You may or may not recall a couple weeks ago we were having a South Korean film fest (in a sense). One of the films we watched but I had yet to recommend was Kim Jee-woon’s “kimchee western”* The Good the Bad the Weird (2008)—a film inspired by Sergio Leone’s 1966 spaghetti western The Good the Bad and the Ugly.
Kim Jee-woon’s film is set in desert of 1930s Manchuria. A treasure map boards a train and The Bad (Lee Byung-hun)–bandit/hitman–is hired to steal it, but The Weird (Song Kang-ho)–a thief–gets to it first, as it happened to be with the rest of the loot. The Good Woo-sung Jung )–a bounty hunter–is on the same train and when the train is derailed by The Bad he goes into action. He wants to use The Weird (whose bounty is worth a used piano) as bait to catch The Bad (whose worth much much more). Add the fact that the Chinese bandits and the Japanese Army are after to map, too–an epic manhunt ensues.
The Good the Bad the Weird is a pleasure to watch. An immersive experience, the costuming and the sets are magnificent, the film well cast, with excellent cinematography and editing to capture the it all and keep the momentum going.
One of the really striking aspects to this film are the action sequences. The chases and shoot-outs take on epic proportions–and lengths. Another is the ending. Besides the bizarre game proposed by The Good, the open (?) ending allows for speculation, and a necessary re-view of whether the film is more than just a story about a comedic and action-packed treasure hunt.
asides: The Bad had me thinking Brad Pitt the whole time. The Good (if he didn’t have a double) can really ride a horse! The Weird is very well played.
The Good the Bad the Weird (2008)
Directed by Kim Jee-woon
Produced by Kim Jee-woon, Choi Jae-won
Written by Kim Jee-woon, Kim Min-suk : Editing, Nam Na-yeong
Starring: Song Kang-ho, Lee Byung-hun, Jung Woo-sung
Music by Dalparan, Jang Yeong-gyu : Cinematography, Lee Mo-gae
Country: South Korea. Viewed w/ sub-titles.
released in the U.S. in 2010.
139 running minutes.
Rated R for nonstop violence and some drug use.
Mike Hale,’s NY Times Review