The Good, The Bad, The Weird (2010) - Can't Stop the Movies
Can't Stop the Movies

The Good, The Bad, The Weird (2010)

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ANDREW LIKEIt takes a lot of guts to try and remake a film as iconic as The Good, The Bad and The Ugly.  Almost every frame of the film bears Sergio Leone's stamp, and it's long lasting effect on Hollywood films and Westerns is plenty powerful.  I wouldn't have expected something as anachronistic and fun as The Good, The Bad, The Weird to stand up to the original.  But Korean director Kim Ji-woon is more than up to the challenge and  injects it with so much style and crazy humor that it's impossible to not be drawn into this strange world.

The Good, The Bad, The Weird (TG,TB,TW) has had kind of a rough time getting a foothold in America.  It's been in other countries for almost two years now and has only played at two different film festivals along with an incredibly limited release in New York, NY this year.  There might have been some trepidation in releasing this film as the barely similar Japanese western Sukiyaki Western Django fought for limited release here as well.  However, that film is an epileptic mess with occasional spots of fun that carried the direct endorsement of Quentin Tarantino (further proving he has lost all sense of cinematic taste).  This is the Western that will fill a craving you didn't even know you had.

TG,TB,TW follows the rough outline of Leone's original.  A quiet bounty hunter named Park Do-won (The Good - Woo-sung Jung)  is on the trail of the infamous Park Chang-yi (The Bad - Byung-hun Lee) .  The Bad is tracking down a map that points to a treasure in the Manchurian desert.  They happen to cross paths with Yoon Tae-goo (The Weird - Kang-ho Song), who robs the train carrying the map The Bad is looking for and goes hunting for the treasure himself.

A little familiar, but this peace won't last long.

Ji-woon keeps things moving briskly and grabs our attention early on with the fairly spectacular train robbery that frames the rest of the film.  There's a classicist approach to his film style that is quite welcome.  He frequently emphasizes the wide open expanse of the desert and seems to be in love with the idea of the lone gunman standing for himself.  But his affection for that durable stereotype does not get in the way of his own creation.

The Weird is ridiculously entertaining with his odd behavior and fighting style.  He's just trying to find his own slice of the riches so that he can retire, but doesn't quite have the skills to go about it.  It doesn't help that he stands out against everything in his aviator goggles and thermal jacket.  But what he lacks in pure force he makes up for with invention.  During one particularly tough spot in a shanty town he is pinned down by the gang that wants the map.  Thinking quickly, he puts on a nearby brass diving helmet so that he can try and get away.  It's nice to see that pure violence doesn't always solve these disputes.

But hey, it's a Western and a damn stylish one at that.  I was never bored for a second as The Weird's inventiveness in combat extends out to Ji-woon's tricks behind the camera.  He keeps the CGI to a minimum and each shoot out is a sterling example of tension and originality.  My favorite fight scene involved The Weird trying to get away from The Bad as The Good is soaring above the shantytown from a rope gunning folks down like a pushed to the edge Spider-Man.

What the long awaited Cousteau/Eastwood buddy comedy would have looked like.

Then there's the design of this wonderfully anachronistic world.  There are some signs that point to the exact year that this takes place, but the universe is wholly it's own while maintaining identifiable traits.  The streets and deserts are filled with dusty motorcycles alongside elephants lugging around statues.  All the while the score pays tribute to Morricone while producing a wonderful tunes that sound like electric pan flute ambient pop.  It's all original and familiar at the same time, not an easy thing to pull off.

This film made me squeal with delight at times because of all the risks Ji-woon and company took.  Take the time to reward their courage if you can.  In this year of crappy remakes, it's almost impossible to find something this sublime.

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The Good, The Bad, The Weird (2010)

Directed by Ji-woon Kim.
Written by Ji-woon Kim and Min-suk Kim.
Starring Woo-sung Jung, Byung-hun Lee and Kang-ho Song

Posted by Andrew

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