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
2 hrs 19 mins
Released By: Shaw & InnoForm Media
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.
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.
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.
someone once said, 'With
great expectation comes great disappointment' and that
quote was appropriately applicable to this homage.
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
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.
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.
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.
(This Kimchi Spaghetti Western doesn’t taste
as good as it looks)
Review by Richard Lim Jr