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THE GOOD THE BAD AND THE WEIRD, 2008
Movie Reviews!

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THE GOOD THE BAD AND THE WEIRD MOVIETHE GOOD THE BAD AND THE WEIRD, 2008
Movie Reviews

Directed by Ji-woon Kim

Cast: Kang-ho Song, Byung-hun Lee, Woo-sung Jung

Review by Stefan Leverton

SYNOPSIS:

The story of three Korean outlaws in 1940s Manchuria and their rivalry to possess a treasure map while being pursued by the Japanese army and Chinese bandits.

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REVIEW:

Korea, it seems, is the new Japan in terms of popular, plaudit reaping, eastern cinema. However unlike Japan, Korea is exporting a wider variety of genres than Japan did during its high water mark when J-horror took the world by storm in and around the turn of the millennium. Not that I’m saying Japan doesn’t have other facets to its arsenal of cinema but currently Korea has given us, not only a spate of creepy atmospheric chillers, but now have monster movies (Host), war epics (Brotherhood of War) and the genre transcending Oldboy that have all received appreciation from critics and crowds alike.

Korean movies of late have been highly stylish, cinema literature and always entertaining. Here with The Good, The Bad and the Weird, in one swoop can tick off comedy and western as part of their oeuvre. Director Ji-woon Kim seems to typify this current trend moving effortlessly between genres having first come to attention (to western audiences anyway) with the sublime A Tale of Two Sisters (2003). A film that at once invoked the style and atmosphere of Japanese style horror films but added a slick style and reserved attitude in not allowing the horror to become full blown, which paradoxically intensified the creepiness the film created.

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Here though, Kim leaps to the other end of the cinema spectrum with his parody of Sergio Leone’s classic western The Good, The Bad and The Ugly. I say parody, but essentially he’s used the format o western stand-off and submitted his own setting, 1940’s Manchuria, and most notably injecting a furiously high octane style and humour to proceedings.

It all kicks off with the heist of a train. Lone, calamitous thief Yoon Tae-goo (the weird) is working his way through the carriages robbing the rich for their lucrative plunder. At the same time a gang, led by Park Chang-Yi (the bad) bring the train to a halt in search of a particular item, a treasure map (which through an insightful epilogue we know the gangs benefactor has set up in a double cross situation between them and the Japanese Army). Yoon Tae-goo inadvertently steals the map, and during his escape to be swiftly escorted away by his co-conspirator is chased down by, Park Do-won (the good) who oversees the whole event.

Yoon tae-goon eventually escapes and with his partner in crime and eventually identify the map for what it is and set out for the hidden treasure. What ensues is a simple chase film involving the three parties and the Japanese army and a marauding gang of Manchurian country-folk. There are various battles along the way and some intermittent back story linking the bad and weird especially.

This all leads to a more traditional stand-off between the three. I’ll leave the result for you to find out. I will state however that the result isn’t as important as the fun you’ll have along the way. The pace is relentless, the jokes are funny, the characters befit the traditional tropes it is parodying in the first place and the style is littered with sharp colour and constant movement. It is a thrilling thing to behold. particularly Kang-Ho Song who plays Yoon Tae-goo with such great timing that we’ve seen before form him in the hugely entertaining Host (2006). He is a great prospect for Korean cinema, at once perfectly natural on camera with great comedic timing and now being able to sustain action as well. He, like the movie itself, shall continue to entertain into the future I feel.

Review by Stefan Leverton 04/05/10

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THE GOOD THE BAD AND THE WEIRD