|The Plot: Three men in Manchuria are about to embark on an epic journey. First is The Good, Park Do-won (Jung Woo-sung) a traveling bounty hunter from Korea who is after the price laid on the head of on The Weird, Yoon Tae-goo (Song Kang-ho) a chubby wandering psychopath who carries two guns and steals as much as he can. Yoon runs into his fortune when robbing a train that holds a map to a buried treasure that everyone is looking for, including The Bad: Park Chang-yi (Lee Byung-hun, soon to be Storm Shadow in the GI Joe movie!), a homicidal gunslinger with a vendetta against the world. These three men have a great treasure that bonds them, but only one of them will walk away the victor of this quest. The question is, who will it be? The Good, The Bad or The Weird.|
The Review: Have you seen the trailer for The Good The Bad The Weird? Well if you haven’t, I’ll just summarize it up for you right here: pure hyperbolic mayhem captured on roughly ninety seconds. I first saw one of these trailers online some time around a year or so ago and immediately had my interest spiked. Ever since then it has been at the top of my “most wanted Asian films” list. Although at this point it isn’t the first ever Western made in the confines of the Asian film market – but that doesn’t stop it from delivering an incredibly new and original experience. From the opening credits all the way through the two hour length of the film, The Weird (have to shorten that title down some for the purposes of this review!) hooks the audience and never lets go. Directer Kim Ji-woon, who is best known as the director of the ever so popular A Tale of Two Sisters (which surprisingly I wasn’t really a big fan of), really shocked me with the amount of stylistic vision he packs into the film. Dolly shots, tracking shots, wide sweeping crane shots, long takes, intricate stunts played out in one take – even though this is most assuredly an action adventure spectacular, the amount of visionary brilliance on display is simply astounding.
The Weird, which has surprisingly only received a limited amount of hype from the community so far, feels like something that us genre geeks sit around dreaming about. We all want those amazing films that transcend genres, but aren’t so simple and formulaic to the point of stealing from the films that they seek to emulate. At it’s base, I suppose the best way to think about The Weird is to say imagine the Spaghetti Western genre (mostly the works of Sergio Leone) crossed with the wild gunfire and action of John Woo and mixed with highly intriguing characters who the audience actually grows fond of throughout the course of the film. Not only that though, it also combines all of the best visual moments from these filmmakers and crafts an incredibly “cool” film around a very well written and historically conscious (although not “correct” mind you) script. Almost too good to be true? Well, it isn’t. Although easy to dismiss as simply a juvenile wet dream and blase genre film fare – if you have a set of testicles hanging between your legs or you’re a genre film fan and generally love “cool” flicks that don’t come off as trying too hard, you simply HAVE to love this flick. If you don’t, I make no apologies for my hyping of it, it’s rare that I find myself full of excitement over cinema these days and when that time comes I like to enjoy it.
The name for the film really dictates just what you should expect from The Weird. Although the stories when compared are vastly different, there’s still a lot of influence taken from Sergio Leone’s magnum opus The Good, The Bad and The Ugly. We have three characters, each with their own counterpart between both films (there’s a Tuco-like character, Blondie-like character and Angel Eyes-like character in The Weird) but over the course of the film we find that some characters aren’t all that they appear to be. Generally the archs crafted for the characters are all very well crafted and far beyond what one would expect from a film full of “superhero” type characters who when the time comes for action are almost always infallible. These sort of characters can be hit or miss with audiences, truthfully I often find myself drawn to the “superhero” pastiche. Although not perfect men by any stretch of the imagination, they are of course gifted with nearly godlike abilities when it comes to using their firearms. There is literally a scene where our “Good” character rides into the midst of a blazing gun battle where it appears that half of the Japanese army are against him – but of course, none of the Japanese are capable of .putting a bullet in our hero’s back. However, with just his rifle he is able to severely limit their numbers and seemingly never miss with one bullet. It’s all hard to believe, but then again for fans of John Woo this sort of outlandish behavior should be nothing new. Sometimes realism can be overrated, especially when the grace and acrobatics create such visual poetry as in this film.
What can I say? I truly loved this film! I’ve been on a streak of watching very interesting films and some that I did feel were very close to being classics. However, as of recent there have been very few that I have felt so passionate about as this one. The action is so very over the top, the visuals are so dynamic and beautiful… it carries with it everything I love about the art of entertainment within cinema. I have read from others who didn’t feel the raging passion that I do, but I know that this film will find its audience and they will be just as enthusiastic for it as I am. I give it my highest honors, a fish with a monocle. It ain’t much but it’s the best I can give!