Tuesday, March 29, 2011

REVIEW: The Good, The Bad, The Weird (Jee-woon Kim, 2008)

Not to be confused with another western with a similar name, The Good, The Bad, The Weird a Korean film set in the 1930s desert wasteland Manchuria. Even though this movie was inspired by Sergio Leone's The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, the two movies do not share themes, styles or motives even with the similar titles so please don’t consider GBW to be an adaptation. In fact, the screenplay is more original than most of what Hollywood puts out today. Hollywood should probably stop remaking movies, adapting screenplays and stealing European sitcoms and really try to pump out something interesting. [/small rant]

Park Chang-yi (the bad) and his gang

Park Chang-yi (the bad and a bandit hitman), is hired to retrieve a map from Japanese officials traveling by train. Before he can get there, Yoon Tae-goo (the weird and a thief) steals the map first. Before fighting it out against Chang-Yi’s gang, Park Do-won (the good and a bounty hunter) accidently helps Tae-goo escape. Tae-goo believes the map will lead him to a buried treasure and tries to keep the map a secret. But the Ghost Market gang overhears a conversation about the map and is now also interested in the treasure. Tae-goo now must avoid, Do-wan, who is tracking the map knowing it will lead to Chang-yi and reward money, Chang-Yi will stop at nothing to get the map for himself, the Ghost Market gang is equally persistent AND the Japanese forces want the map back in their possession.

Park Do-won (the good)

Director Jee-woon Kim does an excellent job balancing the pacing between action, comedy and downtime, with the exception of one overdrawn desert chase scene. The western spin is a nice change of pace from his darker films such as A Tale of Two Sisters and Three Extremes II. What stands out is Kim’s consistent use of Long Takes, which is particular hard to do in action movies due to a high margin of error and having to reset the entire scene if not shot perfectly.

Yoon Tae-goo (the weird) with his dueling pistols in a firefight with Park Chang-yi

Not only is The Good, The Bad, The Weird a change from Kim’s resume but also for Song Kang-ho (The Weird). More commonly known for his role in Thirst, Kang-ho shows both his action hero side mixed with his comedy persona. The use of comedy works well and is usually capped off with Kang-ho’s on screen charm. At 129 minutes the film might be a bit long but there is enough action and comedy to hold interest as well as a satisfying end to the story.

Park Do-won (the good) is approached by a bandit with a large mallet

Rating: 76/100

Side Notes:

1. Yoon Tae-goo (the weird) never reloads his dueling handguns once in the entire movie. He shoots his gun ~500 times.