peteg's blog - noise - movies - 2024 03 05 NowhereToHide

Nowhere to Hide (1999)

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What is it with Koreans and their trains! There's Snowpiercer and Train to Busan of course, but before those there was this exercise in all-style-no-substance from Lee Myung-se. I have no problem with that in principle — I'd be happy to get with the program — but here the most stylish bit is the intro.

Notionally a police-procedural noir, it's really a series of set pieces lifted from other movies and wildly reworked. There's a huge debt owed to Sergio Leone (soundtrack, negative space, outdoor spaces, intertitles, ...) and the hard workers in Hong Kong (such as John Woo who the lead is named for). The spirit of Tarantino haunts some of it though he'd never go with such a weak script. I watched it in about four sittings so I can't remember what the motivation was for the epic police search for some criminal mastermind. Lead Joong-Hoon Park ultimately takes an epic beating from him (Ahn Sung-ki) in the rain, in a train yard, in a scene that may've been lifted shot-for-shot in a Matrix sequel. I found the Trainspotting-esque legging-it scenes to be the most amusing.

Prompted by Mike Hale in the New York Times in 2019. Peter Bradshaw in 2001: a bit John Woo, some Ridley Scott. Elvis Mitchell. Stephanie Zacharek: Wong Kar-Wai. The second half is more conventional than the first. City on Fire.