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Korean film-Asian western by Kim Jee-Woon (director of A Tale of Two Sisters)

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Korean Cowboys? Awesome.

  • Dec 11, 2010
Rating:
+3
*** out of ****

There are times while watching films that I can live with killing a few brain cells, as long as the movie I am watching isn't particularly insulting to my intelligence. I say this because no matter how ridiculous it sounds, that is very much possible. There have been films which I enjoyed watching for nothing more than some damn good entertainment, and "The Good, the Bad, and the Weird" is most definitely one of those films. I can't call it art, but I can call it entertainment. There's something very charming about this Sergio Leon-inspired Korean Western that rests beneath its own restlessness. I think it's the wild, non-stop actiony feel of "The Good, the Bad, and the Weird" that really helps it to succeed. It promises non-stop action, and it delivers just that. Perhaps it doesn't go above and beyond with creativity and flamboyant craziness, but this is a quirky enough movie for me. Don't let the title fool you; this is not a direct copy of Sergio Leon's "The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly". It is merely a play on words, nothing more. Sure, there's definitely some obvious inspiration underneath "The Good, the Bad, and the Weird's" zany exterior, but it's not a remake. Perhaps now you will consider digging through the muck to get your hands on it. Released originally in 2008, this Korean Western finally released state-side in 2010. Therefore, I think it's fair to say that it's one of the releases of such a year. Therefore, I am entitled to say that "The Good, the Bad, and the Weird" is one of the most entertaining cinematic experiences to be had this year. It's not one of the best films overall, but for the most part it remains as entertaining as it thinks it is. However, when the characters aren't shooting things and stuff isn't getting blown up, "The Good, the Bad, and the Weird" doesn't have much more in its arsenal. The story can't be called "good", although since it flows nicely with the large amounts of carnage and mayhem, it can't be called "bad" either. The point is that it's not complex enough to interest you when the action is scarce. However, these moments are rare and seldom prolonged. Thankfully, director Ji-woon Kim knows what we came to the film for; action. And he supplies us with more than a solid amount of it, although I can't help but think that it could have been more epic and awesome than it already is. But that's about it for complaints. Overall, I'd say it is much recommended.

An ancient treasure map is acquired by a goofy, but skilled man named Yoon Tae-goo. The map brings three men (one of them being Yoon) together on an epic quest to find the location of the treasure. X marks the spot, although finding the spot is easier said than done, especially when the Imperial Japanese Army gets thrown into the mix. So essentially, it's not the last hour that's about a war over the map, it's the entire film which centers on that. Surprisingly, it makes for a pretty cool film despite the narrative short-comings. The characters are more of personas rather than people, being easily forgettable but none the less easy and fun to follow in their exploits. It's nice to see an action film accept itself for what it is, as I never felt as if "The Good, the Bad, and the Weird" was anything outside of the selected genre. It never got dramatic, sentimental, or even so gory that it became gratuitously sadistic. It's an action flick, and a pretty darn good one too. I admire the handy-work on display here, as this is more of a director's piece than that of the audience. "The Good, the Bad, and the Weird" shall receive some criticism for its silliness and fast-pacing, but anyone looking for an awesome action flick should by all means look no further. This is not a film of art of particular substance, but I like the way it was handled. It was well done. Well done indeed.

The ever-so-reliant Song Kang-ho once again proves me wrong about his flamboyant goofiness, and now I'm certain that the man can make stupidity look like intellect. Song plays a resilient but silly character, which is ultimately charming although not so much deep. However, it is as I said; these characters are more of personas than people. They are not complex souls on the road to riches, they are merely three different entities who have by fate ran into each-other while searching for the same thing. Lee Byung-hun is a pretty bad-ass dude in this film, which is also pretty charming if you think about it. Just because he's a bad guy doesn't mean he's literally a "bad guy", right? Jung Woo-sung is also pretty good as "the good", since every character is labeled either "the good", "the bad", or "the weird". I do not identify whom each of these things belongs to since you've probably guessed by now. The supporting cast is pretty good, although it's nothing too special by my standards. However, the main performers do well at portraying personas. And it takes a skilled man to do that, believe it or not. Korean Cinema simply has talent that Hollywood doesn't, and it's full of some pretty weird, but admirable men.

At heart, "The Good, the Bad, and the Weird" is a true, blue action film. It aims to be nothing more than that, and in doing so it is a success. It's not one of the best genre films out there, but it's one of the better actioners of 2010. Most people will probably have fun with it one way or another. The action is essentially non-stop, although when it's not happening, the film can tend to feel a bit detached. The dialogue isn't epic enough to make the movie worthwhile outside of the consistent action, although the film is made with enough solid craft to make me believe that it is indeed, a pretty good movie. It is well directed; Kim Ji-woon knows just what he's making. He focuses primarily on action and makes a film that indeed has a lot of the former. His film entertains, even if it is not his best work yet. The cinematography for the action sequences is wonderful and REALLY helps a lot when it comes to both intensity and fun. The music is also pretty damn good, each tune fitting the mood in some appropriate way. Overall, it feels like the mostly kick-ass action film that it is, and it pays no disrespect to the genre or the art of filmmaking. The film itself should not be considered art, although it is still a film. How could it be art? It's simply entertainment. And I'm fine with that. If you're open to Korean films, then I'd recommend this film for sure. It's promising, and it delivers on (most of) its promises. You won't regret that you saw it.

While not without its flaws, I feel content after watching "The Good, the Bad, and the Weird". It's not an extraordinary feat, but then again it doesn't need to be. It's still a good film. Perhaps when I said before that it's good to kill a few brain-cells with, I was being slightly ignorant. I said it because "The Good, the Bad, and the Weird" does not require much thinking, but then again it should not be labeled "dumb". Even though it is joyously silly, there is talent involved. This is a film made by a filmmaker; a man who knows his audience well and was never one for pretending. "The Good, the Bad, and the Weird" seems to know that it's nothing amazing, and it exists for entertainment when there is none. It's one of the more entertaining actioners of the year, and that is why I would definitely recommend it. There's a certain charm I personally see in Korean films, and Korean Westerns are even better. After all, who doesn't love Korean Cowboys? Only the heartless don't. And apparently, there are not enough heartless people to go around. But I won't be one of them. Not this time. This time I'm on the side of the people with "hearts". I'm confident that I like this film for what it is; and it is confident of what IT is. That's a pretty seldom seen sort of thing, if you ask me.

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December 12, 2010
Yes indeed this was a fun one
December 12, 2010
It's cool that you liked it too.
 
December 11, 2010
oohhh yeah!! Korean cowboys are awesome! excellent review! I am featuring this review in both communities!!
December 11, 2010
AWESOME!!
 
1
More The Good The Bad The Weird reviews
review by . April 15, 2012
posted in ASIANatomy
ONE OF MY FAVORITE FLICKS
         TRAILER         THE GOOD THE BAD THE WEIRD      I have to say that this may be one of my favorite movies in recent memory. I have had this film since its release and first heard about it from Young William of Woopak the Great. I have been meaning to write this review since the film's release but I could never do the movie justice. Now if you have yet to see this movie I highly recommend it. Some people …
Quick Tip by . April 15, 2012
posted in ASIANatomy
Caption
Everyone that I have shown this to have loved the flick. In fact people that I convinced to watch this on Netflix ending up liking it so much they went out to buy it. The DVD/Blu-Ray comes with all kinds of great special features so I really do recommend buying this. So with all that said I say check this flick out right now, you may not love it like I do but I am sure you will like it.
review by . March 15, 2009
posted in ASIANatomy
3-disc Korean dvd
      Small wonder that after director Kim Jee-Woon's magnificent "A Tale of Two Sisters" and the terrific "A Bittersweet Life" that his next film would be so eagerly anticipated. "The Good, The Bad, The Weird" has won numerous awards in Asia, it is South Korea's highest grossing film in 2008 and has been selected for the Cannes film festival. I've said before that an Asian western isn't exactly an original concept; there was a video …
About the reviewer
Ryan J. Marshall ()
Ranked #16
It's very likely that the only kind of reviews I'll ever post here are movie reviews. I'm very passionate about film; and at this point, it pretty much controls my life. Film gives us a purpose; … more
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This film is the highest grossing film in South Korea in 2008. Won 8 Korean film awards and has been selected in the Cannes film festival. It is also scheduled for an early U.S. release by CJ Entertainment. 


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