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(Joheunnom nabbeunnom isanghannom ) (Korea)

  Publicity Stills of "The Good The Bad The Weird"
(Courtesy of Shaw)

In Korean with English and Chinese Subtitles
Director: Kim Ji Hoon
Cast: Song Kang-ho, Lee Byeong-Heon, Jeong Woo-seong, Yoon Je-moon, Ryoo Seung-soo
RunTime: 2 hrs 19 mins
Released By: Shaw & InnoForm Media
Rating: NC-16

Official Website: http://www.3nom.co.kr/index.html

Opening Day: 13 November 2008


With the Korean Peninsula under Japanese rule in 1930s, many Koreans flock to Manchuria for refuge. Some become bandits, some train robbers and yet others bounty hunters. While the Weird, a notorious train robber, is stealing from a Japanese train crossing the Manchurian plains, he discovers a treasure map. But the map is also sought after by the Bad, a merciless gang leader. Coincidentally, the Good, a bounty hunter, is on the train, and he is after the Bad. The three engage in a spectacular chase with the Japanese Army, the Korean independence fighters, and the Chinese bandits all looking to get their hands on the prized map

Movie Review:

If this movie title sounds rather familiar, it’s a nod to Sergio Leone sixties western cowboy flick "The Good, The Bad and The Ugly". Similar to it’s predecessor, the concept follows three distinctive individuals on a hunt for treasure and if it isn’t obvious enough, the title describe the respective morality of those individuals.

With three mega Korean stars Song Kang-ho, Lee Byeong-Heon & Jeong Woo-seong who are capable to frontline a movie by himself and a director Kim Ji Hoon who did the über cool "A Bittersweet Life", expectation could get unreasonable high. Especially when the trailer hits the net and it seems that these four guys had done something great to rejuvenate the western genre.

But someone once said, 'With great expectation comes great disappointment' and that quote was appropriately applicable to this homage.

The mess started with the balancing act of the three main characters. Back in "A Bittersweet Life", director Kim Ji Hoon demonstrated well in characterizing a singular protagonist but here, he wasn’t able to balance the spotlight on these three main characters well. It felt like they were 'fighting' for that focus to give their respective character more bite. In comparison to the great "The Good, the Bad and the Ugly", these trio felt like caricatures to the original three but none of the distinction that made the classic so memorable.

Then the actions were a blurry mess. It often makes one wonder if this production team encountered difficulties filming the great dessert plain chase scene. The set up and idea was spectacular in it’s own rights but the capturing those moments were not. It’s often so shaky and the action sequences were not well defined that it became tiresome after a while. Some might argue that such shaky camera works was to capture the gist of being in the highly energized moment but in my books, the non shaky method would be much preferred, especially with the Great Plains as background.

Last but not least, the Macguffin (a plot element that, catches the viewer’s attention, motivates the characters & drives the story but the details and revelation are of little importance) felt like it had been carelessly patch together. Given that what they are chasing are actually of very little importance at the end but this film neglected to link various events to tell a tale from point A to point B straight up. Shorts links such as when the duo rescues a guy who supposedly had the map but it never shows the handling over of the map which made one wonder who actually had the map for a long period of time. It’s also never bothered to make it clear how suddenly one of the protagonist figured out the map when they were trying to figure out the map initially. Then there’s the last minute inclusion of everyone into the mix just felt rush and over the top.

But then again, there are plenty of other reviews who felt otherwise. Mostly were love letters for this film that I wished I could have seen this movie from their viewpoint. In all honesty, I desperately wanted to enjoy this film but the above three points keep derailing me from enjoying it. It had it’s comedic and stylish moments and the three stars still shine with their magnetic onscreen charisma (in their own respective ways) but it was just too choppy and bumpy ride.

Movie Rating:

(This Kimchi Spaghetti Western doesn’t taste as good as it looks)

Review by Richard Lim Jr


. The Host (2006)

. A Bittersweet Life (2005)

. Daisy (2005)


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