) back directing.Except for maybe My Cousin Vinny and Nuns On The Run, his work (The Whole Nine Yards, Greedy, Sgt. Bilko) has usually been weak.He does some of his better work in this comedy that is part of an occasional cycle that shows up, especially in British cinema: the hitman comedy.

 

Bill Nighy (Pirate Radio, Glorious 39, the Harry Potter films) is ace assassin Victor Maynard, who is not as good as he used to be, driven a bit nuts by his mother (Eileen Atkins of Cold Comfort Farm, Let Him Have It and Nicholsí Wolf) whose new paid mission is to kill a young woman (Emily Blunt of The Devil Wears Prada, Charlie Wilsonís War and the Wolfman remake) and young thief who tries to con a art-loving gangster (Rupert Everett) out of big money for a fake version of a classic stolen painting.Turns out more than Maynard are after her and the madness drags in the even younger Tony (Rupert Grint) into the madness.

 

This is amusing, but is also all over the place and does not always hold together logically, but there is some chemistry with the actors and those interested might find enough moments to justify seeing it.Too bad it was not a better script considering they had so much going for them in this remake of a French film.

 

 

The 1080p 2.35 X 1 digital High Definition image transfers on the Blu-rays look good and despite some shots that are soft or limited, offer nice performance throughout.Nowhere has some great color (note the night shots too) that are more impressive than similar such films we have seen lately.I like the look enough at its best, but other scenes and locales are not as interesting and are among those that are flatter.The anamorphically enhanced DVD version is much weaker with poorer Video Black and cannot handle the color range.Target is an AVC @ 23 MBPS disc that has some nice shots of England and is well composed throughout.That leaves the anamorphically enhanced 1.85 X 1 image on Shopping, which is a big improvement over the old (unreviewed) DVD version, but also comes up short on Video Black and detail, though I wonder if a Blu-ray would look better.

 

The Blu-rays have DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 mixes and they both perform pretty well throughout with sound effects and music filling the soundstage nicely.They are not exceptional mixes, but they are very professionally finished, which is nice.The Nowhere DVD only has a Dolby Digital 5.1 mix that is decent for the format, but like the picture, no match for the Blu-ray and both sound much better in their original Korean presentations than the unfortunate English dubs.That leaves the 5.1 mix on Shopping trying to upgrade the original theatrical Dolby A-type analog sound and though it gets rid of the harshness of the older DVD, you can also hear limits in the recording, though maybe a lossless mix on a future Blu-ray would play better.

 

Extras include making of interview featurettes form the time of the making of each respective film on all their discs.Nowhere adds trailers and highlights, while Shopping offers a really good feature length audio commentary by Anderson & Producer Jeremy Bolt, a featurette with both and trailers.

 

 

-†† Nicholas Sheffo


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