"The Good, the Bad, and the Weird" DVD, Blu-ray Movie Review

9/03/2010 Posted by Admin

"The Good, the Bad, and the Weird"

DVD, Blu-ray Movie Review

Directed by Ji-woon Kim, written by Ji-woon Kim and Min-suk Kim, 130 Minutes, rated R

By our guest blogger, Anthony Crabtree

American cinema has seen a decline in the Western genre over the years and while a flurry of films dubbed “super Westerns”  were produced a few years back, they never achieved the popularity and praise that classic Westerns of old did. In spite of this, the Western genre and the classics it produced have never gone away--they still influence current filmmakers across the globe.

Ji-Woon Kim's “The Good, the Bad, and the Weird” is a perfect example of the genre living on in other countries. While it isn't the first “Western” film from an Asian territory ("Sukiyaki Western Django," "Tears of the Black Tiger" and "Shanghai Express" all are Asian titles influenced by the Western genre), it is one of the best because of what it aims to be.

“The Good, the Bad, and the Weird” presents a classic Western setting in Manchuria, where three Korean outlaws vie for the prize of a treasure map that leads to great booty. What type of treasure does the map lead to? The audience is left in the dark, but judging from how many people want the map, it must be a grand haul.

The plot is simple and from the start, the film makes no pretenses about what it is aiming to be. Kim opens the film with a boisterous train robbery gone wrong.  There, the hero, the villain and the anti-hero all are introduced. From that point on, the film never ceases to bring the action and laughs.

The audience is faced with a constant barrage of action scenes, all of which are loud, well-choreographed and fun to watch. With a blaring score that is heavy on the trumpet, every scene gets the blood pumping and the heart rate pounding. The way that Kim has characters swing on ropes from rooftop to rooftop, ride heroically on horseback through a sea of bullets, blow people away with shotguns and have the person on the other end of that exchange take off into the air, allows the viewer to experience something altogether different from what's popular in United States or elsewhere. It is genuinely exciting and though it does deviate from what one would expect from a western, it is refreshing.

With a title like “The Good, the Bad, and the Weird,” the film clearly has a sense of humor, which works to its advantage. Many will expect a play on the Sergio Leone film “The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly,” but this film does not come out and try to copy it. Nor does it try to copy any Western. For example, in this film the main character is not the handsome, heroic good guy Park Do-Won (Woo-sung Jung), but the off-the-wall, zany character, Yoon Tae-goo (Kang-ho Song).  He is an unsuccessful thief who rides around the desert on a motorcycle with a sidecar, wearing huge goggles and a bomber hat. Clint Eastwood he is not, but despite this fact, he is an entertaining and surprisingly nuanced character. There are layers to him that are only briefly explored, but they do help to make us care about him and understand him. The film does pay homage to “The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly” in many regards, but it takes little from Leone's films and focuses mainly on creating a unique experience.

What Kim has created is something different and spectacular.  He takes the setting, the characters and the plot of a Western film, and puts a vibrant, Korean twist to it.  

Grade: A-

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