Or to use the original Korean
title, Injong sajong polkot opta
Directed by Myung Se-Lee, it was released in South Korea in 1999, and after a limited release in cinemas overseas, is now available on video and DVD in both the UK and the US.
Nowhere to Hide is being marketed as the Korean answer to Hard Boiled, but the similarites are only slight in that both are cop films made in the far east.
The film is set in Inchon in South Korea. The plot of the film is simple, almost formulaic. A murder is committed in the opening reel, and the cops search for the killer. We are shown the comradeship of the cops, and the aggressive, underhand methods they use to hunt their man. An old lover of the killer provides the link to the wanted man.
So far so predictable. But what elevates this mvie above the mundane are the visuals that accompany the action. Opening up in monochrome but with occasional flashes of colour, the first action scene is a disorientating strobelike affair. We revert to colour for the rest of the film, but there are still enough imaginative uses of montage, slow motion and wipes.
Additionally, there are Tarantino-esque homages to past movie greats throughout the film. The opening stabbing on the 40 steps carries an obvious homage to Battleship Potemkin, and there are also nods to films such as Taxi Driver, A Clockwork Orange and Eat Drink Man Woman. Mention must also be made of the great use of Sunrise by The Bee Gees on the soundtrack.
Joong Hoon Park is excellent as the obsessive Dectective Woo, a cross between Harry Callahan and Little Bill Daggett. Woo retains enough charisma however to remain sympathetic even when he is beating up suspects. There are plenty of fight scenes in the film but no martial arts, the fighting is more realsitically street, and unlike the never knowingly underarmed Chow yun Fat, the only gun that Woo fires is a mace gun. The final confrontation between Woo and his prey, the elusive Sungmin, played by Sung Kee Ahn, is shot in drenching rain straight out of a Kurosawa picture, and strips any glamour away from crime fighting and violence.
As is common with many subtitled films, the dialogue perhaps loses some nuance in the translation, but they is still enough humour to liven up the slower moving middle section of the film and this should not detract too heavily from the non Koreans ability to follow the story. If you are bored of identikit Hollywood action films, then try looking for this at your video store (if they have it).