Friday, April 10, 2009

The Good, the Bad, the Weird

This "remake" of Sergio Leone's The Good, the Bad and the Ugly is the most expansive film ever produced in South Korea so far and it's unbelievable that it was presented at the Cannes International Film Festival. In fact, don't even try to figure out if there is a story in this entertainment-oriented film! I haven't seen Leone's film, but from I what conclude, one should forget how this film is a rehash and enjoy the action scenes, which are effectively directed. Nothing less. Nothing more. Besides, the last time I heard about South Korea making the "most expansive film" in its history was when I saw the fairly good film Taegukgi: The Brotherhood of War. Sorry, South Korea, but better luck next time when one movie studio of yours will decide to push the budget envelope further!


The story takes place in the Manchuria of the 1930s when it was occupied by Japan and follows three Korean outlaws. Park Do-won, Park Chang-yi and Yoon Tae-goo, who are respectively the good, the bad and the weird, are all looking for a map that apparently leads to a treasure. That map is in the hands of the Japanese Imperial Bank's chairman and the only way to get it is to do a train robbery. While Chang-yi and Do-won are busy at shooting each other, Tae-goo manages to escape from the train with the map. While these three characters are running after the map, they also realize that they have to deal with some bandits and the Japanese army who have their interests.

This is the premise that we're introduced to at the beginning. Besides, when I heard about the film for the first time, I thought that it looks okay although I was sceptical about the possibility to explicitly apply in an Asian film most of the norms in the western handbook. Unfortunately, this film is nothing but a flash in the pan. The first flaw that one will notice is the abundance of bad guys, so to speak. In fact, I had the feeling that the bandits from the deserts were only gun fodders (the same thing can be said about the Japanese army) that couldn't take the time to expose their interest for the map.

Speaking about the script, as the story advances, The Good, the Bad, the Weird loses its focus, that is the search for the treasure. It seems that the reason for throwing in a plot in which the characters are looking for a treasure is only to pile up as much action scenes as possible. Don't get me wrong: I certainly like to watch action films, especially when these scenes last for a long period. However, I just don't like films that have a simplistic and thin plot in which the developed ideas (finding the treasure and getting a revenge) barely have any links with each other. With that said, the scriptwriters could have opted to either make a story about a treasure hunt or just about revenge.

Finally, despite having literally no plot, The Good, the Bad, the Weird is a proof that it doesn't take that much to be an entertaining (if not mindless) film. Given that the reception of this film was mixed in South Korea, let it be said that hopefully, the actors seem to have a lot fun performing the gunfight sequences and play their character.

Rating: 2/5



Origin:South Korea (2008)
Length:139 minutes
Genre:Western
Screenplay:Kim Jee-woon and Kim Min-suk
Director:Kim Jee-woon
Starring:Jung Woo-sung, Lee Byung-hun, Song Kang-ho and Oh Dal-su


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