The Good, The Bad, The Weird (Ji-Woon Kim, 2009): South Korea

Reviewed by Joel DeVries. Viewed at the AFI Film Festival, Archlight Hollywood.

Fun, exciting and surprisingly hilarious, The Good, The Bad, The Wierd by Ji-Woon Kim provides a movie going experience worthwhile for audiences of all ages. Being one of the most enjoyable films at the AFI Film Festival, it takes you on a roller coaster ride of gun slinging and explosions, while mixing in the humor at the same time.

I viewed this film at the wonderful Arclight Theater in Hollywood and was just very impressed by the newest film from director Ji-Woon Kim, which is very different film from his last two, The Tale of Two Sisters and A Bittersweet Life. I thought that the main actors, Woo-Sung Jung (The Good), Byung-Hun Lee (The Bad), who also starred in Kims film A Bittersweet Life, and Kang-Ho Song (The Weird), really fit their characters perfectly. They captured their personalities and relationships just right through comical conversation and intense stare downs.

We are introduced to the story with The Bad, the best killer in Manchuria, being given the task to steal a treasure map from a man on a train. Being the best killer in Manchuria, he doesn’t need a ticket for the train as that would be to easy, and decides to stop it instead. Unlucky for him, The Weird had beaten him to the punch and has already gotten the map. This causes a giant train battle, where The Good (sharp shooting bounty hunter) shows up to take down his rival The Bad for his cash reward. The Weird ends up making it out of the skirmish with the map and is ready to begin his journey for the treasure. Little does he know how many obstacles he is going to run into and how many people want to stop him along the way including the Japanese army and the Chinese and Russian bandits. The film proceeds through an array of battles and confrontations with insane choreography and jolting camera work which finds its way to where every great western film should go: a good old fashioned western shootout.

This film really catches your attention with the awesome action, vibrant colors, and intense camera work. Production designer Hwa-Sung Cho does a great job on this film and especially with wardrobe; the costumes were awesome and really give you a solid idea about the personality of the characters. For example, The Weird’s green shirt, fur ear flap hat, goggles, and motorbike with sidecar definitely reveal his comical personality and unconventional outlook on life.

Being an obvious twist on of Leone’s classic western, The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly, I was pleasantly surprised by this high strung all-out bad ass version of that great film. The music was fast paced and sounded like it was inspired by certain Quentin Terrantino films like Kill Bill. It added another element of excitement and really put this film through the roof for me. This is the most fun I have had at a movie in a while and I can’t wait until it comes out on DVD or has a special screening in Santa Barbara.

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