Thursday, September 11, 2008

The Good, The Bad, The Weird

Kim Ji-woon | 2008 | 139 min | South Korea

In the ten years since making his amazing debut film, The Quiet Family (later remade by Takashi Miike as The Happiness of the Katakuris), Kim Ji-woon has given us the wrestling comedy, The Foul King and the K-Horror sensation, A Tale of Two Sisters, among other films (which I must admit to not having seen yet). Now he's made what is Korea's most expensive production to date. Not only that, but with that money, he's made a western. Far from the most popular genre of film at the moment, Ji-woon injects it with so much excess of style, action, and comedy that it's both a western for western-lovers and for your little sister who probably thinks Clint Eastwood looks like a creepy creep (which to be fair, he probably is).

Set in Manchria during the Japanese occupation, three Koreans (the titular Good, Bad, and Weird) are all involved in a train robbery. The Weird is on-board to rob its VIP passenger without knowing that he has an extremely valuable treasure map with him. The Bad and his gang stop the train with the sole intention of stealing said valuable map. The Good is there to foil The Bad's robbery. Once off the train, the map becomes sought after by not just the film's three leads, but also by the Japanese military and a good portion of the criminal underworld. Few know what the treasure is but figure that if so many people want it, it must be worth rising their lives and taking those of others.

Filled with ridiculously fun set piece after ridiculously fun set piece, great acting from its leads, and a script that keeps putting playful roadblocks in-front of its characters; the moments when I didn't have a smile on my face while watching The Good, The Bad, The Weird were rare. There's a bit of fat in some of the second half's action scenes, but it's a western, and that's how they're supposed to be. I'm not sure if I should use a steak metaphor or not...

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