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Review: the Good, the Bad, the Weird

I should probably do more reviews. Honestly? I’m lazy. But here’s a quick one that got wrung out of me due to a discussion on the Circus Maximus forums.

The Good, The Bad, The Weird

My cousins just returned from Korea with the DVD of Kim Ji-Woon‘s the Good, the Bad, the Weird. It is awesome.

This is basically a western set in 1930s Manchuria, an interesting choice for a location, considering it was pretty lawless. Since this is a riff on Sergio Leone’s the Good, the Bad and the Ugly, it’s also fitting to have some armies lying around to get involved and heighten the tension. The three main characters become involved in a search for a treasure and its attendant map. Action ensues, as do many Western tropes, either straight up or with a Korean cultural chaser.

I’m not going to say this is a work of art or will be known for generations as a watershed moment in cinema, but I really did I laugh my butt off at parts and I really enjoyed the action. This is by no means anything like the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly. That movie had some dark humour, but it was–at its core–a serious movie. The Good, the Bad, the Weird is certainly an homage, but it is an action comedy with a serious movie lurking around the edges.

Also the action is shot from enough distance, and with a steadi-cam or tracks, so no wobbly “WTF is going on?” action. Yes, I’m sure that’s “just how it feels” to be in the middle of the action, but that would also entail bleeding, pain, and possible bodily harm, none of which I am fond of either.

If you have seen Korean action movies like Shwiri, I will say this is a step above that. I found a lot of the action in Shwiri to be dull, in the kind of 1980s “mow down tons of baddies with one sweep of the sub-machine gun” way. tGtBtW, on the other hand, has some honestly fun set-pieces, as well as great characters. In action, it’s closer to Nowhere to Hide, which remains my favourite Korean actioner. Unlike that movie, though, tGtBtW has a much stronger plot and story (Nowhere to Hide is mostly cool scenes stitched together with a bare minimum of story).

Also, it keeps moving, and I can’t remember any moment when I wasn’t glued to the screen.

Granted, I’ve only seen it once (over 3 nights . . . damn kids and their damn colds), so I’ll need to see it again before I form any strong opinions. Given that I am looking forward to watching it again should tell you something.

I’d give this 4.5 bandoliers full of bullets out of 5.