Director: Kim Ji-woon
Writer: Kim Ji-woon, Kim Min-suk
Producer: Kim Ji-woon, Choi Jae-won
Cast: Song Kang-ho, Lee Byung-hun, Jung Woo-sung, Yoon Je-moon as Byeong-choon, Ryoo Seung-soo as Man-gil, Song Yeong-chang, Son Byeong-ho Oh Dal-su
Running Time: 120 min.
By Jeff Bona
A psychotic hitman, Park Chang-i, aka The Bad (Lee Byung-hun), is hired to steal a treasure map from Kanemaru, a Japanese official traveling by train. However, Yoon Tae-goo, aka The Weird (Song Kang-ho), a thief, gets to Kanemaru first, with the intention of robbing him for his money, but he ultimately ends up with the map – unaware of its value. Meanwhile, a bounty, Park Do-won, aka The Good (Jung Woo-sung), plots to hit two birds with one stone by intercepting Park Chang-i’s plans, thus collecting money for his capture and retrieving the map for the Korean Independence Army.
Three men. One map. One treasure. The last man standing wins.
Though not as experimental as Wisit Sasanatieng’s Tears of the Black Tiger, and not as surreal as Takashi Miike’s Sukiyaki Western Django – Kim Ji Woon’s The Good, The bad, The Weird (note: there is no “and” in the title) is another creative entry in this on-going trend of Western Genre films by Asian filmmakers.
Although Kim Jee-Woon made a name for himself with The Foul King and A Tale of Two Sisters, he’s mostly known for his mobster film, A Bittersweet Life. Those familiar with A Bittersweet Life, who are expecting the same kind of visionary violence, will be pleased.
Above anything this film is trying to showcase – and believe me, the whole movie is top quality – the action is what shines the most; it’s crisp, fast, inventive and brutal. A lot of it filmed with beautiful scope in mind, such as the horses running through gritty explosions; and even Road Warrior-style vehicle chases, which would make George Miller proud.
Jung Woo-sung (Musa) has a tame role as The Good, so he doesn’t really get a chance to show off an off-the-wall performance. Lee Byung-hun (A Bittersweet Life), who plays The Bad, gets to have a lot more fun as a scarfaced killer. But it’s Song Kang-ho (Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance), The Weird, who steals the show as the goofy, but very skilled gunslinger/thief, who has no idea what he’s gotten himself into when he put his hands on that map. Obviously, much of the film’s comedy revolves around his role as well.
Overall, The Good, The Bad, The Weird isn’t Kim Jee-Woon’s best film. It’s his best looking, no doubt. It’s definitely entertaining, amusing as hell, and the pacing is excellent. But it’s not the step-above A Bittersweet Life that I was hoping it would be, but then again, that’s one flick that’s hard to beat.
Jeff Bona‘s Rating: 8/10