THE GOOD, THE BAD, THE WEIRD
BY CHRISTOPHER HASKELL
AUGUST 23, 2013
Rarely do I agree with the monikers placed on the posters or cover art of films. Phrases like “Best of the decade,” “Must watch this film several times in a row,” or “Pulp Fiction meets Hitch.” The cover art for The Good, The Bad, The Weird quoted a writer as saying the film was “the best foreign film of the year.” For once, I wholeheartedly agree. “The Good, The Bad, The Weird” IS the best foreign film of the year (thus far). With superb quality, divine action sequences, and a master-crafted cast, the film translates to a perfect cinematic masterpiece, the likes of something Clint Eastwood had probably never imagined.
Before I explain my admiration for the film, I must first mention the train sequence at the film’s start. The film’s quality is foreshadowed in one of the film’s first scenes, as the train barrels down the tracks, with “The Bad” standing in the way. Aboard is “The Weird” setting to rob the men at the front of the train. The cinematographer and effects artist makes the approaching of the train something of an art form, with billowing smoke, the camera panning and tracking along the train, and revealing the film’s fearless villain. The battle that ensues is not only a perfect introduction to the characters at play but an incredible moment in the history of cinema.
Based in South Korea, this Western demolishes any preconceptions regarding foreign films. Though clocking in a little over two hours, the weary should know that there are very few subtitles, as most of the scenes are action-filled with a short time for talk. The action sequences are superior to many coming out of Hollywood. The quality and brightness of the film make falling in love with it extremely easy.
Kim Jee-Woon borrows most of the plot from “The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly,” the three main characters, “The Good,” “The Bad,” and “The Weird,” play cat & mouse tracking down a map that leads to a treasure. Though the film’s driving force, the prize is just an excuse for the three most dangerous men in Korea to fight. Not only does the action take huge precedence in the film, but humor is also woven in very subtly and well crafted, with “The Weird” providing most of the laughs. The end proves laugh-worthy, as the showdown proves more exciting than the treasure that comes “shooting” out of the ground.
All three men not only represent their handles significantly but three very different forms of acting. Byung-hun Lee (“The Bad”) plays one of the best villains witnessed in cinema in a long time. His look and attitude match well and grounds the film as more than just a parody of the original Western. Woo-sung Jung (“The Good”) delivers a valiant effort in depicting the lone gunslingers from the Tom Ford era of Westerns, but (and no racism meant) it is hard to picture a Korean Clint Eastwood. And the star of the show, Kang-ho Song (“The Weird”), resembles a Korean Jack Black, bumbling and carving his way to victory, proving there is more to him than there appears.
“The Good, The Bad, The Weird” is the definition of epic. If pumped out by Hollywood (though changing its connotations), the film would have been in the realm of epic movies like Robin Hood or Transformers and big Westerns like “The Searchers,” “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid,” and yes, even “The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly.”
April 23, 2010
(for nonstop violence and some drug use)