Spotlight on South Korean Cinema: Nowhere to Hide

I look at Lee Myung-se’s 1999 masterpiece Nowhere to Hide for part three of my Spotlight on South Korean Cinema series.

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The earliest film I show when teaching S. Korean Cinema is Lee Myung-se’s proto-New Wave classic Nowhere to Hide (1999), a movie misleadingly — and tragically — marketed as a John Woo-style action extravaganza by its distributor upon its U.S. theatrical release in 2000. (The confusion engendered by the marketing undoubtedly at least partially accounts for its surprisingly low aggregate rating of 44% on Rotten Tomatoes.) I believe this film could have been more successfully pitched to the art house crowd since more accurate and fruitful points of comparison can be made between it and early Jean-Luc Godard or the playful/surreal yakuza movies of Seijun Suzuki. While Nowhere to Hide can technically be described as an “action movie,” one should hasten to add the caveat that its director is less interested in action as physical violence than in the aesthetic properties of action as movement. Lee’s thoughtfully stylized, experimental approach can perhaps best be gleaned by a quote that appeared in the film’s original press-kit: “In a Monet painting the theme is not the water lily. The water lily is just the object to paint light upon. As it floats, we see its reflection on the water, and that is what we call painterly. My intention is the same. In this film, I wanted to show the filmic. The story and the characters are not the main focus of my film. Movement is. Movement enters the other elements in this film to create kinetic action.” The man isn’t kidding: Lee studied footage of everything from animal movement to World Cup soccer matches in order to figure out how to best capture his performers in motion.

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Since the story and the characters are not Lee’s focus, they won’t be mine here either. Instead, I’d like to hone in on one specific scene in the film, a celebrated sequence in which an assassin plies his trade in the rain to the strains of the Bee-Gees’ “Holiday.” (This early scene serves as the catalyst for what little plot there is — with the rest of the movie essentially boiling down to one long chase between two cops and the killer.) The scene begins with a montage of shots depicting people milling about on Inchon’s “40 Steps,” a large public staircase outside of a shopping mall. Lee employs freeze-frames at the scene’s beginning to draw viewer attention to specific details in the location (the saturated yellow of the autumn leaves on the ground and an overhead shot of a boy covering his head with a newspaper indicate the time of year and the weather) while a title informs viewers of the exact time of day (“12:10:58 P.M.”). A car pulls up to the location and the passenger-side window rolls down to reveal a sinister-looking character within: Sung-min (Ahn Sung-kee), the assassin, is wearing a trench-coat and sunglasses and smoking a cigarette while “casing” the location. Through the reflection of his glasses we see him insert a CD into the car stereo. The soft-psychedelic pop of the Bee-Gees’ “Holiday” (which, in case you didn’t know, is their greatest song ever) begins as the camera tracks alongside of the swirling leaves outside of the car. The rain starts to fall harder and passersby scatter in every direction seeking shelter. This allows Lee to introduce, with maximum effectiveness, the character of Sung-min’s “mark” — a man dressed in a suit who stands outside a doorway midway up the steps and calmly stares at the rain while pedestrians around him continue to scurry for cover.

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The scene ratchets up in intensity when Sung-min exits the car and walks slowly but purposefully through the downpour, glowering under the sunglasses that he’s still wearing, as Barry Gibb’s voice plaintively wails on the soundtrack: “Millions of eyes can see / Yet why am I so blind? / When the someone else is me / It’s unkind, it’s unkind.” At the same moment that the mark opens up and raises a black umbrella, Sung-min jumps in front of him while brandishing a long knife. In alternating close-ups between the two men, Lee shows Sung-min bring down the knife in slow-motion, cutting the umbrella in half. The mark then defensively raises his hand, which Sung-min slashes with his knife in a second economical blow. Lee again shows alternating close-ups of the men — this time with blood pouring down the mark’s face as viewers realize only in hindsight that the knife’s first blow must have connected with the top of the character’s head. The mark drops the briefcase he has been holding and falls over dead. Sung-min picks up the case (the film’s MacGuffin, we never know what it contains) and beats a hasty retreat in the direction from which he came. The minions of Sung-min and his victim soon engage in a fight on the steps as the screen dramatically fades to red. We then see Sung-min’s car fleeing the scene as the brothers Gibb continue to sing that catchy melody: “Dee dee da dee dee dee . . .” The final shot in the scene is an extreme close-up of the mark’s hand dripping blood onto the rain-spattered steps. In what may be an homage to Sam Fuller’s The Big Red One, the camera pans across the character’s lifeless hand and ends on his wristwatch where the second hand is still ticking mechanically on.

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This entire murder scene is less than four minutes long and yet I would argue it is more impressive as an “action set piece” than anything to have come out of Hollywood in the past quarter century. Other than describing it in detail, I am also at somewhat of a loss to explain exactly why the scene is so powerful. All I know is that, like many comparable scenes from great S. Korean movies, it is an example of pure cinema — where color, form, movement (by both the characters within the frame as well as from the camera itself), optical effects, editing and music (the minor-key song contributes to the haunting quality of the overall tone) all combine to create an experience as unforgettable as it is ineffable. Even more impressive is how Lee’s film contains several other set pieces that are almost equally effective, including a suspenseful chase through several cars on a moving passenger train and a climactic fight scene, also shot in the rain, scored to an instrumental version of “Holiday” (a scene that, incidentally, was totally ripped off by the Wachowski siblings for their third Matrix movie). If, as I speculated months ago, the golden age of South Korean cinema truly has come to an end, cinema lovers will still always have this period to look back on; much as Rick Blaine will always have Paris, so too will we always have the great Korean films of the late 1990s and early 2000s, prominently including Nowhere to Hide, the cinematic equivalent of a masterful Impressionist painting.

The full sequence described above can be seen in the YouTube clip below. But you should see the whole movie:

About michaelgloversmith

Filmmaker, author and Film Studies instructor. View all posts by michaelgloversmith

98 responses to “Spotlight on South Korean Cinema: Nowhere to Hide

  • zhuyu187

    Throughout the whole movie, the last scene was the most impressive. Differing to Hollywood movie, Asian directors are more focused on details. Through actors’ expression and action, I am able to know characters’ inside world. As a movie from 1999, the picture is very good, especially at the beginning of the rain, describing killing, the picture is very beautiful, and the appropriate soundtrack is very pleasant. But the story is attractive enough for me. Honestly, the part which interested most was when the background music. It played an important part on developing the plot as well. What I understand is that, actually the movie No Where To Hide is not only on behalf of the Ahn sung Ki’s role, the role of Choi Ji woo and most important two other characters’ police role, faced with criminals and crime, is it possible for them to hide when comes to problems? Can they escape from those things only because crimes might kill them? In the film, the police are the worst job. Yes, you can do what you what such as drinking coffee and reading newspaper during work; at the same time working hard, but why most police choose the second one? That’s what common people cannot understand.
    As far as I concerned, this movie is a really love-it-or-hate-it one. I searched the rate online both on Asian and American website. Obviously, Americans are more refer to this style of movie. On the other side, most Asians thought it was boring and pointless. However, I watched it twice in two nights without the benefit of English subtitles, instead, only Korean did help me to understand the meaning of movie better by listening to characters’ tone. Even without understandable dialogue, it’s funny, exciting, and even a bit challenging. It’s nice to see a film with artistic merit that isn’t afraid to be entertaining. The film’s unusual fight scenes are really worth seeing; at times it appears that the director just let the actors fight while the camera ran, sometimes for up to a minute at a time without any cuts. I can’t recommend it enough. I imagine being able to understand it could only be an improvement.
    At the end, I want to quote one sentence from the movie, “You don’t think this is your normal cops & robber film do you?”.

  • shao jun huang

    This film to me was dependence, or let me said it did not explain enough to the audiences. The beginning of the film was unforgettable, and it the first shot of the male protagonist Detective Woo’s personality that reflected the way he found out his target. It made the audience fall in the thought that Detective Woo was a rascal, but he was a little better one. Detective Kim looked like a justicial guy compared to Detective Woo. He complained a lot to stand by to long for waiting their target, but he was enjoy working with Detective Woo. In the entire film, Detective Woo was doing two things, chase and fight. Detective Woo started the chase with the bad guy he knew. He caught the bad guy then beat him. Got the clues, and moved to the other bad guy. Repeated the steps and finally, he found out then center, Sungmin. By looking back how Detective Woo got the clues, beside his identity, he’s a rascal. Is the film trying to say people can competitive success by means? Or the film trying to say people should work step by step to reach the goal? However, Detective Woo wasn’t bad at all, he just a hard worker.

  • Cristina Rosas

    I agree with your post how the film should have appealed to the artistic crowd since it is a very creative film in the way the director makes his shots. Each scene is different. His mission is obvious. He wanted movement to be his focus and he did an excellent job also. The audience can really get lost in the scenes in part because the are very entertaining and are very unique. If I could pick my most favorite scene in the whole film I would pick the scene where Sung-min joins his wife in the bar\restaurant and the smoke appears. This was to me an introduction to the the kind of film technique going to be used in the film. I’ve never seen anything like it. It really emphasized the characters and their roles. It brought a villainess aura and to me solidified the mind of role Sung-ri would play throughout the flm. As to the suitcase I didn’t even remember about it until you mentioned it. Now I see how it symbolizes the directors ambition to direct under the bold use of dominantly movement. He succeeded in drawing attention off the characters and more towards the appreciation of the film in its totality with its artistic beauty .

  • Mandukhai Damdinjav

    I agree and disagree that this film Nowhere to hide should appealed only to the artistic crowed. This movie should be let seen to the normal cinema viewers, and the artistic cinema viewers. Even if the tomato rating was negative, we shouldn’t just trust any ratings this simply. We shouldn’t rate, or judge movie that someone has made. Every person is different to their taste, but largely now days people check ratings, and then they watch a movie, which is big mistake. A lot people will miss a great movie like Nowhere to hide. The music, the character’s voices, and slow motion like, or comic like freezes show the hidden elements in this move, which we dont often see now days in cinemas. When it comes to police work it is very messy, and a though job. This movie also showed the work of the hidden forces behind the regular police officers we see every day. My most favorite part was the end scene as well because it shows a hint of realism in this movie. Detective Woo, who fought despite being beaten over and over again, he kept going until the police force came by. Yet another scene stroked me more than this scene was when Detective Woo visits his partner in hospital, and talks to him. Saying that they didnt even mention them, but still they caught he bad guy. It is a great movie worth watching, and I learned that many filming technic has a big influence, how it shows the theme, character, and emotions of a film.

  • aspic/maiap

    I have been wondering why Lee Myung-se decided to use the Bee Gees’ “Holiday”. I am not entirely sure but I think the song is about uncertainty in life’s direction and our perception of things. The cheery tempo with morbid lyrics seems like it coincides with the general outlook of a humorous and violent film. Although the meaning could be inconsequential. I thought it was a funny choice. I could be reading into it too much or incorrectly.
    Anyway, the scene you describe above is wonderful in its composition, movement and color. The movie had so many visually stunning sequences. I absolutely recognize the directors influence from impressionist painters. I think most good art, whether a painting or a film, should have that foundation of aesthetic power without the need for narrative. Although I believe the story is vague it is enriched with its own playful worth.There is visual humor as well as ridiculous and manipulative dialogue. All the lies and sendoffs the characters tell each other is a good tool to mimic the repetitive nature of a hunt or chase. I thought that was fascinating that Lee Myung-se watched nature documentaries and soccer matches to imitate feral and aggressive movement. Even if we have developed cities and building and police forces we all came from this place of basic survival. It still runs our lives but the motives look different in some ways.

  • Julie Vera

    I am really surprised that Rotten Tomatoes rated the movie Nowhere to Hide with such a low rating. Do they even decide to find out what was the director’s intention throughout the whole movie? I feel like the only way they would rate Nowhere to Hide with such low rating if they do not do it’s research, or evaluate. I find Lee’s way of directing the movie was incredible. Every scene of the film stands out! For example, each fighting scene was different, each character stands out, and the music was awesome. My favorite fighting scene was when detective Woo was chasing the second suspect, and it seemed like a video game. You have both of the characters reflection showing the fight, and it’s not showing them physically fighting throughout their scene. Obviously Detective Woo stands out with his weird face expressions, and his determination. Detective Woo might have lost his last fight, but he still kept trying. Lastly, you can’t go wrong with the Bee-Gees, and I don’t agree that “Holiday” is their greatest song EVER!

    One last thing is that I am never going to trust anyone’s rating. My dad was right the whole time, and I can’t judge a movie based on someone’s rating or opinion. I have to see the movie, before I start giving negative opinions about the movie.

  • Tiffany

    When I first seen Nowhere to hide I thought that it was going to be a gangster film but it actually turned out to be action kind of comedy. You have this cops chasing this guy Sung-kee who always changing the way he looks, he was like a master of disguise. Detective Kim and the rest of the police force have no consideration for anyone that’s around. They have no sense of regard for the people they are around. What was really funny to me was when they started to beat the people in interrogation they pulled out poles and all types of things. And the detective woo just never gives up. It’s like the he lives for the challenges as a cop. He has no family except the police force and doesn’t care that his partner hasn’t been home in three days. Although there was a lot of funny sense in this film you can tell that the director had a lot of fun making this film. Although it was not what I expected I really did enjoy the film.

  • Mercedes Abreu

    I wouldn’t have really noticed the artistic view of the movie until it was mentioned before the screening. I then can appreciate the impressionist view of some scenes. The little girl on the 40 steps is puzzling as she poofs out of thin air, who is she and how is she relevant? The music score is tantalizing from the opening scene – Detective Woo is somewhat hunched over, wearing suspender jeans with this goofy bad boy attitude, he like many thriller genres he fits the bill as dedicated cop chasing bad guy, but has a playful almost ignorant side to him, which keeps you liking his character all the way to the end. I have not watched any South Korean films before and this artistic side of filming is something I wouldn’t expect from a gangster comedy genre.
    The murder scene I agree is powerful. I can agree how it may be hard to describe- From the Bee Gees playing in the background to the golden yellow fall leaves on the street on this rainy day is impressive.
    I was also impressed with the way Lee filmed his closing shots to a scene, they were unexpected. In Lee’s filming his use of the wipe out and changing one scene to a crayon effect was creative and unexpected. I also enjoyed the scene where Detective Woo is fighting murder accomplice Meathead on the rooftop. It was almost cartoon like, or something from an original Batman and Robin television show. His fighting scenes reminded me of Westside Story’s choreography. The using of their shadows to film a fight scene was also epic. Since I haven’t seen many South Korean films, the ones I’ve watched were really good. It’s sad to hear that in opinion; the good years of producing great films for South Korea are over.

  • Edmund Eng

    The first thing that I want to talk about is the unique character of Detective Woo. Detective Woo is always somewhat slouched when he’s walking or running almost like a gorilla and is one of those typical cops that chase criminals for a living. Every once in awhile, Detective Woo is serious, but in a way, he’s very funny. With his reckless and carefree attitude, he shows his unique attributes as a main character and lee[s the audience interested. For me, Detective Woo was hilarious. I would normally expect cops to be all “follow the procedures,” and do things in an orderly fashion, but Detective Woo and his crew did whatever it takes to find the criminal. They didn’t care about anything except finding the criminal. I thought that this was what made “Nowhere to Hide,” a eye-catching and unique movie.
    The director, Lee Myung-se, didn’t do a very good job with the fight scenes in my opinion, but considering the year that this movie was released, I don’t mind much. I felt that the fight scenes were very choppy and had a lot of room for improvement. When I think of an action movie, the fight scenes are the key to the movie. The fight scenes in “Nowhere to Hide,” were sometimes slow and unrealistic. To me, the more realistic the fighting is, the more interesting the movie is, but that’s just my opinion. Great film overall, but just a little improvement can make a huge difference.

  • Lakita Flowers

    I agree the movie may have been better if it was more towards an artistic crowd. The visuals in the movie are very original from what I’ve seen. The fighting scenes are very different, instead of just a wide shot of both characters fighting there was a scene when all you saw was the shadows on what looks like a boat fighting. I’ve yet to see that in a movie myself. Also the scene where the detective was fighting the criminals was different. When the criminal hits the detective the detective puts his gun away and balls up his fist to show how personal the fight has become. That is also shown at the end when the detective is fighting the killer. You can see the anger on their faces and the long stares to show how upset they both are. The use of color at the beginning of the film is also very different to see in a film. Usually you see the black and white background with a pop of color to focus on that object in photography. This is another reason why I agree that this movie may have done better if it was seen by others with a more artistic mind.

  • Christopher Sanchez

    I agree that the movie should of probably been shown to the art film crowd but at the same time this also feels like a movie that gets a cult flowing. The movie is a simple chase but it has some memorable action very similar to John Woo. With very memorable scenes perfectly cut to different songs like the beginning with the opening credits, or the murder, or the final fight in the rain they all work and are very memorable. It also helps when you have an interesting main character like Detective Woo who really only has one purpose and that’s to get the job done. You get to see how the detective works and how he will stop at nothing to catch the killer. We also learn a bit about this characters life when he visits his family. It may be a short seen but it is a really good one as we see he rarely visits them but we can see he wants to see more of them. We also see his loyalty as he spends a lot with his other detectives and makes sure they are well. This is a movie with a relatively simple plot but is still able to convey more thanks to its stylized action and interesting lead. This is also a movie that knows it is a chase movie and doesn’t try to force something more complicated down your throat but it still has something in the background for people to pick up on it they wish.

  • Rocio Gonzalez

    This action movie shows people the typical chase between caps and murderers. Sungmin, the antagonist, is running away from detective Woo and his friend detective Kim who are the protagonists on this story.
    The plot shows several visuals that are fun to watch but also a little distracting for me, fall colors, slow motion movements; combined with other scenes that ended in colorful painting like pictures. Even though this movie is most of it colors, it has some scenes that are black and white, and also cartoon like.
    I agree with the director, if he was trying to show movement, he was right on track showing the fast movements of the train and combining them with the slow movements of the people’s bodies in the fighting scenes.
    We know that the story takes place in a city where Fall has taken place, we see very strong yellows, oranges, green and red leaves during the scenes. The music emphasizes what is happening on the scenes while the characters are in pursue of the murderer. The fight scenes reminded me of the matrix movie where shows the slow motion movements of the ones involved in it.
    I found difficult to follow the plot, but maybe it was because I was blown away with the different visuals. I’m still wondering what happened to the little girl that disappeared from the steps where the murder took place.

  • amni5

    I’ve gotta say, Nowhere to Hide is probably one of the most memorable action films I’ve seen, and a lot of it is due to what you describe. First, the constant motion on screen is just fun to see, it’s like there’s always something happening on screen, and it’s not just happening, but moving. Whether it’s a character running across the screen, or the camera gliding and capturing a scene, there’s always something going on.
    And I believe that Lee comparing himself to Monet is quite interesting, and something that wouldn’t have even crossed my mind if you hadn’t read the quote to us first, and I believe that hearing that quote allowed me to see the film through a different lens as we watched it. At its core, Nowhere to Hide is a film about motion and film making, and despite watching the opening scene over 6 times in class, I think that’s a great example of the film focusing on motion. Not just the way the character moves with his shoulders heavily hunched, but the way the music complements that scene so well to give it an extra bounce, and then the chair just flying from the window so that the character doesn’t have to pause, do well to show the viewer constant motion in some way or another. For me, action films end up being really immemorable because they end up being more or less the same when boiled down to their core concept; something like Nowhere to Hide, however, with its barebones plot and characters feels really novel and fresh, even if its over 15 years old now, manages to have a lot more heart than a lot of actual action films that are being produced now.

  • Doug Jones

    With this film, I felt that there were both forgettable and unforgettable moments. The things that stood out the most are probably the huge and on going fight scenes that really make them realistic and almost if they almost happened. That’s the biggest thing that comes out of this film. The realistic (realism) of this action film stands out from other action films that just focus on over the top explosions and action sequences that don’t really add anything to the film other than just the “wow” factor. With this film it seems like there was more thought and mind added to it.

    What I thought was interesting and well used was the concept of how the cops are almost or just as bad as the crook (criminals). This adds to the realistic point of view also conveying to society of how there are instances of corrupt cops and cops who step out of line and take measures to the extreme which results in controversy (police brutality). The director, Mr. Lee opens up and puts out the very numerous range of certain cop emotions throughout the film. Whether it was all the adrenaline rushes or the less intense stakeouts, and to the attention grabbing similar to anime-like fights, and all adding to cops and criminals eating ramen noodles together.

    Overall, Nowhere to Hide does provide the sense of realistic action that not other action films similar to this have gone before and it results in something interesting and attracts the audience.

  • Shield K.

    One of my favorite scene from this movie was the scene when the detectives first meet Sung-min and a chase pursues. I like how comical and entertaining it ended up being with two people (Detective Woo and Sung-min) running up and down the narrow alley during the night. You were always guessing to see if one or the other would run to each other or if Sung-min would be able to get away, which he eventually did. This scene reminded me of the cartoons from the older days where you would see a set of characters chasing each other through various doors (in a hallway) never quite catching up to the other person.

    On a more serious note, I did enjoy this film for its artistic value. It was a beautifully filmed movie. And I do agree that if it was marketed towards a more artistic audience, this movie would have done better in the US. To be marketed as an “action” movie downplayed what this movie was really about which was watching the beauty of movement and appreciating the art in it.

  • Jessica Diaz

    The film of “Nowhere to Hide” was really entertaining. The chasing between the cops and criminal was unstoppable until it got to the ending. It had a lot of chasing one another and fighting when they got to the criminal. Detective Woo and Detective Kim were funny throughtout the film. For example when they would imagine their food above their head as they were describing it. Detective Woo was a character I enjoyed because of his personality and the way he played his role. Throughout the film their were parts where they were slower paced at times and would pause at times which gave more importance to it and made it seem more dramatic. I think it was pretty cool how at times in the film certain scenes seemed like a video game or anime. The fighting scene at the end was incredible, my favorite scene in the whole film. I thought Detective Woo’s character was really brave because he was not afraid of anything, he likes taking risks and thought it was really brave of him to try and fight Sungmin, the killer, until the cops got their. The rain in the film at the end I thought made the fight scene more powerful. It was different from other films because usually in action films today the good guy wins staying standing at the end but in this film the bad guy was the one that stayed standing. Then when the cops arrived and having showed Detective Woos’s fist up in the air even though he was in the ground shows victory because he kept fighting the criminal long enough so the cops would arrest him. I thought Lee Myung captured the movement soo well since it was the main focus of the film.

  • Alex

    Whoa forget what i said in the last response and move it to this one because this is the film i was talking about, this film has been one of my favorites along with some others we have seen. Although I arrived late I was watching the film through the window in the door and even then this film captured my attention with no sound I just watched and read the characters lines on the subtitles, I added my own voices so it was entertaining. Once i got in the class the film was even better than i expected! Drama, Mystery, Chases, Humor and Justice! what more could you ask for to keep you at your seat. Once again I have to mention the repetition of the rock song, yes it fit and it was good but it was overused and kind of change what i thought about the director once i noticed how many times he used it, and to end with the song? i found it annoying but i understand that it worked for the film and why it was chosen just saying in parts where the song was repeated it could have been substituted.

  • Suanne Rayner

    Nowhere to Hide by Lee Myung-se 1999
    This film is rich in textures, first with the use of color. The beginning scene starts with the Detective Woo looking for trouble with the bad guys. Along with stop action and what looks like story boards to hold that thought, then we go to the next scene. The movie is in constant movement, with never a dull moment. He and his crew apparently had some training in Chicago, the way they use their hands and bats, to exact justice from the perpetrators. Although Woo’s partner Detective Kim is the good cop not having the stomach for the beat down.
    We then see the beginning of primary colors, yellow from the falling leaves as the bad guys stake out someone waiting for the right moment to strike. As soon as the leading bad guy, Chang Sang-min pulls out his weapon of choice a long knife, we see red, flowing through the street, after he slices his victim and steals a small case, the scene fades to red. Through the movie the good guy Det. Woo is chasing the criminal killer, always to be a few steps behind and never quite strong enough to catch the slippery mastermind. This villain is so slick, he appears to be a chameleon, blending in to his surroundings, and slithering right by Det.Woo. So we go from day to day seeing the different chances to catch the bad guy as he slips through Woo’s hands. We see that Woo thinks he is a chef, a ladies man, doesn’t visit his family around the holidays, and he likes to fight trying to make the Head brothers confess. He has to run a country mile and take a real beating/tango in order to get to the real villain.
    Finally, they are on the path to catch Chang while staking out the girlfriends apartment the rest of the crew do a slow motion detective dance. In the review, we find the director watched many films to see how movement applied to people and animals, in which our star Detective Woo walks very much like a primate, or again he could be borrowing the Chicago Thug walk.
    The film then keeps referencing the train, another thing in motion and a transition. Then we board the train to catch a killer, who again is hiding in plain sight. The crew is dressed like waitstaff on a train when finally the only cop with a conscience recognizes him and gets shanked, making Woo come after Chang with a vengeance. The last scene Woo is like a timex watch, he takes a licking and keeps on ticking, until finally they get their man. This movie is what you call Wabi Sabi perfectly imperfect. Its craftsmanship seems to be experimental while in constant motion like an action film. There are homages to the recent events of Korea, as well as the New Wave filmmakers, and Hitchcock.

  • Ryan Stillmaker

    Nowhere to Hide, first and foremost what a great scene to begin with. I was a little worried at first because I was really thinking this was going to be a black and white film. Then it shifts into color into the most important scene of the guy getting killed. and Chang Sung-min scoping out when it is time for the kill. From then on the chase is on and Detective Woo and Kim must find the killer. Detective Kim seems he really likes to start trouble with people. When he gets his first lead, he ends up at a club with a guy he knows. Detective Kim goes in the club but not Woo because a lot people know him. When the guy leaves he and Woo go on a long chase. Once Woo catches up to him he starts beating him up. Detective Woo is a guy that enjoys the thrill of being a detective and doesn’t care what happens to him. In the movie you see lots of small parts of humor in it from all the detectives beating the crap out of meathead and when he gets up you see prints on his face from getting “stepped on” to when Detective Woo and meathead are fighting at shows the shadows of them. It has that cartoonish feel but at the same time it’s an action movie trying to find Chang Sung-min. Then at the end of the movie Detective Woo and Chang Sung-min finally get their fight. Detective Woo gets beat up from Chang Sung-min but he never gives up and keeps fighting. He holds him off enough for the police to arrive and have Chang Sung-min arrested.

  • Sean McLennan

    Another well written analysis that brought up some excellent highlights from the film. I definitely agree that the focus should remain on the “pure cinema” aspect as opposed to the plot of the film, or lack thereof. This is a film that relies on character movements, music, colors, editing, etc…to sustain it’s story, rather than focusing on character emotion. This film was bizarre, oddly compelling, and humorous. It was bizarre in the sense that I had never seen so many things going on at once in a given movie scene. Lee united freeze frames with beautifully colored scenes and tacky transition tools with dramatic movements/action scenes. I use the phrase “oddly compelling” due to the unconventional nature surrounding the technical aspects of this film and how they work in a way that created a fascinating kinetic energy. This film does not adhere to many rules of “traditional” cinema and challenges you to find appreciation in perhaps uncomfortable territory (and there is definitely plenty to appreciate). The radical music was used as a tremendous tool to trigger emotion, even more so than the actual acting. There was dance music, heavy rock music, piano, percussive techno/guitar riffs, and of course, The Bee Gees. Each of these genres set the scene and made you feel a certain way throughout the entire scene. The film had an overall “live cartoon” feel to it, which had elements I found not only intriguing, but astonishing as well. Elements such as the use of C.G.I (moon moving behind building, sweat drop on to shoe, ramen soup bowl thought) and the way certain punches/kicks were built up and thrown (reminiscent of Dragon Ball-Z). I think my favorite scene was the very beginning (in black and white) where you are immediately introduced to Detective Woo. He is walking and you see an aggressive close-up of him putting his shoe up on a car to tie it, then of his face. As he is walking, a random chair flies out of a window and he picks it up (later to use to sit down in front of the goons harassing the man). The scene erupts into a full on brawl and starts to cut to new scenes using odd transitions. It was shot so crisp and introduces the viewer to just how insane Woo is. Two honorable mentions would have to be the scene in the apartment when the buzzer goes off (detectives scrambling around in slow motion) and the final stand off between Woo and Sung-Min. Detective Woo’s character was wacky, hilarious, and off the wall at times. His smile was contagious and you could never tell what was going on behind his smiling facial expression. An all around star of the film. Nowhere To Hide was a pleasure to watch and perhaps my favorite of the class thus far.

  • Nadia

    I was entertained by the comedic lines and comedic elements in the movie. It was not my favorite film to have watched but I can appreciate its beauty in the way that this movie was very thoughtful in the way it uses it’s color, movement, sounds, and after effects used by the director to show its “filmic” properties as he stated. First i wanna start off by the comedic scenes and most memorable scenes to me in this “action” film.The scene when all the detectives are at Juyons apartment and the door bell rings. All the detectives jump and scramble into the bathroom to hide. Everything about this scene is amazing. The camera goes into slow motion and all the characters have big and exaggerated movements, which would lead to to believe there would be so much noise and ruckus, yet when it cuts to Chang Sung-min opening the door, you are lead to believe it was dead silent and he didn’t know the detectives where there at all. The camera slow motion was the only thing convincing me that there was no noise in that scene. Another comedic scene that shows off the the “filmic” in this scene is the fight scene between Detective Woo and the possible suspect on the rooftop. I love the uses of the camera focus on the their foot work as they moved through the hung linen sheets as well as the use of the overhead shot because it allows you to see the view point of being in the fight as well as just a casual observed from a bird eye view. I do love the fight into dancing part one the fight sequence that then leads into the camera shot of the shadows fighting. This all gives the fight scene a very anime soft of feeling, very unrealistic but very entertaining fight sequence.I feel like the beginning of the murder that happens in the rain and the ending, where Chang Sung-min and Detective Woo are fighting in the rain is very fitting, it brings it full circle. It could be just a coincidence but its only fitting the the beginning of this chase begins in the pouring rain and that the end of the chase ends in the pouring rain.Lee’s use of the music allows for us to truly feel the greatness of the scenes. For example almost every time there was a fight scene the music would be hard, metal, anxiety inducing music to get you pumped up for the fights, which had very anime quality with the punches and freeze frames or slow motion action while jumping and catching onto the perps. I appreciated the movement that incorporated into this film and I can clearly see how this is an experimental kind of movie. The action films now could take a not of two on just how great the camera is utilized to show motion.

  • Fiona Prieto

    Nowhere to Hide – Response

    Upon watching this movie for the first time, I was surprised. Even though Mr. Smith explained in class what we were about to watch, I had never seen a movie like this before. The style the director Lee Myung-se was completely new to me. The fact that the focus of movies can be more than the characters’ lives is astounding, truly. It makes me think about something that was said in our class, about how over the many thousands of years humans have been doing art, it has changed so drastically and no one creation is “not correct” if you will and the same goes with poetry. We have come to write it in many ways, and it doesn’t even have to rhyme anymore. This movie focused on movement as a key aspect. The director studied different ways people move, but also ways that animals move, which we can see in the fight scene between Meathead and the main detective, Det. Woo, where they kind of dance around each other avoiding each other’s moves. As we discussed in class, the idea for the director was to show all movements, so not only the graceful ones, but also the awkward ones. For example, when Det. Woo visits his sister for Christmas, and he walks down the alley with her after the dinner, he doesn’t really know what to say, and that is his personality. But he also jokes around a lot and he does with his sister. The director shows the family dynamic, but he does it in a way that doesn’t take away from the subject of the film. He incorporates it.
    Mr. Smith focuses on one scene in particular, from the opening where we learn what the crime is and why the detectives are chasing this man, Sung-min. He talks about the song that is played in the background, “Holiday” by the Bee Gees, and how it creates a “haunting quality of the overall tone”. One aspect of pure cinema he lists is music and how well it fits into the scene, and hearing the song again, I realize how it is so uncharacteristic of what we think of when we think “Bee Gees music”. That in and of itself just makes the viewer realize how much thought was put into a film like this.

  • Oyundari Battulga

    Lee Myung-se through his film “Nowhere to hide” has completely shattered my narrow individualistic notion of film to be no more than for entertainment, and made me see the “filmic” of cinema. I personally do not know much about the art of painting, however, I was intrigued to read from your post, Lee’s quote on Nowhere to hide, where lee explains how he means to capture “kinetic energy” through this film to show the “filmic”, like how Monet captures light through his paintings to show the “painterly”. Through his experimental film Nowhere to hide, Lee was challenged to capture “the aesthetic properties of action as movement” as you’ve put it, and to do that, I was surprised to find that Lee pored over the study of movements ranging from “animals to soccer players”. My favorite scene from the film, was where Detective Woo is fighting with Meathead and as the two fight, the fight turns into a dance— in my opinion this scene as humorous as it is, it also perfectly depicted the “aesthetic properties of action as movement.” As you have pointed out, I did take notice of the gorilla like movement in the character of detective Woo. I found it interesting how a man could move like a gorilla and it would seem so natural.
    Lee emphasizes on the beauty and art of kinetic energy through the use of physical movements, and through the movement of a train, the fall of rain/snow, the rise of steams, the movement of a clock hand, the list goes on. I loved how he used slow motion to capture the power and force movements carry out. Especially the last fight scene in the rain between detective Woo and Sung-min, Lee purposely filmed this scene in the rain, in water and mud just to emphasize the force, power and energy brought out from movements. Lee definitely opened the viewers eyes to see what “millions of eyes can see” (movements all around) but have been “so blind” to take notice of the art and beauty. I definitely watched Nowhere to hide through an artistic lens and am glad to have witnessed “pure cinema”, a cinema in your words, “equivalent of a masterful impressionist painting”.

  • Kai Jantsankhorol

    Nowhere to Hide (1999)
    Lee Myung-se

    To me, watching a movie is like new experience. Every movies that I have seen in my life makes me feel some type of different way. Some make me feel excited, scared, and feel sad depending on the focus of the movie that the director is trying to make you feel. “Nowhere to Hide” was a very different action movie compared to other action movies I have seen. Honestly I thought this movie was going to be kind of bad at first after seeing the rating of Rotten Tomatoes but I guess I was wrong to judge the movie by other movie critics because I loved the movie so much, I thought it was a masterpiece. Just like you mentioned it, this film is an example of what pure cinema is, combining great use of color combinations, camera movements, fight scenes, freeze frames, special effects, unique transitions, location, and music to create one hell of a great experience for the audiences. For me what makes a great movie is when the director shows the down part of life. One of my favorite scene in the movie has to be the murder scene at the barbershop. The scene was very powerful to me because it shows that we humans do the wrong thing while trying to the right thing. As when detective Kim enters the barbershop, there was Hyunsu, barber grandpa, and little boy who was getting a haircut, then Kim threatens Hyunsu with his gun to capture him but Hyunsu grabs the little kid to protect himself. Suddenly the barber tries to take away the knife Hyunsu was holding and this is when detective Kim opens a fire to save everyone at the barbershop. Kim really didn’t want to shoot anybody but he had to do the wrong thing for the good and in life we sometimes experience this. In the following scene, detective Woo visits his sister and this scene was captured beautifully. It was snowing at night when Woo gets out of his sister’s house to continue do his job, and he comes to Kim to make him feel better. I loved this scene so much because it was like calm after the storm. “Nowhere to Hide” kept me excited for the most part, and overall one of very memorable and great example of pure cinema.

  • Romeo Suarez

    This film was absolutely amazing, mainly through its expression of pure cinema and the focus on movement. Even the opening scene has many elements that show how color and sound can be just as, or even more important than story. We get the black and white beginning, with detective Woo applying what he learned about movement in animals (his gorilla like qualities of being intimidating and having a strong, already beat-up appearance with his eyebrow bandage and cold stares). He is unfazed by the chair breaking the window and ties his shoe on a fancy car, constantly looking around for someone or something. The music has a constant beat with claps flowing alongside detective Woo’s movements, similar to the opening for “Cleo from 5 to 7”, and becomes silent as he slams the chair down, confronting the gangsters. Eventually, this all leads into the blast of blood pumping music as detective Woo begins to fight a group of men, again showing he is unafraid and willing to take an unfair fight, with a slow motion shot of his back-up walking towards the viewer. We get that wonderful pan from right to left as we freeze frame on each individual character as they deliver a blow to whoever their fighting, and while frozen, the visuals become almost comic book like with a flood of blue and purple, with a gritty texture. There is no explanation, little dialogue other than Woo provoking the gangsters in small talk, just loud, fast paced music, sudden changes in color and texture, and lots of movement from the fight. With the panning of the camera we see everything and how close they are to each other, not just alternating quick one on one battles with close-ups of the characters in different areas. It all takes place inside, in view of everyone. This scene hypes up the viewer, having them watch a true physical battle out of context, and then leads them into the gentle, poetic murder scene explained in the review. This constantly happens throughout the film, without the use of excessive dialogue or story explanation. The viewer continues to be entertained, because the focus on pure cinema is stimulating and unpredictable.

  • Anais Deac

    The film Nowhere to Hide, “can technically be described as an ‘action movie.’” However, by the way that this film was “stylized” and using the “experimental approach,” it easy to say that this film is very unique. Mr. Lee used freeze frames, colors, and images, almost like a cartoon or comic book. Like at the very beginning of the film, we see Detective Woo and Kim fighting some yakuza in a somewhat slow motion. Mr. Lee used freeze frame while adding a blue, purple, and red colors to each shot that he wanted to freeze. He does something similar when the detectives are on the lookout for Fishhead. Detective Kim only walks up to the building and the next thing you see are pictures slides of Fishhead having a good time in with some girls. You don’t even see what’s happened, but you can guess. One picture says one thousand words. Mr. Lee also had music that went well with scenes that had action or during serious moments of the film. As I watched Nowhere To Hide, it made me think of the three stooges. A specific scene that made me think this way was when Detective Woo came up to Fishhead and then he started to run away. Detective Woo chased Fishhead and when Detective Woo catches him, he beats him up. I do agree that this film was a “pure cinema — where color, form, movement (by both the characters within the frame as well as from the camera itself), optical effects, editing and music (the minor-key song contributes to the haunting quality of the overall tone) all combine to create an experience as unforgettable as it is ineffable.” Watching Nowhere To Hide has given me something new to think about while watching South Korean films now.

  • Tomasz Bereszynski

    The movie “Nowhere to Hide” was a movie like I never seen before. This movie should have its own genre. The movie had a lot of action but it also had mystery. Throughout the movie, cops were chasing criminals in order to solve a murder. Every person they came into contact with were suspects but they were unable to prove guilt or responsibility for the murder. This film reminded me of an anime movie because Lee Myung-se used a lot of slow motion in the film. When a person was struck, Lee-Myung-se used slow motion to emphasize the action. There was also a part in the film where Lee-Myung-se used shadows that reminded me of anime film.
    The article talked about a painting of a lily and how it is blurry. The painting reflects the movie by Lee Myung-se. Lee Myung-se focused his attention on the movements of the characters rather than focusing on the plot. The plot is like the blurriness of the painting. The viewer realizes it’s about a murder but that’s about it. This is exactly what Lee Myung wanted viewers to see.
    The film “Nowhere to Hide” was an entertaining movie but I did not really like it. I understand that Lee Myung-se attention was on the movement of the characters and he nailed it. I would have enjoyed the movie if the film had a more structured plot. The movie seemed to be on replay. The cops would catch a suspect then let him go and so on. I did enjoy all the action in the movie and how Lee Myung-se’s movie reminded me of an anime.

  • Ayush Syal

    “Nowhere to Hide” by Lee Myung-Se was a pure cinema. I was entertained throughout the whole movie; the characters in the movie were fantastic. This movie was not much focused in plot but was visually unique by using the unusual angles; the only plot was the hunt for the killer. Det. Woo and Kim were the two main characters who were on the chase to find the killer. Det. Woo is not too smart, he uses physicality throughout all the chase; he doesn’t use psychological thoughts in chases. The director uses genre as a framework in order to use form in an expressive way; he was interested in movements, the awkwardness, and clumsiness. Like when Woo and Meathead were fighting and strangling each others hands with the music playing made it seem so different from fighting because of the music usage. Kim is usually the calm one who uses psychological thoughts more than physicality but when they were in the barber shop as Woo tries to calm Kim down showed the exchanged characteristic of Woo with Kim. I noticed that this movie had some scenes kind of similar to JSI, like when Woo throws snowballs at Kim and wouldn’t stop which shows us grown men acting like kids. There is so much action in the movie that I feel like anything could happen anytime just like in the French New Wave. The painting reflects the movie by Lee Myung-Se, focusing on movement of the characters action rather than the plot. The movie started off with fall season, then Christmas(snowball fights), and then ends with spring season; it shows the changing of the season throughout the movie. This movie reminded me of an anime movie with the use of slow-mo scenes. I enjoyed the movie and this movie really made me want to check out some other South Korean movies.

  • Joseph Lee

    This article is impressive to me. I will not know Sung-min brandished the knife twice if I did not read this. Also, it was a very interesting song as in this article, which is “which, in case you didn’t know, is their greatest song ever.” Every time I listen the song “Holiday,” I remember the scene when ginkgo leaves were scattered in front of many stairs. The scene of the appearance of the characters and the police coming into the house of Kim Ju-Yeon was very impressive. Jang Sung-min’s acting villain role was great, Jung-hoon’s police role, and detective Kim, who showed real acting, was also good. The most memorable line from the movie was when the leader of the detective was saying to Meathead that “You guys know how to hurt people. But not the other way around. You have to get hurt to know what it feels like.” In addition, I think the reason why “Nowhere to Hide” is interesting because the movie is like a cartoon. I think scenes that were seen in comic books and animations are reproduced in due diligence, but I think that it gave me more time to look at the movie more intimately than to feel that it is strange or uncomfortable. When the waltz music flowed out from the rooftop duel scene of detective-Wu and Meathead, and the shadow action scene immediately followed, I was able to escape from stereotypes of the action movie I had seen so far. The film shows how hard the police work in Korea, and it is a movie that I enjoyed watching the contents.

  • Meagan McCarthy

    To say the least, I was confused the ENTIRE movie. That is when I started to pick up that Lee Myung-se was not trying to get plot across his audience, but he was aiming for color, form, and movement. It is seen that Lee is focused on the details. I also want to address that beauty of the film – it is a kind of film that looks almost like a cartoon, possibly like it is anime. However, it is not cartoon characters, but real actors in the flesh performing anime-like moves. Moreover, in the film to be a policemen was the worst job, and this is easily seen in Nowhere to Hide because the cops come off as if they are villains or evil.

    After reading several reviews about what I had just seen in this movie, I have developed a higher respect after convincing myself to stop looking for a plot and to simply just look at the colors, film shots, and music that contribute to the movie. I realized you do not even need to know what the characters are saying to understand that this film is funny and exciting, hence the scene where the Bee-Gee’s are playing.

    Lastly, I feel for these actors because they probably had to re-do many scenes and it was, most likely, time consuming and had to be practiced. The way the moves are in the movie, they needed to be practiced because they were timed so perfectly, which is part of the art of the movie. The background music, the use of color (such as the scene where it opens to a black and white sequence and stops at every hit), and the movements the actors create is different, but in a good way.

  • Joseph Vettom

    Nowhere to Hide, directed by Lee Myung, as stated in the article is an example of “pure cinema.” The movie specifically and artistically focused on the visual element of cinema to a degree that I had never seen before. The movie in its entirety was great, but the visuals was where Lee Myung demonstrated his talent and passion. Every frame and transition are interesting and creative. The filming techniques he used made the story an afterthought because of how interesting the images on the screen were presented. The story itself is simple but was deepened by what Lee Myung put on the screen; he deepened the understanding of the characters and the setting without dialogue, but rather specific shots that make the audience infer who, where, and what the movie is about. The movie began in black and white with some accented colors but gave an understanding that this seen happened in the past and exemplified the personalities of two main characters. His style of using visual methods like that throughout the movie forced the audience to take in as much of as they can to understand and enjoy Nowhere to Hide.
    The style of Nowhere to Hide keeps the audience entertained. The style of Nowhere to Hide reminded me of anime and comic books because of the exaggerated action, at times cheesy dialogue, and comedy throughout the movie. It felt as though Lee Myung made a live-action cartoon with all the stylized surreal moments, but he also made each shot look like it was meticulously drawn like it was for a comic book. In the article, it was mentioned that this movie was not critically acclaimed and should have been targeted toward art house crowd, but I believe that this is a movie for anyone who wants an authentic comic book movie. Comic books are still images and this movie is about movement, but when you read panels of a comic book the transition and actions are imagined, and the focus is not the word bubbles but the entire image. Lee Myung created beautiful mages and strung them together in way that visually entertaining and technically mesmerizing.

  • Shannon McHugh

    The first thing that I want to talk about is the unique character of Detective Woo. Detective Woo is always somewhat slouched when he’s walking or running almost like a gorilla and is one of those typical cops that chase criminals for a living. Every once in awhile, Detective Woo is serious, but in a way, he’s very funny. With his reckless and carefree attitude, he shows his unique attributes as a main character and lee[s the audience interested. For me, Detective Woo was hilarious. I would normally expect cops to be all “follow the procedures,” and do things in an orderly fashion, but Detective Woo and his crew did whatever it takes to find the criminal. They didn’t care about anything except finding the criminal. I thought that this was what made “Nowhere to Hide,” a eye-catching and unique movie.
    The director, Lee Myung-se, didn’t do a very good job with the fight scenes in my opinion, but considering the year that this movie was released, I don’t mind much. I felt that the fight scenes were very choppy and had a lot of room for improvement. When I think of an action movie, the fight scenes are the key to the movie. The fight scenes in “Nowhere to Hide,” were sometimes slow and unrealistic. To me, the more realistic the fighting is, the more interesting the movie is, but that’s just my opinion. Great film overall, but just a little improvement can make a huge difference.

  • Ghina

    “Nowhere to Hide” is so fun to watch because of the pure cinema. I loved the colors, music, and movements and which is really interesting.. One of my favorite song in the movie is Disco song “Holiday” The movie is about two detectives that have a really different personalities.
    Detective Woo ,is really obsessed of following and going for the bad guys no matter what, and he does things without really thinking. Detective Kim is smart and have moral conscious and very calm unlike D. Woo, but in fact that both D. Woo, and D.Kim is like two person in one. However, at the end I felt that both have exchanged personalities, for example at the barber shop, when D. Kim killed without thinking and D. Woo was calm. I loved the ending their friendship reminded me of JSA and how their honest friendship.

  • Osvaldo S

    “Nowhere to Hide”, By Lee Myung-se was like no other film I have ever seen. The film has its own type of genre specific to this movie, Lee Myung-se combined the typical action style that you would see in your run of the mill cop vs. bad guy movie. But what really separates this film from the normal action films is how Lee Myung-se incorporated a somewhat of a mystery theme to it also which is very unique. In the article it stated that this film was never critically acclaimed and should have been targeted to more of a art style audience, which I could see because this film reminded me me of anime styled films with the use of black in white color and the use of fast cut frame seen in most of the action scenes like the beginning where Chang Sung-min is seen murdering a man at the 40 stairs.
    Det. Woo who can be seen as the main character has a very unique personally, he is seen as a responsible person because he is a detective but throughout the scenes that he has more of a child like personality. Det. Kim is seen like the calmer detective with a more friendly approach to thinks where Det. Woo is violent and has somewhat of a short temper as scene where he gets in a fight with Fish-head when he should of just taken care of the situation better with a more professional approach without necessary violence. I very much enjoyed this film with its unique genre and can’t wait to see more films y Lee Myung-se.

  • Leila Music

    Nowhere to Hide (1999) a Lee Myung film that focused do much on the idea of movement. The film was action based that had many fight scenes which showed mkvement in a new perspective. Motion and color was a big factor in the film. The film was almost like a cartoony anime film, with many bold colors and soynds and the motion was very unique..tgeir wlukd be slow motion and stra ge motions were it would stop and go and stop and go. Lee’s action film was not all serious though. It was very comedic in many scenes. The characters personalities were so interesti g and enjoyable to watch and laugh at. I noticed that the detective almost had a sort of gorilla walk, sluggish and his face woykd make the face of an angry ape, to my surprise after ready g this article and what you have said in class, about how Lee focused on movement he even watched how animals moved. So maybe its true that detective woo took on the movement of an ale of some kind! The movie is definitely looked at as an experiement lee wanted to test out. And it was a damn good movie because of the fast paced, comedy, colors, of the film. And you were right, it does almost remind me of mad max haha.

  • Graeme

    I enjoyed this movie overall, but I found the purely filmic quality to be somewhat off putting – at least at first. I didn’t take as much issue with the lack of detail in the story but with how the plot seemed to meander to me. I would have preferred the story to be direct to more easily facilitate the action and movement. This criticism is moot however, because as we said in class, you shouldn’t criticize a piece of art for what it isn’t.
    The entire movie is about the chase. A detective chasing after a criminal. This ranges from finding clues and following a trail to actually running after people (often the latter). The focus on movement prevails through the entire movie making up the entirety of the plot and most of the scenes. More often than not there is movement in the frame whether it be running, fighting, or even dancing.
    Personally my favorite scene was the fight at the beginning with the freeze frames. The frantic fighting in black and white interspersed with stylized color freeze frames timed to the beat powerfully extenuate whatever motion is going on at that moment. Likewise as the film can be compared to a painting as a pure expression of the art form, these frames themselves show a painterly quality.

  • Sharon Kim

    “Nowhere to Hide” was a very interesting movie. At first I was quite confused on what was going on because it started off with a crime scene. and there seemed to be cuts. The film did not have much dialogue but rather seemed more like long series of pictures that continued on. As this article states, the movie puts movement as the top priority. By not really having quite a strong plot line, it emphasizes the actual picture on screen.
    However, the movie did have some plot. The most prominent part – of what I remember – may even be when Detective Kim shoots a person when he used to be the one who would stop Detective Woo from being too rough on the criminals. It seemed to portray that they were switching roles from one another.
    This movie also quite reminded me of the French New Wave films. Though they are indeed different, just as Cleo 5 to 7 was all about the pictures (that whenever you stop the film, it would look like a photograph), this film also is all about the motion. Every angle and every movement was quite well choreographed and set. Especially the angle from the train when all you see is Detective Kim standing in front Sung-Min for a split second and suddenly it hits you that Detective Kim has been stabbed.
    It was a good movie but it was definitely a harder one to watch since there was very little plot. Regardless, just watching the film, maybe even without the words, would still make it a well made film!

  • Isaac Choo

    “Nowhere to Hide”, directed by Lee Myung-Se, was a movie that showed me brand new genre call “Pure Action”. When Hollywood movies put basic structure of action (Hero saves the world and lived happily forever), “Nowhere to Hide” was a movie that blew me away for breaking the basic structure of action movies in my life. The main character Woo Even though he is the main character, he is not powerful nor smart like other Hollywood action main character. It’s surprising that Rotten tomato score was so low. I think reason for that is, they scored the movie by story and character builds. Which I believed it was not fair for this movie. This movie had amazing color and with scene with unique picture. Also their action scenes were very unique and individual style of action. I believe the score of this film should be re-calculated.

  • Julia Graehling

    I am shocked. I have never seen a movie like this, granted I have never been into watching foreign movies. But I am in love with all the movies we have watched so far. I had to pay extra attention to this to make sure I was understanding everything. Your articles always help me understand these movies and I wanted to say thank you for making everything so clear to me.
    There is not plot, the plot, the story, the characters are not the main focus. The main focus is on movement, colors, textures,music, and editing. This film was intriguing and strange to me.
    Definitely not used to this kind of style in film. Movement was a key element in this film and it was structured around it. I loved how at some points in the film it slowed down the pace and sometimes paused to show people what was really important. It made the movie seem more dramatic
    This whole film is about a chase between a detective and a criminal. From following trails and different clues. The movement would include walking, running, fighting, or dancing. Others would say this movie can be compared to art form because of the amount of color and how editing made it look. The fighting in black and white caught my attention because switching between color and black and white has always looked fascinating in my opinion. I was confused about this movie until I read your article and now I fully understand. During the whole movie I kept questioning what the plot was supposed to be. Really wish I read your article before watching this film!
    The cops in this came off as the bad guys/villains. Which is why it was the worst job to have. This film had a comedy side to it during the chase and just made the film so much better.
    Lee was focused on the details in this film. The details in the background instead of the main characters which I have never seen before. It definitely threw me off because at first I thought this was anime in between a cartoon. I was shocked when I read it was real actors performing anime moves.That must have taken a lot of time, rehearsal, and practice. Bravo to them and this movie

  • Mark David

    “Nowhere to Hide” was a very interesting film, it was nothing like I’ve seen before. There was a lot to take in right off the bat, a lot of noise, and violence with an interesting perspective on how we saw it with the movement and angles being like nothing I’ve seen before.
    The storyline was pretty basic of cop chasing bad guy for a murder, however the main detective’s Kim and Woo were very interesting, Kim was quiet and more professional while Woo was aggressive and much more violent and out going. Woo was so violent at one point in the film Kim says to Woo, do you want you pay docked again, as he is beating someone up. Kim gets very sad and emotional when he accidentally kills a guy that they are attempting to capture and interrogate. He calls Woo and looks for confirmation that it Is okay to kill a bad person, Woo seems hesitant to say yes, and I don’t think it made Kim feel better what Woo said, Kim stayed sad and then there was a scene of him crying on a swing set.
    Something else in this movie and the previous Korean film we saw was comedy in serious moments; as Kim is sitting on the swing set very sad and guilty, Woo starts throwing snow balls at him, and then they start chasing each other like children. There are a of moments like this in the film, where they act like children. Another part I enjoyed is when Woo is in his house interrogating one of the guys he caught earlier in the film, and he has him tied up and they are both eating noodles and slurping them up and it seems like a moment of ASMR that just cracked me up and made me think what the purpose of it was, but it really did add to the character of Woo, and after that he just kicks the bad guy as he does many people.
    Woo also would randomly have a really big smile in serious parts in the movie and it would throw me off why he would smile so creepy in such serious parts, but it was funny and just showed his character really well, it seemed like Woo was really childish and always wanted the last say and wanted to win and chase the bad guy no matter what. Like the last scene where even though he got his ass kicked, he still got up and was like, I’m not giving up, he just never gave up.
    Overall I really enjoyed the film and hunt of finding the killer, it was something new that I’m not used to and it made me laugh and kept my attention. The only thing I didn’t really enjoy is some of the movement when they would zoom in super close on someone’s face and then another guys face right after, it just wasn’t my thing, but overall a really good movie.

  • Nathaniel Kanter

    If I could define this movie with just two words, It would be dynamic and deceptive. In Lee Myung’s “Nowhere To Hide” is more than a smoking gun cop chase, it is a Tchaikovsky cannonball orchestra of mayhem and ludicrous violence. This is best demonstrated through it’s close quarters camera movements and late 19’s action live action cartoons effects. For a movie with little to no focus on the plot, it sure doesn’t leave out any detail while the ball is rolling. Right from the beginning we have detective Woo utterly thrashing an entire gang, leaving no member, no impact, and no possible bludgeon out of sight. This chaotic atmosphere is amplified directly proportionally to the number of people involved, for example the train fight scene being bathed in a rave like strobe effect simulating what the characters are currently experiencing during these frequent and brutal fights. Even during the rare moments of calm like in the apartment scene subtly paints a biography of the characters portraying detective Woo as a man bound but hellbent on his sole directive in life, lay down the law by any means necessary despite the fact he’s using his license as a food mat and he’s just about broken every sort of police protocol imaginable to the audience. Aside from the nonstop movement, this film is driven by emotion as well through Woo’s bombastic personality infecting the driving scenes with his partner Lee riding shotgun with Woo’s favorite song blasting at maximum volume but is contrasted towards the climax with the somber and lonely cruise with Chang Sung-min’s mistress riding shotgun with Woo’s steely gaze as he approaches the final showdown with the titular crime lord. The best of both of these scenic qualities come during the final battle, the rain is pouring, the ground is saturated with mud, but yet the close ups of each punch is focused making each blow seem like a violent hand wrapped present squeezing out the pain and catharsis of the pain inflicted. Despite the low focus on plot and character development, the cast have deep emotional and psychological facets. We have Woo animistic, selfish, and relentless behavior when it comes for a manhunt but as the movie progresses we learn that he genuinely has a strong sense of justice, caring of the welfare of the youth (likely sparked from the love from his family), punishing the mistress Kim from deleting critical information, and ultimately providing wisdom to a distraught Lee when he hastily wastes a unstable criminal in an impulse and roping him back to the fray. We have Lee being the most professional of the bunch but has moments of idle thoughts and insecurity. This is not exclusive as the other police are initially perceived to be just as bad as the thugs murdering the victim from the beginning, acting like the stooges but do follow the law and do care for each other, especially for men put out of commission.
    Overall this film is more than it let’s on despite it’s thunderous presentation, bringing forth complex characters for a simple game of cat and mouse.

  • Janet Camacho

    “Nowhere to Hide” definitely blew my mind in the sense that I was not what I had expected. After watching J.S.A. last week, I was thinking this film would be also an action film, and a comedy, but just that. However, we all came to see that this film had plenty of qualities that a film connoisseur would really be interested in. One quality is the fact that the camera movements played as big a part in the film as the characters. There was a chasing scene that took place in a very maze-like neighborhood, and instead of the camera showing a birds eye view of how it went down, we were able to follow the characters as they were running. This made it seem like the audience was also a part of the scene. The choice of music was also interesting. For example, like explained above, the use of a Bee Gees song as the background music while someone gets killed in such a horrible way. This reminded me of many horror films that will also use up beat songs while the killer is gruesomely murdering people. As for the low rotten tomatoes score, I feel like it’s hard to really appreciate this film for its creative qualities. Most people would just question the camera shots and angles, but if you learn to appreciate what the director was trying to convey in all aspects of the film, not just the main characters and their actions, it truly is brilliant.

  • Alex Barrett

    “Nowhere to Hide” left me shocked. I never expected it to end the way it did. It was a fast paced film and I felt like there was always something new happening. I never expected them to actually catch the guy they had been chasing the whole film. I did think that some of the scenes were unnecessary like the scene where the two detectives are talking about wanting a hot bowl of ramen but I think those type of scenes added a very unique look at the characters and their relationships with one another. The ending of the film I thought was the best by far. I just thought it was going to end with the bad guy getting away but then as I thought it was about to end you get a shot of the bad guy and about 100 cops sitting there waiting to get him. It was an amazing way to end it because they actually got the guy so it was like all the sacrifices they have made in their lives for their jobs or in order to catch the guy were actually worth sacrificing. I didn’t think at the beginning I would like this film but I thought it was a very good one!

  • Alexander Miehl

    The 1999 film, Nowhere to Hide, is director Lee Myung Se’s brilliant study and experiment in movement. You were right when you highlight the early death scene in the rain as a beautiful work of art. The slow anticipation of the scene mixed with the somber music from the Bee Gees created a very unique atmosphere for a death scene. This was Lee’s statement from the beginning that this was not a Hollywood action film. Just as the French New Wave films rejected the established French cinema, it seems Lee was also making his own, unique style of film in contrast to Hollywood and perhaps other Korean cinema, as well.

    As in that early death scene in the rain, most of the movie is in a constant state of movement. This is not just your regular action movie with some chase scenes and hand cam shots. This movie was in a perpetual state of motion. The plot was basically a long chase scene between some cops and the killer from the earlier scene. The camera has quick panning shots and slow panning shots. The editing inserting lots of unique fades in and out of scenes, and even use of jump cuts, which pull from Godard’s work in the 60’s.

    Even the seasons are moving in this film. Director Lee does a great job of establishing the season and the changing of the seasons throughout the film. The beginning of the film is clearly autumn with the fallen leaves and the cold rain. Near the middle of the movie it is winter, and there is snow in Seoul. This is section where the director slows down the movement ever so slightly and puts a small piece of family development for the loner of a main character. At the end of the movie it is spring, and the torrential rains of spring are an important character in the final fight/chase scene.

    Director Lee continues his onslaught of movement up until the very end of the movie. Even the final shot of the film is the main character paused in mid-movement. I don’t know much about this director, but I imagine he made more movies that showed a more refined use of movement after this assault of movement that he used throughout Nowhere to Hide. This was a masterpiece of art disguised as an action film.

  • Tania Jacob

    This week we watched “Nowhere to Hide” directed by Lee Myung-se in 1999. This was definitely one of those movies that if you look away for a little bit, your completely lost. I enjoyed the action and editing techniques like slow motion and the fighting scenes. Throughout the movie, we see Detective Kim and his teammates trying to catch the bad guy, Sung-kee. As predicted, they do catch Sung-kee in the end but in a unique way. I loved the ending fight scene where you think Sung-kee is going to get away but that was their plan all along. This scene was also entertaining with the music. There were some funny scenes added in the movie despite it being a Thriller/Crime movie. For example, like the one where they were thinking of soup on their stakeout. I appreciated Detective woo’s passion for his job, he didn’t have anything else to claim as his own besides his job and his team. I thought Lee Myung had a good time making this film. I agree when you said “he didn’t want to focus on the characters”. You can tell early of that this isn’t your normal character driven film. Overall, I did enjoy this film and would watch more movies by Lee Myung.

  • Max Taddeo

    Nowhere to Hide was a very unique film. What you had brought up in your article is exactly what I found to stand out so much in this film. What it was, is movement. Every scene involves some sort of movement. There was either action in the form of Woo fighting someone, or weather such as driving rain or snow. Even when the movie seemed to slow down in order to display a location or time, just as you begin to finish reading what is on screen, bullet holes get shot through it and you hear several loud gun shots. You did mention that the movie’s focus isn’t the characters, but I think that Woo as a character stands out and also shares characteristics with the main characters in J.S.A. In both movies the characters are very goofy and childlike. For example, when Woo is fighting someone and they all of a sudden begin to dance. I could see a child getting distracted from the reason that he or she may be fighting someone and start to dance with them just because they think it’s fun and they are a kid. In addition, when Woo is trying to cheer up Kim, he does it by pestering him with snow balls and making him get mad at him rather than think about his problems. This is something kids do all the time. What else seems similar to J.S.A. and may be common with all South Korean cinema, I haven’t seen enough to know if this is a common theme but, I’ve noticed that both movie so far have a dark side to them that they wash away and distract you from by making the movies goofy and childlike. When Woo is trying to cheer up Kim, I believe it is because he recently killed someone. Most people’s way of helping someone who just killed a man would not be to have a snowball fight with them. Also, the movie isn’t super gory but there is a lot of fighting. Then fighting is also covered with goofy cartoon like visuals. Things like, zooming in on a fist as it travels through the air to punch someone and when people get punched, they fly through the air and when they land on the ground the screen shakes as if they initiated an earthquake. It was once again attention grabbing to see another unique film. The action was also appreciated. Nowhere to Hide is one of the most unique films watched this semester behind only The Umbrellas of Cherbourg.

  • crdgirl1

    This unique film has definitely earned its place in my top list of movies from South Korea. I hae notices that this movie has influenced south korean film and tv. especially the character Detective Woo. I have seen many variations of this character in tv shows, movies and even comics. In movies such as A Violent Prosecutor, the main character is always a “never goes by the rules” cop tasked with stopping a criminal while eventually gaining a personal motivation to apprehend him. Aside from the characters infuencing other works. The creative filmography which Directer Lee Myung-Se employs bleeds into other countries films as well. the unique shots, and color effects seen here are also found in the Thai movie Tears of the Black tiger. I especially loved the goofy cartoon like fighting sequences because they are evocative of the types of korean and japanese cartoons popular at the time like the gundam series.

  • Emily Belga

    Nowhere To Hide is a piece of playful but intentional art and because of its imprecise promotion, severely underrated. It was held to theaters by its plot and not the tasteful directing and editing it truly embodies. To say that this film has a bad plot is just missing the point of the movie entirely. Many modern directors intentionally scatter a handful of pivotal scene techniques throughout a film, and Lee has done the same, except of course he blatantly puts an insane amount. His seemingly aimless editing technique is arguably satiric in that it imitates different styles of film and takes it to an extreme. In doing so, he also asks the audience to reach into other realms of their lives to connect with that one moment. He crafted an action dense but blandly plotted film and handpicked large and small motifs to put every visual and sound effect ever into perspective. Lee had made this masterpiece as if he was god looking down after adding tiny details to an intricate universe deceptively existing as an accident, knowing all the while that only some would marvel its beauty. On purpose, he almost overused cinematic devices to convey a piece that is not meant to be read like a book, but observed like a painting. The placements and displacements of small artful moments in the film all compose one cohesive collage of recklessly deliberate chaos. Even though it isn’t the most memorable facet, he did place subtle characterization in the protagonist Woo and ironic scenes like the fighting turned waltz scene that depict themes we have already seen in entirely different eras and places like the French new wave.

  • Jazlyn Castaneda

    Nowhere to hide was a funny movie!
    Unlike JSA which was more about thriller & emotion Nowhere to hide focused more on the film & the different forms to shoot each scene. It was a more comical and playful throughout its scenes. While reading the article I read that this movie had gotten 44% rotten tomatoes and it makes sense why, because it’s not your typical movie. During some scenes of the movie I felt like the scenes were portrayed a comic. The only emotional scene I think this movie had was when one of the cops killed the bad guy and he felt extremely bad. He became sad and that’s when the other cop became sad as well and went to go visit his family.

  • Kyle O'Shanna

    This film, while seemingly unfocused on any plot or story, offers the viewer plenty to consider while watching. Movement, music, and intentional camera shots describe this film. Nowhere to Hide opens with the main character detective Woo strutting around a warehouse area like an animal searching for his pray. This is the first sign that the director has done research on movement. He gets himself into a fight where he is totally outnumbered, but he is able to kick ass until his colleagues show up for back up. One of the things I really like about this film is the use of hand held, close quarters combat weapons: knifes, clubs, bats, metal rods, fists, etc. This absolutely forces the sequences to be full of movement. Many action movies can get kind of boring or ridiculous with all the gun use because they are either terribly inaccurate and always missing until the climax, or a lot of the shootouts take place without hand to hand combat or extreme movement. I also really enjoyed that detective Woo continues to get eluded by Sung-Min which continues to paint pictures of chase scenes and fights the detective Woo never wins. That is also so opposite of a Hollywood action movie. In this film the main character never actually gets the satisfaction of kicking his enemies ass, or taking him down personally. He is able to win by getting beat down long enough for back up to arrive, and he also never allows his spirit to be crushed, he rises from the mud with his fists up. In keeping with the movement theme, even during the most emotional scene of the movie when detective Kim is on the park swing they turn it into a scene with a bunch of movement. While many films might take this opportunity to slow down and be serious for a moment, instead detective Lee engages detective Kim in a snowball fight in order to cheer him up but also to keep the scenes moving. During some of the chase scenes such as the one between Woo and the guy leaving the club who seems to abusing the girl, you can see where director Lee Myung Se utilized his research again. There is a long run scene where I think they resembled soccer players running. It seemed more intentional than an overly drastic or dramatic run scene where arms are flailing and they appear to be in full sprint. It was interesting how funny this film was in contrast to an otherwise dark, gloomy, crime story.

  • Matthew J. Strehler

    This movie was, as you mentioned in class and in your article, a way for the director to try and do something crazy; to focus completely on the movement of the film, instead of developing the characters of the plot. I personally cringed pretty hard during the first half of the movie because of all of the unnecessary edits that were thrown about willy nilly that didn’t really fit the movie at all. It was like watching one of those super over edited youtube videos where the youtuber has no real content but is just trying to make a video so they throw in a million annoying edits to take up time. I found this style in the movie to be incredibly annoying for the first half of the movie.
    The director chose to shoot the movie in some cities of South Korea, without a set being built and it adds to the historical value of the movie as well as giving us an idea of what life is like in other parts of the world. I thought that it was very cool how even though there was almost absolutely no plot to this movie, the director made sure that all of the characters backstories were believable. One of the instances of this I’d like to highlight was when he showed how trashy the house of the police officer was. In a lot of movies, the officers are living in mansions on tiny salaries, which is completely unrealistic. I think that it is also interesting how the director always had something moving in every scene of the movie. There was an immense amount of movement in the film, and if you missed any of it then a lot of what happened after wouldn’t make sense. I think that this movie works because it was the first of its kind, however, I do not think that any movies following that are edited in the same style would succeed. I think that this was a one-time act just to show that the rules could be broken, but I don’t think that it showed that those particular rules should be broken.
    There were many funny elements in the movie, however, they were very shallow and could only be taken at face value. This really took away a couple of layers of feeling from the movie, and made it really seem like we were watching a movie, rather than being in that situation with those actors. The director also had some interesting choices in music and he choreographed every single shot in the movie with the beat of the music.
    I think that your article helped a lot with understanding how the movie was intended to be viewed, and I think that if I was to watch it again after having read your article I would likely pick up on a lot more of the nuances the director incorporated into the film.

  • Megan Atwood

    Nowhere to hide was a really good movie. It was so different than the movie J.S.A. This movie was really funny and it was more entertaining to watch. J.S.A. was more suspenseful. That one scene where a guy was killed but they never showed him acutely get hit in the head with the knife. The way the movie was filmed was so different than anything we have seen yet. It was filmed more like a carton in some scenes. In the article it said this movie got a 44% on rotten tomatoes which makes scene to me because there are some scenes where it felt like it was a comic. Like when a guy got the shoe prints on his face that really only happens in a comic not in real life. The only scene that I felt like the actors had emotions was when the cop shot a bad guy and felt bad about what he did.

  • Sandra Kruzel

    Nowhere to hide was a thriller, yet very comedic. So many different parts and elements just reminded me of animes I used to watch or other movie tricks I’ve seen. A comedy movie disguised as a thriller. There was suspense for sure, but I found myself laughing at many of the fighting scenes. For example, when Woo and Meathead started dancing in the middle of fighting between the clotheslines and the dramatic yet hilarious scenes that their shadows produced during it.
    On another note, I started to use parts of this movie to describe to my friends what an “aries” is. One of the main characters, Detective Woo, was the epitome of an aries. The anger, the quick temper, yet small witty remarks were so on point with classic aries behavior and I truly loved it. Even my female aries friends got a kick out of it.
    Going back to dramatic scenes being turned into comedy, there was also the last scene where Woo and Chang Sungmin fought each other and both landed the last hit on each other at the same time. It was an intense scene, yet got me giggling for sure.
    Unlike J.S.A, where it the meaning behind it was dark and slightly morbid, this movie was the opposite. It seemed morbid yet it was light and harmless. The gore in Nowhere to Hide was very comedic, while J.S.A gory scenes were very graphic and almost hard to watch.

  • Lloyd Trinidad

    Nowhere to Hide was an interesting film. I personally had to change how I watched this film because of it being less plot-driven than the other films that we viewed in class. One of the films that I would compare it to that we watched is Contempt. This is because I view these two films more of an artistic piece. In Nowhere to Hide, because there is a limited plot, it kept me engaged through the experimental edits and the humorous moments in the film. Although Contempt has more of a plot, there are artistic choices that Godard made that are interesting.

  • Branden Wagner

    The film “Nowhere to Hide” is definitely a unique film especially for its time. Mainly because of the silliness and the weird and wacky fighting but also the amount of thought that went into these scenes also really makes it a better film. I’m not saying other films don’t put thought into their films, that’s not what I’m saying at all, what I am saying is that you can that these wacky scenes have a lot of thought behind them and they weren’t just some fighting scenes the filmmakers just through together and were like ‘Yeah that’s pretty funny and entertaining’. It’s also the small things too like the little edits they did to the movie to give it that extra oomph such as when Woo is fighting Meathead and he jumps on top of him and the screen shakes up and down. This scene still would have been funny without that edit but it’s the edits like that throughout the film that make it unique and hysterical… and kind of cartoonish. People try to compare this to a Western film (mainly American) because of how there is a lot of action and there is a hero that saves the day or does whatever needs to be done no matter what and does not give up. But it is extremely different because usually western films have a hero that is really strong, serious and really knows what they are doing and do things professionally which almost the opposite of what we see in the “Nowhere to Hide” because he is never really doing things by the book, professionally, nor is he a really buff guy like the stereotypical Western movie hero. This film, if anything, took a completely different approach with a hero that does whatever to get the job done. Sure, it wasn’t professional, it was funny and comedic, but the character showed extreme persistence throughout the film by never giving up even towards the end of the film when he is getting straight up beaten in the fight with the main villain/bad guy. Overall good film with great editing and clever scenes that really make everything about this film great. In my opinion, the film deserves way better ratings especially with the rotten tomatoes.

  • Lorenz Coballes

    Nowhere to Hide was definitely a very fun film to watch. Although the film received very low reviews, I found the film to be a very enjoyable. Reviews tend to focus on characters and story development so I can understand why the film scored kind of low in those points. Also the low reviews could have definitely been from how it was marketed versus what the film actually was.

    I don’t know if this is a common thing in Korean new wave cinema, but when compared to the other film we watched in class, JSA, there is definitely a strong similarity with these adult characters being childish. The main character Detective Woo is definitely a very childish and hot headed. His childish nature however is kept in check by his younger partner Detective Kim who is very serious and follows the rules. It kinda shows that with age people tend to be less uptight and want to go back to the days where they were free to do whatever as if they were a child.

    Referring back to your comment on movement in the film. Movement plays a very significant part in the film. Not only in the action scenes but even in the way characters walk and present themselves. Detective Woo’s walkstyle is similar to an gorilla which exemplifies his very wild and animal like tactics when torturing and fighting people. Detective Kim on the other hand is very stoic in how he presents himself and has proper posture, when put side by side with Woo, you can definitely tell that Kim is the serious one.

    Overall, Nowhere to Hide was very fun to watch and did a good job with the use of movement in the film and it’s childlike nature definitely showed that the director Lee Myung-se knew what this film was and had fun with it.

  • Kate Franks

    NOWHERE TO HIDE, by Lee Myung-se offered an insightful look into what movement really means to us. With the help of an action-focused film, Lee uses careful yet erratic editing styles to highlight movement we otherwise would not be very mindful of. Specifically, Lee uses strobe lighting and freeze-frame editing that highlight more subtle movements. For example, in one scene we see a man’s arm moving through the air in a downward motion. Rather than seeing his hand (which is typically the main focus), we see his arm and the freeze-frames of it as it moves. We don’t often think about smaller motions like that, rather focusing on big ones or specific limbs (hands, legs, head, etc.) or major movements (walking, hand motions). In addition to this, Lee also had the main character, Detective Woo, walk similarly to an animal. Lee had said he’d studied animal movement meticulously prior to making this film, and specifically with Detective Woo it is very obvious. Detective Woo often walks as though he naturally would walk on all fours, not unlike a type of monkey or gorilla. Lee’s very careful and intentional creation of NOWHERE TO HIDE is very reminiscent of the French New Wave movement, where they often used very experimental editing styles as well as intentional creation for their movies. The most “French New Wave” aspect however, is the satire. Although this movie is about a murderer that Detective Woo is almost pitifully desperate to catch, none of the film ever creates a dark atmosphere. When we see Detective Woo in his run down apartment with a potential suspect, it’s nothing but humorous. When Detective Woo is fighting the killer, Chang Sungmin, in the dark, rain, and mud, it is one of the most entertaining and engaging scenes within the entire film. These elements of intentional satire and purposeful lack of gloom, combined with the very eclectic editing styles create a film that is self-aware which in turn also makes the audience selfaware.

  • Renato Matusima

    NOWHERE TO HIDE by Lee Myung-se was definitely a weird film, action packed, and heavily edited. This film shows how a heavily edited film can really tell a story on its own. The freeze frames, zoom ins and stare offs with the characters almost makes you seem like you’re watching a cartoon or anime while the characters are in battle. This can be taken almost as a comedic point of view. Each character really shows a different personality the main character is very silly and child like while his partner detective Kim is very serious. Detective Woo with his fellow officers under cover really engages the action thriller that the film provides. I think if this movie did not have the heavily edited, and dramatic fight scenes it would not be as entertaining. The freeze frames really add to the artistic side of the film, each frame it paused on looked like a picture instead of being part of a film. You can tell Lee Myung-se really wanted to make an artistic and creative film his way, no matter what anyone else wanted to see.

  • Amel Djurovic

    Nowhere to Hide directed by Lee Myung-se is a fresh take on a common plot of detectives trying to find a killer. This movie was a great watch since the action scenes were so different and unorthodox to the movies I have seen prior.. The story follows Detective Woo and his crew as the hunt for Chang Sungmin, the city gangster and murderer. The film shows the detectives going on a search by finding people associated with Sungmin and eventually finding his whereabouts.I agree with the article how the movement was the focus and it captured my attention early on. The long chases along with the fight scenes seemed choreographed and thought out. One example of a good fight scene is when Woo finds Meathead. They start fighting one on one and it is visible that Meathead is stronger and doing more damage. The camera then proceeds to pan to the wall and shows their shadows fighting for a mean period of time. It was a very different shot and really highlighted the fight rather than the characters involved in the fight. One thing that shows that the plot did not matter to me was when the female, Juyon, was introduced since she had a relationship to Sungmin. I thought that she would end up being a love interest for Woo but she did not look like that until the last scene of the film. Even then, it is not a given that they end up in a relationship. Overall, Nowhere to Hide directed by Lee Myung-se was a movie that took the over done genre of action and made it fresh and enjoyable to watch.

    • michaelgloversmith

      I love the fight with Meathead and the way it turns into a shadow puppet play! And, at another point, it looks like they’re dancing (underscored by tango music on the soundtrack). What a crazy-ass movie. 10/10

  • kenya Cantu

    “Nowhere to Hide” was a thriller/comedy/action movie. It had a little bit of everything. The story was basically cops trying to find/chase a bad guy for making a murder. That’s when Detective Kim and Detective Woo come in and start their investigation for the murderer. Detective Woo is very childish (walking like an animal, being silly) and Detective Kim is very strict and follows the rules. This movie blew my mind away because I didn’t think they were going to actually catch the bad guy in the end. One funny scene that made me laugh was when Sungmin fought Woo. During that scene it was also very entertaining because there was a lot going on. They were fighting in the dark, it was very moody, and it was raining. The director did a good job with the different scenes and color that it had. There were also many different camera movements (slow motion shots, ground eye view, following the people running, fading of scenes, cool fight scenes, dramatic scenes).
    This movie reminded me of Cleo from 5 to 7. Cleo started off with color then switched to black and white. Nowhere to Hide started with black and white then it went to color. Both movies had music that was following their movements. JSA and Nowhere to Hide have been entertaining and enjoyable movies to watch in this crazy situation that we are in.

  • Marvin Delos Reyes

    The film Nowhere to Hide was a fun and easy watch since the plot for a film of two cops chasing a murderer is easy to follow. In this film, the cops are Detective Woo and Detective Kim and they are on the hunt for Sungmin who had just stabbed a man to death and took off with a briefcase full with cash. As you mentioned, the film has a low rating on Rotten Tomatoes. I can understand why some people would not think highly of this film, but there is a lot to be looked at in this film besides the actual plot. To watch this film, the audience should pay more attention to the editing more than plot. For example, it was apparent that editing was very important to Lee. You brought up how Lee studied the art of movement and how to capture it which translated to how he shot the fight scenes.
    In terms of the fight scenes, they felt like anime fight scenes to me because of all the editing. Specifically, the murder scene which you described as an “action set piece” which I can agree with because of all of the elements that made the scene what it was. Lee also uses other editing techniques for the fight scenes such as jump cuts, slow motion, and camera panning and close ups. Another aspect to Lee’s vision for the film includes his use of black and white filter. Specifically, Lee used the black and white and the sudden switch to color at some points of the fighting pretty effectively in the beginning. The opening scene incorporates both the black and white filter and the editing techniques that I mentioned earlier. For example, Lee uses a dissolving transition into the part in the subway cart. In this scene, he uses both fast and slow motion, close ups, and freeze frames. In conclusion, Nowhere to Hide was more of an artistic film in my eyes as it can be compared to Jean-Luc Godard as you mentioned.

  • Tom Atkins

    This week we watched Nowhere to Hide, directed by Lee Myung, which I very much so enjoyed. Like you stated in the article, this movie is a prime example of “pure cinema.” Personally, I believe the movie, overall, was interesting. Although the strong factor of the movie to me was the visual selection Lee Myung demonstrated. The movie really reflected his true passion and talent in film. There were many unique and creative shots and transitions, which made the story an afterthought because of how interesting the images on the screen were presented. You could compare this type of filmmaking to a real-time comic book. Like we learned in class, this movie was similar to films in the French New Wave due to its focus on characters over plot. The story itself is simple but incorporates a deep understanding of the characters. The story was told based on shots and implications. You can say that the movie focused on the visual elements of cinema to tell the story. In the movie, it started in black and white with some slight colors. Although, we still had an understanding that this scene happened in the past and revealed the personalities of two main characters. This very creative yet complicated style of filmmaking, being the use of visual-heavy scenes, forced the audience to really pay attention and figure out what Myung is telling us. Overall, an interesting and entertaining movie with some cheesy dialogue and deep character focus. Like you stated in your article, the movie was rated so high, but I think this movie can be highly enjoyed by the right audience.

  • Rosa Inserra

    The best way to describe Nowhere to Hide is experimental, it felt like watching a video made by someone that used an editing app for the first time. That’s not a bad thing, some of the edits were really cool and made it feel like you were watching an action anime. My favorite parts were when it went from black and white to flashes of color, and the shadow fight scene. I’ve only seen shadow scenes used for a few seconds, so seeing it last longer and used for part of the action was really funny and very interesting to look at. Other edits, like the choppy slowed down edit, gave me a headache the longer I looked at it. Other shots that seemed overdone were the shots that rotated around the character or object, it felt like you were spinning on a merry-go-round at a playground. The overall story was very easy to follow but felt a little dragged on near the end, it was like looking at a dog chasing its own tail. Throughout the whole movie, I was wondering the legality of what they were doing, torturing the suspects in custody and breaking into that woman’s home without a warrant.
    These are just my opinions, I know that a lot of other people really enjoyed it, but it wasn’t my favorite South Korean movie.

  • Rukhsar Rafique

    This movie has left me surprised. The director took a very basic plot and made it into an extremely complex movie. The slow-motion shots, jump cuts, sudden stops and transitions all gave life to this movie. I never felt that any of that was being overused, it just felt that it was falling into place every time it was done. Though this movie does have an experimental aspect to it. The way it is filmed which static pauses and the choice of background music can both be a hit and miss. It is amazing to see that even though the background music wasn’t subtle at times, it never bothered me or interrupted the scene. It can be sensed throughout the movie that the director was trying to create a different type of movie and throwing in all sorts of ideas he had which is what gives this movie originality. Lee is surely not one of the directors that put the comfort of the audience over the style of the movie and many times during the movie I felt uncomfortable yet paid complete attention because of the continuous suspense and thrill.

    This movie isn’t just any movie where cops are after a murderer, it has a lot more it. The mix of comedy on even the most serious scenes is absolutely mind-blowing. For instance, the scene where both the detectives are imagining the ramen bowl, that scene was unnecessary yet necessary at the same time. It didn’t appreciate the plot or advance the story but it allowed the audience to make a connection with the characters, something that would eventually help the plot. These few moments throughout the movie showed the friendship Woo shared with Kim. It also showed that Woo wasn’t just a cocky detective, he was also funny, loving and understanding. Woo’s random smile in serious parts of the movie threw me off, as it would make no sense, but it was funny and gave life to his cocky character. Woo throughout the movie showed his urge to have the final say. This is evident in the last scene where even after he was badly injured he brought both his hands up and gave his signature smile to show that he didn’t give up.
    I love how the seasons keep changing throughout the movie. I agree with your article where you mentioned that the main focus of the movie wasn’t the plot or the characters, it was rather the movement. Changing seasons did appreciate the concept of movement. In the beginning, it was autumn as the leaves were falling. Towards the middle it was winter and snow was seen. And towards the end, it felt like spring as the final fight scene reflects. Hence, movement was indeed a very significant part of the movie. It was evident in the fights, action scenes and also just how the characters presented themselves.
    All in all, Nowhere to hide is a fun watch. The director Lee Myung-see did an amazing job with the use of movements, sudden shots, and background music. The element of friendship is something that will stay with me from this movie and also JSA. Both of these movies have really changed the way I used to view Korean movies.

  • Giuseppe Inserra

    The film “Nowhere to Hide” directed by Lee Myung-se is, in my opinion, an avant-garde piece of work that will not resonate with everybody that watches it. For me, I did not entirely enjoy watching this movie because of how different it is and the techniques used by Lee such as his use of two different kinds of slow motion, one being a standard slow motion as seen early on when Woo was chasing the first suspect Fishhead when he was chasing him. The other kind of slow-motion was one that seemed like a step by step slow-motion and the best example of this is when Sung-min uppercuts Detective Woo into the muddy water and as soon as his blow connects the frame by frame slow motion editing is used and it looks pretty damn cool. At times it seemed that there was a bit of overediting and too much going on to comprehend what is happening especially when the plot, which is not super important, is not entirely known. I think the biggest problem I had with this film is how it starts because it feels like Lee just drops you into the middle of a film and the audience is playing catch-up and failing miserably. The fight scenes were easily the best part of the film and the way they are edited and filmed is magnificent. My favorite scene has to be when they are fighting on the moving train and you get that sense of foreboding of one of the characters possibly being knocked off because of the other and it makes the scene pretty scary. Overall I liked this film and would watch other films directed by Lee, but this was not my favorite film and not my favorite South Korean film.

  • Katherine Meyers

    While watching ‘Nowhere to Hide,’ by Lee Myung-se, I find seeing his goal while creating this film fairly obvious. As we are given vague, but important details; we never delve into any of the main characters backstories. Instead, the viewers are presented with a solid soundtrack accompanied by clips and an editing style that concrete the three together harmoniously. These clips present the goal of Lee’s focus on motion. The best way to describe Lee’s style in this film is by comparing it to that of an action cartoon or a comic-book. With various back to back shots, done with both extremely slow and fast shutter paces; we are forced to remain centered on the actions that occur.

    The easiest scene to showcase this is with the title scene. As we are introduced to our lead characters; the cuts are dead-pointed on the detectives actions; to the way the sit down, strike with a weapon- to even the squeak of their shoes and what caused it- if a background character is still in awe; the clip is elongated and slowdown to emphasize that lack of motion.

    I very much enjoyed watching this film. As a photographer; I took a deep interest in the experimental style and various view points. And as simply a person; I enjoyed the comedy sprinkled throughout; especially during Meathead’s and Woo’s fighting scene with slow dance music or Woo’s and Kim’s stakeout Ramen fantasy. I’d very likely watch this movie again; with my friends enjoying foreign films, I could see this as a good movie night and would highly recommend.

  • Zuriel Zepeda

    Nowhere to Hide is a Lee Myung-se directed film where dictivevs investgates a murder of a man holding a brelf case which the audince donesn’t knowing whats inside. Detective Woo is the main character of the movie and uses any method to crack the case. It may be immoral but he does get the job done.
    The thing about this movie is the plot is more of the sideshow, but the main course is the visuals and movement. Sure, the slow motion in the film is choppy because the filmmakers used 24 frames than 60 frames with a cleaner look. Nevertheless, it was a trend at the time of 1999 and at the same time, it really worked to its benefits. Rather than showing some hand waving around in slow motion, Lee used fights and action within his scenes that made it feel fun and new to the eye. The reason for his interest of movement was he studied motions from animals to soccer players during the World Cup. It really pulls in the audience in being in this universe. I see it as visual poetry
    However, Nowhere to Hide with its fast pace editing throughout the movie has two slow moments that dived in more about detective Woo. One of them is when Woo gets a drink with the lady where he is using her as bait for the main villain. He explained why he became a detective and always wanted to be one as a kid. Another one is when Woo came to visit his sister and the family and shows that he’s really a nice guy and cares about his sister and the family. Both of these scenes really put a hail within the film and gives the audience some breathing air with all the action scenes. Before, I couldn’t understand why some movies do that which ruins the flow and pacing. But with this one, it does help out not only the pacing yet also helping draw in the other side of Woo. Sure, his ethics and also the police forces need to be checked with all the beatings of suspects but with Woo its understandable why. I’m not in support of it but I can see why.

  • Petar Spasojevic

    We were assigned to watch another South Korean Cinema movie which was directed by Lee Myung-Se. The movie Nowhere to Hide came out in 1999, but the ratings were not that great. Don’t get me wrong there are some amazing films that have had some horrible ratings. We, as a society, are very quick to judge and movies have been in that category. Due to rotten tomatoes some people are swayed towards watching a movie or not watching it at all. For me I do the same thing. The big mistake is that we check ratings too often. Every person is different and has their own taste to what movies they would like to see and not. When you said in your article, “I believe this film could have been more successfully pitched to the art house crowd since more accurate and fruitful points of comparison can be made between it and early Jean-Luc Godard or the playful/surreal yakuza movies of Seijun Suzuki.” I agree with this because if it were more successfully pitched then the ratings would have been better causing more individuals willing to view this film. One thing that this film did with the music, the character’s voices, and comic-like freezes is that it shows the hidden elements in this movie. Each shot had its own value to the whole story. Another thing I noticed is that most of the scenes are very close up shots of either an individual’s face or their actions. Through this I believe that the director was trying to show the importance of each scene through a facial expression or body language. It was very odd seeing this because I have seen a little bit of this type of style in movies prior to this one, but not the whole movie as Nowhere to Hide was.
    The movie was comical and entertaining at times which I loved to see. When Detective Woo and Sung-min were running up and down the narrow alley at night, to me I was always engaged because I was trying to see if one would ever catch the other, which it did happen in the end. This is where the comic book parts come in and remind me of that aspect. Throughout the film there were parts where they were slower paced which I could see affecting the ratings. A lot of people like when movies are constantly action packed and when the slow scenes come on they truly despise those. Like I stated before some scenes would stop and this to me showed importance to the film and even made it more dramatic.The fighting scene at the end was marvelous just because of how it was directed and the outcome truly shocked me. In every other film that I have seen usually the protagonist wins, but in this film there was a twist which truly shocked me as the antagonist won. I feel like the beginning of the murder that happens in the rain and the ending, where Chang Sung-min and Detective Woo are fighting in the rain is very amazing. This to me reminded me of the French New Wave movies we have seen because they either open up with a water object or close off with it, but in this film they opened up and closed with it. One final thing that I want to mention is that Lee Myung-Se did an amazing job with the music. During many scenes the music made me more engaged and especially at the end with the fighting scene. To conclude I just want to say that this film is not for everyone and that there is a right and wrong audience for the appreciation of this film like you stated in your article. To me personally it wasn’t the best movie we have seen just due to the fact of how it was directed with the close up shots. Don’t get me wrong that was very unique and brought a lot of significance to many scenes, but for me I truly did not like that. Overall the film was good, but not the best movie we have seen in class.

  • Edin Djencic

    Nowhere to Hide

    Lee Myung-Se’s bizarre and experimental action/thriller “Nowhere to Hide” (1999) is an energetic and sporadic South Korean film that follows two homicide detectives on a trail of a killer. The movie is centered around the kinetic movement rather than the overall plot, which is fairly simple. Due to bad marketing, the movie was not well received in the west, but it is considered a classic in the Korean new wave cinema.
    The choreography is on full display here. The movie starts off on a high note as it introduces the audience with the main cast in a very stylistic way. This black and white intro, along with a few colored still shots, introduces the audience to Woo (Joong-Hoon park), the bad cop, as he walks into a room full of gangsters who are pinching an old man for money. Woo, a one-man army, fights all of the gangsters in a very energetic and action-oriented way. Men are being tackled and thrown sideways, glimpses of martial arts are blended with the use of firearms, and a lot of men tiptoeing their way around each other, waiting for the opponent’s next move. Lee studied animal movement and World Cup soccer matches in order to portray the best movement possible in his film (Smith). This is best represented throughout the intro but it is not lacking throughout the movie whatsoever. The next main character we are introduced to is Kim (Jang Dong-gun), the good cop, who is in a chase down in a subway. He is accompanied by his other colleagues of the precinct and they are looking to arrest a man with a knife for reasons the audience is never given. The following scene is in full color and is the most crucial scene when it comes to the story. The main antagonist Chang Sungmin (Ahn Sung-kee) assassinates a man while the Bee Gee’s “Holliday” is playing. This sets the whole minimalistic plot in motion as Woo and Kim go on a suspect hunt. Woo, who becomes a fan-favorite, goes from one action-filled to another, either fighting all his suspects or engaging in a chase scene with them. The movie becomes a borderline comedy at times as some scenes, whether intentional or unintentional, becomes funny ordeals. For example, Woo takes his second suspect to his apartment as they converse over a bowl of ramen to which the suspect praises Woo. Woo, while sitting, kicks the suspect and grabs him by the neck while lifting a weight with his other hand. The other example would be when they take in this suspect and the whole precinct gets in on the action and start beating up the suspect. These scenes are jarring at first, but when a film is filled with them the audience comes to accept it and in the end, it becomes a staple of the film. Towards the end, while on a chase for Chang Sungmin on a train, detective Kim gets shot. Woo follows Chang and the final brawl between the two is nothing short of iconic. For what can be inferred as a train scrapyard, the two dish it out in cinematic glory. They exchange a few blows, but they do so in hard rain, mud, and all bruised up. The movement from Woo, in particular, is jaw-dropping. When he gets punched by Chang he flies up and then down to the ground so dramatically one would think a stuntman was pulling the strings of the film. Woo gets the upper hand and Chang is arrested. One of the last scenes is when the whole precinct visits Kim in the hospital whose heart monitor is slowly beeping, meaning he is dying. What’s interesting about this scene is the harmonica line from “Once Upon a Time in The West” (1968) starts playing in the background. It was a bizarre addition but in good taste.
    Overall, it is a pretty mediocre film whose mediocrity serves it well. The movie isn’t trying to be plot-heavy, symbolic, or deep. It doesn’t have the audience on the edge of its seat. The movie is just fun to sit through and watch as we follow the ragtag group of homicide detectives engage in one fanatic scene to another. The choreography and movement were the main points of the film and Lee successfully delivered in that department offering an action-packed, and often time funny, thriller.

    Smith, Michael Glover. “Spotlight on South Korean Cinema: Nowhere to Hide.” White City Cinema, 4 Aug. 2013, whitecitycinema.com/2013/08/04/spotlight-on-south-korean-cinema-nowhere-to-hide/.

  • Vasco Sousa

    Lee Myung-Se’s visually arresting film falls more under meta-cinematic rather than genre-film territory. The yakuza plot of the film operates ultimately as a vehicle for Lee’s bold style. One of the most prominent elements, the main conveyor of style, is the editing, which blatantly calls attention to itself. The film is chock-full of jump-cuts, overlays, and freeze-frames that divert the viewers attention away from the characters on screen. These elements, substantially more present during action sequences, amplify the impression of movement, which Lee was so obsessed with. As much they distract from the plot as a whole, however, these filmic elements elevate the moments into something more awesome than the merely diegetic. In this respect, the film is surely to be most valued from a point of appreciation for cinema as an art form. As merely an action-film, the viewing can fall a little flat, although there are a few good fight scenes. One could argue there is not a whole lot of substance to the story, but fuck me if it’s not a pleasure to watch. It’s an orgy of unabashed style and self-aware filmic ingredients that any art-house moviegoer is sure to lap up.

  • Genevieve Bean

    Nowhere To Hide directed by Lee Myung-se is an experimental action film that was genuinely a lot of fun to watch and experience. The films cuts and camera movements were like that of the french new wave, but in an entirely different and more creative direction.
    When watching you can see where Lee’s work of animal footage and soccer matches inspired several scenes throughout the film. Lee uses several tracking shots during fighting and chasing scenes, a major one that comes to mind immediately is during the chase scene in which Detective Woo chases after the man in the white outfit after the man tried to rape a girl. That scene reminds me of the minimal amount of sports matches I have seen where the camera closely follows along the movements of players as they run along the field.
    Lee also uses shots from different perspectives during fighting or murder scenes such as the murder scene at the beginning of the movie where Sung-min murders the man with the briefcase. The scene starts from the eyes of an outside viewer but cuts to being the murder victim as the knife cuts the umbrella in half in front of the camera.
    The music only enhances the enjoyment when watching the film, especially in fight scenes such as that with Meathead along with the ending fight scene in the storm. While some fight scenes, like that of the detectives beating up the man at the stationed seemed pointless to me, it added to the fun of the film making it a great experience.

  • Luchinni Mandayo

    Lee Myung-se’s “Nowhere to Hide” is definitely a film that can be overlooked and under-appreciated. As you said in the reading, the film being portrayed as action-packed can leave viewers feeling a bit undersold. However, if one puts that aside and focuses on the meticulous detail of Myung-se’s work, then the movie can be greatly appreciated more.
    \ Before even doing the reading, I thought that the opening scene was a perfect representation of Myung-se and his focus on movement. Right away, as we see different cuts of people, the camera is then on Sung-min, the assassin, in a vehicle. The window rolls down and we see his face, and the camera wraps around towards the front and gets a glimpse of both him and his henchmen in the car. It then does this weird holographic type slow motion/cut, where we see him put his hand on his face, look up, then put in a CD through the reflection of his glasses. From these early moments, Myung-se does a great job of setting the scene and building up tension to what eventually leads to theassassination that catapults this film.
    Myung-se’s focus on movement is also presented in his camera work, especially during fight scenes. One scene in particular really stuck out to me, which was the fight scene between Woo and Meathead. The scene was constantly grabbing my attention through subtle things such as the dancing between the clotheslines, and the camera rattling up and down as Woo jumps on top of Meathead. While the scenes with their edits may seem silly, I believe that is what truly gives this movie character.
    Also, the focus of movement isn’t just in the scenes themselves, but Myung-se even incorporates it into his characters. Detective Woo, the hot-headed, do by any means necessary, kind of guy walks the way he behaves. There’s a brutish demeanor to him, and he walks as such, reflecting his mindset and mannerisms as he fights and tortures throughout the film. In contrast, his partner Detective Kim behaves and reacts with thought, as he is his partner’s foil character , and keeps his posture and composure under check.
    Lee Myung-se’s “Nowhere to Hide” is an interesting thriller that is more focused on characters than plot. His focus on movement is not only reflected in his goofy fight scenes, but also in his character’s demeanor. The movie can be overlooked, if expecting an action packed film, but can be appreciated more if viewers observed the details Myung-se put into his work.

  • Jodino Beaubrun

    The film Nowhere to hide, is a film that confused me at first but I later caught onto what kind of story was being told. The film was defiantly one of the most violent films I have seen. It had a lot of freeze frames that made the film unique in my opinion, slowing down time in like the heat of the moment. I believe this really touches the Korean new wave, by really pushing the freedom to produce anything. What I mean is they were able to get away with such a bloody film talking about how cops probably where in Korea. Unfortunately, the low rating and the marketing made this movie seem bad, even on amazon it was a 3.5 out of 5 stars. But In reality I can see why this movie is a classic and I enjoyed it.
    The movie is unique in many ways but the thing I want to talk about the most is the, although the article does say Lee focus was not on the characters, which is true. It can be scene with the lack of dialogue in some scenes and it being replaced with songs and screaming. I still felt like attached to the characters. Like I was sad when detective Kim got killed. I also like Woo I thought he was a great character and he was really what made the movie shine. Even though, characters aren’t the main focus it still felt like they were great.
    Last thing I want to touch on is the fact that, I do see that Lee really did do his research when it came to movement. The whole film was shot at many angle and different frames. The club scene to me really resembles like soccer games. So it does this by showing like freeze frames, like picture after picture after picture. Also the lights shining then turning off showing off characters. It reminds me of soccer because some freeze frames cut to fans then the player scoring, then back to the player. It shows the reaction of such a scene and Lee does a good job showing this as well. Showing a scene then showing the outcome of what happens.

  • Taha Doha

    Nowhere to hide was a very interesting movie. I was confused while watching it and didn’t really know what to think. A lot of the action scenes made me feel like I was watching anime. Before I watch the movies in class, I often look up their ratings on iMBd or rotten tomatoes. I saw that iMBd gave it a 6.5/10 and rotten tomatoes gave it a 44 percent rating. After seeing this, I was very confused on why this movie was assigned. The past movies we watched were legendary and globally praised, but this one doesn’t seem to leave it’s mark. After reading the blog posted on White City Cinema, I realize that the art of this movie was movement.
    You would think that this a thriller or action movie, but in reality the point of the movie was to show the significance of movement. According to the reading, Lee studied how animals move and closely analyzed world cup soccer matches and noticed their movements. He used the art of movement and made this movie. This movie didn’t seem to care too much about the storyline, and didn’t seem to have a deep message/meaning either. It seems like it wants us to sit back and enjoy the action and how unique it is. The distinctive action scenes are what makes this movie stand out.
    Something I noticed is how in many of the shots, they would show a character running for an extended period of time in which the camera would actually follow the character running every second. I’m used to seeing scenes cut when someone is running or fighting, and was curious on why the directors emphasized that so much.
    The colors were also quite distinct, as it felt videogame-like. The colors were very bright and in night scenes, you would see an array of different colors along with the action. The bright colors mixed with night life gave a unique vibe, which I don’t experience often.

  • jmartyniouk

    Watching Nowhere To Hide to me was an energetic experience. This movie is literally a fast paced adrenaline rush in any sense of the world. Nowhere To Hide starts with a bang and relentlessly never lets go throughout the entire runtime and this movie is one crazy, insane wild ride. Seeing the directors style of extreme closeups, freeze frames, creative transitions and a phenomenal soundtrack blew my mind. Here’s a quote from Michael Smith’s article to further prove that this movie was masterfully crafted.
    “The scene begins with a montage of shots depicting people milling about on Inchon’s “40 Steps,” a large public staircase outside of a shopping mall. Lee employs freeze-frames at the scene’s beginning to draw viewer attention to specific details in the location (the saturated yellow of the autumn leaves on the ground and an overhead shot of a boy covering his head with a newspaper indicate the time of year and the weather) while a title informs viewers of the exact time of day (“12:10:58 P.M.”). A car pulls up to the location and the passenger-side window rolls down to reveal a sinister-looking character within: Sung-min (Ahn Sung-kee), the assassin, is wearing a trench-coat and sunglasses and smoking a cigarette while “casing” the location. Through the reflection of his glasses we see him insert a CD into the car stereo. The soft-psychedelic pop of the Bee-Gees’ “Holiday” (which, in case you didn’t know, is their greatest song ever) begins as the camera tracks alongside of the swirling leaves outside of the car.” What Smith is showing in that quote is how director Lee Myung-se makes this scene standout from other scenes in Nowhere To Hide. The location, freeze frames, the scenery with the bright leaves and stairs and the use of Bee-Gees “Holiday” make this scene pop visually and helps build intensity to the brutal murder on the stairs and shows how the director used his skills to paint a perfect picture to hook in viewers and he pays attention to every intricate detail to make this film shine bright like a diamond and I also agree that “Holiday” is The Bee-Gees best song.
    Nowhere To Hide has stellar action packed moments like the fight on the train reminded me of the train fight scene in John Wick Chapter 2. The opening fight of the detective VS a whole gang reminded me of The Bride VS The Crazy 88’s in Kill Bill Vol 1. Nowhere To Hide may not have had the best critical reception and was poorly marketed when it first released which is a shame but it had a major impact on the action movie genre and helped inspired classic modern action films and honestly that shows how timeless this movie has become and how the audience changed their perspective on this film as time went on. The director immediately makes the audience know that this film is about movement as this film is one long police chase that gets more intense throughout the films runtime. One of the best scenes of moment that caught my attention was the literal shadow fight scene on the rooftop between Detective Woo and Meathead. The way this film shows a fight between these 2 by mostly using shadows is simply marvelous and so creative. The creativitivity in this film is overflowing and this scene is one of the best scenes I have ever seen as seeing the fight with shadows is even more intense then seeing them fight hand to hand. This scene reminds me of one of the best episodes of Samurai Jack and the fact that Nowhere To Hide inspired modern action movies and classic cartoons just astounds me and it absolutely deserves all this praise and respect after all the mistreatment this movie got when it released. I’m so glad that Nowhere To Hide is finally getting the moment to shine in the spotlight that it rightfully deserved a long time ago and goes to show that Rotten Tomatoes doesn’t always judge a movie fairly and is heavily biased and overly critical. Nowhere to Hide is one of the best South Korean films I have ever seen and is one of the best films to ever flourish from the iconic South Korean cinema era.

  • Ross Vazquez

    This movie is incredible to me, as Lee’s work draws so many parallels to Seijun Suzuki’s (as you mentioned), while still creating it’s own atmosphere and impression upon the viewer. You can feel Woo’s intensity in Park Jong-Hoon’s performance, and his dialogue cements his unstoppable persona. I think Lee gave the movie the most character through all the night-time chases through alleyways in the middle of the film, and especially Woo’s fight with Meathead. You can see the Suzuki influences here for sure, with the loud, stylish music and over-the-top action (a single punch from Meathead was enough to send Woo flying). Going back to the first chase, where Woo enters the club, is where you can see some Godard influences, comparable to the minimalism of Alphaville; the bombastic club is whittled down to flashing images (ironically and intentionally) of strobe lights. The ending was equally impressive, with Woo’s mulptiple attempts to capture Sungmin ending in the final showdown in the rain, where Woo is soundly beaten in a fistfight by Sungmin, but Woo’s cunning means he finally catches (as he himself claims is the job of a detective) the bad guy.

  • Krys Jasiak

    Nowhere to Hide

    In the 1999 Film “Nowhere to Hide” directed by Lee Myung-Se is a creatively edited and shot action movie straight out of the ’90s. The film’s storyline is told through action and fight scenes with abuse of the local police investigating a murderer. With the use of editing effects and many tracking shots, I believe that Lee loves to tell the story more through the use of his camera than the actual storyline. After watching the movie and understanding the entire storyline I can conclude that none of what I watched was over the top complex nor was it anything new that I have seen. I believe that Lee is more of a cinematographer and visual artist than a writer but this is what makes Lee’s movies unique and special. This also proves that even a weak or overdone storyline can be made into an amazing piece of art just by the use of cinematography and editing.

    Focusing on the scenes that caught my attention from Lee’s filming style had to be the fight scene when the find blew off the hat. This scene caught my attention due to how the camera did a rotation between the characters getting the reaction of the actor putting his hat on and then rotating around to the second character. This rotating shot manages to get a full facial reaction of both the characters while also showing the body movement of them, hinting that we might have some tension building between the characters. The next scene that caught my attention was how Lee used the set of a house to his advantage when capturing the search scene when the police raid through the rooms. During this shot, Lee used a sliding shot with the camera transiting through every room of the room with the men breaking down the doors to them. Using these filming techniques I really enjoyed watching Lee’s work of art.

  • Damir Sinikovic

    South Korean New Wave director Lee Myung-Se’s highly stylized and experimental action/thriller Nowhere to Hide follows the plot of two homicide detectives Det. Woo and Det. Kim who have to track and identify a man who committed an assassination and is later identified as Chang Sungmin. Lee’s very unique approach of focusing on the kinetic movements of all the characters made it more of a work of art then a regular action film. The film’s action segments really focus on the characters’ movements to create the whole fight. Some movements might have been seen as sporadic and experimental, but all have a purpose in the larger scope of things. One scene in particular that reminds me of such is when Det. Woo punches then rolls over to kick Meathead suspect in the face all in one sort of fluid motion, and then later gets jumped by all six detectives. The movement of most of the characters in the scene Lee has said himself “ The story and the characters are not the main focus of my film. Movement is. Movement enters the other elements in this film to create kinetic action.” (Smith,2013).

    This doesn’t mean the characters are lifeless shells but instead are expressed by their motions. Det. Woo is seen as the bad cop as he is always the one who acts first and asks questions later. His whole persona turns the film into a comedy at times. Det. Kim is more of the good cop even though he likes his dose of action as well. He avoids trying to take anyone’s life with his firearm, but does so when confronted by a panicking barber with a razor in his hand. This changes his whole character because he is haunted by the fact. As the detectives get closer and closer to Chang in one scene on a train as chaos erupts, the detectives find themselves on a train with Chang and his employers having to duke it out. Det. Kim is stabbed on the train when him and Det. Woo were separated on the train, and the killer escaped. Eventually, The police use Chang’s girlfriend to lure him to them, and a very unique chase sequence commences between Woo and Chang, which first, begins with Woo pursuing in a car while Chang tries to escape on a bike. The tracking shot in this scene was angled very nicely and felt like it was attached to Chang’s bike. The chase eventually gets on foot where we get to see another great tracking shot of Det. Woo chases Chang in the mud and rain. When Woo finally catches up and the final battle commences the fight is even more so dramatized as uppercuts send Woo flying into the mud. The fight manages to keep its intensity while also having a theatrical feel at the same time. The whole fight Woo is getting beaten down by Change. The setting of the fight was outside in the heavy rain and mud on a train track which could have been active. What matters most is that Det. Woo doesn’t give up and keeps getting up, which manages to distract Chang long enough for other policemen to show up, ending the 72 day chase. The choreography was very well planned out as the rest of the film was. It was a joy seeing Det. Woo and Det. Kim and their gang of detectives go from scene to scene and suspect to suspect; all influenced by their unique movements. The film is mostly action but also gives an unintentional comedic tone which is loved by the audience.

    In conclusion, Though it wasn’t plot heavy we were able to see how movements can express the way a character acts and talks. The film is carried by its physical movements in a roller coaster of action and makes it seem like a theatrical performance because of the movements which all influence how the scene progresses. Det. Woo’s character is very sporadic yet effective movements made him a violent yet goofy character, and he is easily seen as a fan favorite. The same could be said for the other characters either evil or good as to me both sides of the coin are twisted. This doesn’t make the detectives hateful but instead sort of gives them a comedic appeal because of the cartoon-like violence they portray rather than just beating the suspects unconscious. The music track for this film is another great aspect of the film with a punk rock theme for almost every fighting scene. The film takes a spin on a typical cop movie and turns it into an exciting and thrilling performance with bits of comedy intertwined.

    Smith, Michael Glover. “Spotlight on South Korean Cinema: Nowhere to Hide.” White City Cinema, 4 Aug. 2013, whitecitycinema.com/2013/08/04/spotlight-on-south-korean-cinema-nowhere-to-hide/.

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