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The Good, the Bad, the Weird (2008) January 5, 2009

Posted by ayasawada in Film, Rave.
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I went to the ICA on Sunday to see a preview of the ‘oriental western’ The Good, the Bad, the Weird and boy was it excellent.

It’s a Korean production, big budget and extremely well shot. The plot builds on the basic premise of Sergio Leone’s The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (of course) with three main characters mixed up in a complicated plot, this one involving a treasure map and riches in Manchuria. But it fills this out with a hint of political intrigue with it’s setting around the time of the Japanese Manchurian occupation and the clash of Korean, Chinese, Japanese and others in Asia’s equivalent of the Old West. That and lots and lots of stunning action scenes.

The first half of the movie in particular seems to be a string of actions scenes, but impressively director Kim Ji-woon doesn’t allow the characterisation to suffer. You do learn a little more about our ‘heroes’ and their way of life as the film goes on, even if they are only as three-dimensional as an action-oriented Western will allow a character to be. In terms of the action, I was blown away by two sequences in particular: the opening train robbery (particularly the one-take follow of Yoon Tae-Goo as he heads for the front car and his target) and the shoot out in Ghost Market, with the unbelievably cool Park Do-won swinging around on ropes, shotgun in hand, picking off bad guys, whilst Yoon Tae-Goo wanders around with a diver’s helmet on.

Those two sequences were exquisitely choreographed and paced, and like the rest of the movie beautifully shot. The cinematography and framing really hit home as well, as I watched the end credits accompanied by still shots of the movie. And the music was superb. Ending felt like a little bit of a cop out to me, after building to the shoot out I was hoping for, but overall I enjoyed the film immensely.

I really can’t emphasise how cool this movie is and urge any fan of action or Asian cinema to see it. It’s my first pleasant surprise of the cinematic year and I can’t believe it’s taken me this long to see a Kim Ji-woon film. I’ll be seeking out A Bittersweet Life and A Tale of Two Sisters over the next few months.

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1. The lazy round up post « Canned Memory - December 29, 2009

[…] Bittersweet Life: Not quite as good as the other two Kim Ji-Woon films I’ve seen but very stylish. Perhaps the modern gangster motif is not quite […]


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