I find it strange that the Eastern cultures somehow are able to give us the best Western films in the last few years. First we had the over the top combination of Spaghetti Western and Samurai film "Sukiyaki Western Django" and now we have "The Good The Bad The Weird". Although not near as much Eastern influenced in its style, this Korean Western is tongue in cheek enough to make its odd combination of Western cliches, humor, and modern action sequences mix just right to give us a hell of a ride through an old time where dusters were common and the blood shed from six shooters was plenty.
When an odd duck train robber, The Weird, (Kang-Ho Song) finds a highly wanted treasure map on a train heist he finds himself in the middle of a chase to find this mysterious lost treasure. Caught between the hunt of a good bounty hunter, The Good, (Woo-Sung Jung) looking for a reward for his head and that of a sharp shooting and evil gun for hire, The Bad, (Byung-Hun Lee) whose after the map, he has to run for his life and find the treasure as soon as possible. When the three men find themselves caught in the crossfire of gangs, their own pasts, and the Japanese army its a gun fight to the finish that will settle the score and see who gets the treasure once and for all.
What really makes "The Good The Bad The Weird" such a thrilling fun filled ride into the wild west of the east is its affinity for using every Western cliche in the book. Whether its the opening train heist, the shanty town showdowns in the rain, the horse chases loaded with stunts, and the general endless bullets that fly about from its many, many action sequences, this film contains its all. It has even has a duel at the end between the three men. If you love your Western's for these things, then this is a must watch film.
This amazing amount of overused western moments is given new life though through its amazing and stylistic directing. Although the performances are great (at this point its hard to argue with Kang-Ho Song and his awesome choices of films including "Thirst" and "The Host"), its this modern and slick style of presenting its rather overused story and plot elements that makes this movie stand out. The long and winding camera shots fulled with stunts and the fearless approach to having characters stare down the camera for their monologues makes for a fun and impressive ride through this land of outlaws. Ji Woon-Kim has one me over again with a whole new genre. *Note: He also directed the fantastic gang film "A Bittersweet Life" and the psychologically disturbing Horror film "A Tale Of Two Sisters" both of which I recommend.
Although the plot sometimes got a little too off balance with its odd moments, like the random drug scene in the brothel, this film has a pacing that is to die for. Its a fun ride with its decidedly slick attack on the Western genre and a definite must for fans of the genre or any of the parties involved in its making (director especially). Highly recommended for us genre film fans out there.
BONUS PRAISE: The score for the film is so odd in its use of keyboards, synths, and guitars to give us your 'classic' Western sound that I'm not sure whether to question the sanity of the idea or praise it for its ballsy move. As a Bond villain once said though, the difference between insanity and genius is measured by success. I consider this score a success.
Written By Matt Reifschneider