stylized, impressive Korean cop thriller. Spectrum DVD Korean R3 2-disc
set, includes Original, and shorter International releases.
- A man is brutally put to the sword in a drug related killing. Two
homicide officers, Detectives Woo and Kim (Dong-Kun Jang) are put on
the case. Although not quite the odd-couple,
Woo is prepared to go to any lengths to solve the case, and break every
rule in the book, while Kim is the voice of reason. Working their way
through the criminal underworld, they eventually identify the killer as
Chang Sungmin, but finding and catching him proves to be hard and
costly for both concerned.
Although sounding like a standard American buddy-cop film, Nowhere to Hide
stays clear of the genre cliches. Although Woo and Lee are often
mismatched, and Lee often has to stop Woo's violent 'questioning' of
the criminals, they have seemingly been working together for a while
and are not brought together just for this operation as in so many
buddy-cop films. The characters are well written, and the storyline
flows effectively between the different set-pieces, although often without
explanation of what has gone on in the gaps. The script, penned by
director Myung-se Lee, is generally light hearted and fun; decently
paced it has an inevitable but exciting climax. However, the film is
let down when the script tries to include some more serious topics - Kim
is distressed when he kills a knifeman and becomes very upset, but this
is cleared up by a snowball fight - Myung-se Lee would have been
better keeping the film light hearted, or making it serious throughout,
his attempts to mix and match are the main negative points of the script.
Stylistically, Nowhere to Hide
has everything going on... From the grainy black and white opening
sequence, to the slow motion fightscenes and strobe lighting nightclub
interior, almost every other scene in the film has some sort of digital
stylisation present. Fortunately, this near continual use of the
effects is less jarring than more infrequent use; the random occurences
suggest that Myung-se Lee doesn't seem to be making any sort of point
with the use of slow motion or black and white, just using them for effect. Overall, it is quite
subjective whether or not you will enjoy the effects, or just find
them highly irritating - personally I felt they elevated the film from
the gritty cop-dramas we've seen too many of, and pushed it into the
world of cinema fantasy. Production values for the film are very
strong, it was the second highest grossing Korean film of the year, and
the sets and effects all look good. The soundtrack is a mix of BeeGees,
Korean pop music, light classical sounds, and oddly a Spaghetti Western
style theme that crops up on occasion, it suits the film well enough.
Overall, whether you like Nowhere to Hide
or not will depend on how well you can put up with the frequent
stylization effects - whether you think it is clever editing, or
just a director let loose with a special effects module. The storyline
is not revolutionary, but far enough removed from the cliche buddy-cop
films to keep it interesting.
Anyone famous in it?
Dong-Kun Jang went on to headline Korean war film Taegukgi (2004).
Directed by anyone interesting?
Myung-se Lee - has done nothing else of note.
Some action packed fight scenes.
Who is it for?
Has a general appeal. Fans of modern Asian cinema, especially action/cop films should enjoy.
Very mixed track, includes "Holiday" from Bee Gee's as well as Korean tracks, fits well.
2-disc Korean DVD includes the original and international cuts of
the film. The international cut is missing about 12 minutes, mostly of
non-plot scenes, and flows a little faster, but does not change the plot
particularly - although unless you want to watch the film dubbed you
are unlikely to watch the shorter cut. The English subtitles on the
film are okay, although the translation is notably poorer in
the scenes not present in the international cut. Although there is
a long list of extra features, most of them are very brief, and a good
making-of documentary would have been preferable.
Original Aspect Ratio - 1.85:1 widescreen. Anamorphically enhanced. Colour.
The disc is strong visually, good colours, some light print damage is evident in certain scenes.
Original cut includes Korean language, Dolby 5.1 and DTS 5.1 surround sound
International cut includes Korean, Japanese and English dubs, Dolby Stereo.
Original cut includes English, Chinese and Japanese.
International cut includes English, Spanish, Japanese and French.
Main Features - Original version: 1h 51m 55s International cut: 1hr 40m 25s
The discs include:
Two original theatrical trailers - letterboxed (1m 53s + 2m 28s)
Four international trailers - letterboxed (1m 42s + 1m 44s + 1m 47s + 1m 49s)
Bee Gee's 'Holiday' music video edited from the film (2m 53s).
Bee Gee's 'Holiday' live onstage performance (1m 42s).
'Somewhere to Hide' - composite background shots of the filming of selected action sequences, no dialogue. (7m 12s)
'Actor's Chat' - on camera interviews with three leading cast, unsubtitled Korean. (7m 49s)
Manually scrolling gallery of promotional and behind the scenes shots from the film.
'CG vs. final cut' - sequence showing some subtle digital effects inserted into the film, no dialogue. (1m 38s)
Korean language onscreen filmography of three leading cast and director.
Images of international DVD covers.
Edited International Version' - scenes cut from the international
version, letterboxed, unsubtitled, no additional dialogue. (5m 39s)
Fold-out insert, information on director/actions/production. Korean language.
Fold-out hardboard digipack. Includes insert.
Region 3 (Asia) - NTSC
Mostly English language, easy to navigate.
Various single disc international releases, containing International cut of the film. This DVD is the best release of the film thus far.
Both versions of the film are included. The original cut, and an
international cut that was shown overseas - this runs 12 minutes
shorter, and is missing a few non-essential scenes cut for pacing
rather than violence.
decently written cop film, although the highly stylised look of the
film may put some some off, it is recommended to everyone else.
Decent presentation of the film - but despite the long list of extras, nothing particularly informative.