A South Korean western? And here I thought every idea had been thought of and tried before. The Good, The Bad, The Weird, as the title would suggest, was inspired by Sergio Leone’s classic spaghetti western, and if you look for the influences here, you will almost certainly find them. That, however, is where the buck stops; this is a far more mainstream and conventional Korean film than Leone’s masterpiece, aimed straight for the popular masses rather than a niche market. Ultimately, this makes the film, in layman’s ways, more entertaining than Leone’s, even if it sacrifices a little bit of timelessness in order to do so; that’s perfectly okay for me, when the result is as watchable as this film.
The titular trio refer to a bounty hunter, a hired killer, and a bumbling bandit, respectively. The Weird (the bandit) comes across a map during a train robbery orchestrated by The Bad in order to get the map for his employers. Unfortunately, the Weird is chased off by The Good, who is out for the bounty on The Weird’s head, and a three way struggle for each man’s respective goals ensues. All the while, several armies march towards Manchuria, the setting of the film, perpetrated by the existence of the map, which while to the trio is a mere treasure map, to the armies is an important key in the struggle for Korean independence, though exactly why it is is never made clear. This film does owe a lot to The Good, the Bad, & the Ugly; it’s structured in much the same way, and even ends with a classic Mexican standoff of its own, which is nearly as entertaining as Leone’s. It’s filmed extremely well, with a lot of great action sequences that have a surprisingly well done shakycam effect to them; it’s not overly disorienting, but rather it comes across almost like an earthquake is rattling the frame of the screen, and it was quite stylistic and enjoyable. The script is damn fine too; the dialogue was alright, but the pacing and the delivery of the action that takes place is near spot on. There’s an extended action sequence in the second half, where the armies, The Good, and The Bad all converge on The Weird as he flees across the desert in his moped. It is absolutely stellar, exciting in all the right ways, and constantly changing to offer a new experience to keep the interest at its peak.
There was a whole lot of good, very little bad, and just a touch of weird to this one. It is nonstop entertainment from beginning to end, and for that, I couldn’t have enjoyed it more. Really, the only real foible I had with the film was that the shakycam sometimes dived down into the realm of unintelligible cinematography that makes me hate shakycam so, but the benefits gained from using the format outweighed the occasional detractions. Honestly, unless you’re a complete subtitle snob, in which case nothing I say will change your mind, I can’t really come up with a good reason not to watch this one. It’s the perfect length for the story told, the acting from the titular trio is excellent, and the film is just flat out fun to watch from beginning to end. Yeah, this is definitely one to catch, and even to go out of your way to see if you can.
Arbitrary Rating: 9/10