Duelist (Lee Myung-se) 28 – I haven’t seen Nowhere to Run, the film that made Lee’s reputation in the States, but now I’m dying to check it out just to see what the fuck happened. A frenzy of garish, misapplied style, this period action film seems the work of a stylist that simply piles on style without much regard for meaning. A perfect example comes on early in the film when a chase through a marketplace causes a bag of money to be dropped on the ground. Lee shoots the frantic chase for cash that follows in extreme slow motion, extending a completely subsidiary bit of the story for an eternity.
That’s not to imply that there’s much story to be found elsewhere. The plot, which concerns a hunt for counterfeiters, is about as generic as it gets. The characterizations are as erratic as Lee’s visual style, ensuring the movie has no emotional impact whatsoever. The performers use the exaggerated motions and loud voices of characters found in an American animated film, much to my chagrin. The film’s lone highlight is a fight scene shot in a space that’s half cloaked in complete darkness. The flashes of that battle that we see are more exciting that the rest of the film’s clashes combined.