In the pouring rain a hitman, Sungmin, stabs his victim to death and vanishes with a suitcase full of money. The police, led by the brash Detective Woo and his quieter, more introspective partner, Kim, are soon on Sungmin's trail and stakeout the apartment of the hitman's lover, Jugo. Woo bungles the operation and Sungmin escapes. For now...

It is hard to know what to make of this Korean action thriller. The writing and characterisation feel flat and uninspired, but one also gets the impression that writer/director Myung-Su Lee is aware of what he's doing and that much has been lost - over and above a good quarter hour of material - in this UK release.

Copy picture

On the available evidence, the cast do well with what they've been given. Particularly commendable is Park Joong-Hung, a major star in Korea, who plays his swaggering not-so-tough guy with a self-deprecating approach that reminds one of Japanese superstar Takeshi Kitano's characters.

First and foremost, Nowhere to Hide is about Lee's visuals. Taken on a shot-by-shot basis, it's certainly one of the most stylish films out there. Alas, while individual moments come together beautifully - such as the establishing murder scene, shot in black-and-white and structured as a homage to the Odessa Steps sequence of Battleship Potemkin - too often the film and its visuals feel disconnected, self-indulgent set pieces.

Lee needs to realise that less is sometimes more and the film's UK distributors need to realise that less is sometimes less.

Reviewed on: 12 Jan 2002
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Korean action thriller that almost makes up in style what it lacks in substance.
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Director: Lee Myung-se

Writer: Lee Myung-se

Starring: Park Joong-Hoon, Ahn Sung-kee, Jang Dong-Kun, Choi Ji-Woo

Year: 1999

Runtime: 97 minutes

BBFC: 15 - Age Restricted

Country: Korea


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