Starring: Song Kang-ho, Lee Byung-hun and Jung Woo-sung.
Running Time: 139 minutes
Genre: Action adventure
Kim Ji-woon is quickly becoming one of my favourite directors. He reinforces this notion with The Good, the Bad, the Weird, a film so purely entertaining, enjoyable and uniquely Korean (perhaps a reason it has yet to be remade by Hollywood) that it will have you laughing at the often hilarious humourous parts and in awe at some fantastic set-pieces that put those US$150 million dollar American blockbusters to absolute shame (this film only cost US$10 million). To put it simply, this film is a fun thrill ride.
The Good (Woo-sung), a bounty hunter, The Bad (the ever excellent Byung-hun), a bandit and the Weird (Kang-ho), a mysterious thief become embroiled in an adventure to seek out a treasure map that may have the payday of their lives on it. As simple a premise as it is, Ji-woon keeps things moving at a tremendous pace, with the opening train robbery that sets the story up a great sample of the visual flair and thrilling moments of action and humour that the following two hours (which fly) will contain. While my knowledge of Korean/Chinese/Japanese relations in the 1930s is far from good, the film sets up the conflicted Manchuria area as a great setting for the film, with plenty of shady characters and oddballs thrown into the mix. The Ghost Market in particular stands out as a wonderfully designed set which main objective is no doubt to be eventually destroyed, the design is consitently wonderful throughout, and scenes of violence (which are surprisingly strong given the light overall tone of the film) pack a punch. In every film I've seen him in, Lee Byung-hun has been terrific and again here he is the top man, with a devilish charm and obviously cherishing the rare villain role.
The Good, the Bad, the Weird is a film that would never get made in America, purely because of it's quirky and balls out approach to the fun on display. This is a good thing, as the more people that will hopefully see this gem are in for a treat and not a toned down rehash. To summarize simply, The Good, the Bad, the Weird is one of the most enjoyable pure entertainment films I've ever had the pleasure of watching. It never takes itself too seriously, but yet keeps tone pitch perfect for the action/humourous elements to compliment each other perfectly. So much fun.